Winter should come with another weather advisory—rough beauty conditions ahead. The main culprits are cold air, which holds less moisture than warm air, and low humidity and central heating, which make already dry hair and skin even drier. But cold weather also hits harder as you get older, when the production of skin’s natural moisturizers dips with age, says Doris Day, MD, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center.
The result: Your skin becomes rough and flaky while your hair feels dry and loses its shine. These simple cold weather beauty tricks will help your skin smooth, your hair shiny, and your makeup looking fresh well past the groundhog’s springtime start date.
1. Invest in a humidifier.
If your heating system doesn’t have a built-in humidifier, place a portable unit in your bedroom to add extra moisture into the air and prevent dry skin and eyes in the winter. Set the unit for 30 to 50% humidity during the winter months, advises the Consumer Product Safety Commission. (Humidity levels above 60% may allow moisture to build up and condense on surfaces where bacteria can settle and flourish.) Change water in your humidifier daily and clean out the unit every week to destroy bacteria that can grow in stagnant water. Breathing in dirty mist can cause respiratory problems that are especially dangerous to allergy or asthma sufferers.
They say change is constant and if you were under the impression that your beauty regimen is an exception to the rule, you’re wrong. As the temperatures drop, there are some habits that you may need to alter and others that you may normally alter when you actually shouldn’t. Here’s how to continue looking your best during the coolest months of the year.
2. Take special care in the shower.
Cold weather strips the skin of moisture and it causes people to seek increasing amounts of warmth. Instead of heating up your shower, heat up your bathroom. Hot water promotes dryness so try to keep the water temperature lukewarm to warm and avoid making a habit of long showers and baths.
Drier skin often comes with more ashiness. For many people, the instinctive response is more exfoliation and rightfully so. But, you need to concentrate on the method. People of color should avoid excessive abrasive exfoliation because the friction can cause discoloration. Though the concern is not as great for those with lighter skin, dermatologists recommend that the bulk of exfoliating be done by way of products that contain glycolic and lactic acids.
3. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
You will need to take extra measures to replenish moisture. To do so, you should switch to a heavy body moisturizer if you aren’t currently using one. You also want to make sure that it has a humectant, which is an ingredient that attracts moisture. Examples include urea, hyaluronic acid and glycerol.
Remember that moisturizers are designed to act as barriers. These products are most effective when applied while you are damp because they will trap the water against your skin, so blot and then apply.
Heating sources are another common moisture robber. To counteract the effects of dry heat, you should consider investing in a humidifier. If you can, place it in your work area, the area of your home where you spend most of your time, and by your bed when you sleep.
You may notice that your nails tend to grow better in the warmer months than in the winter. Dryness is not an issue that people readily associate with the nails but it is a problem that commonly occurs. To fight it, apply cuticle oil or hand and nail cream at least twice a day.
4. Drink more water.
When the temperatures drop, how and what people drink often changes. Water consumption tends to plummet, which is a critical mistake because hydration is connected to moisture, and moisture is essential during the colder months. People also tend to drink more hot beverages, a habit that is believed to increase dryness of the lips.
Keep drinking sufficient amounts of water and regularly apply a moisturizing product to your lips, but remember that most lipsticks are not the solution because they usually have a dehydrating effect.
5. Pay attention to what’s on your plate.
It may seem that your appearance somehow takes a dive in the winter. You may not have thought about it, but people often eat differently once the chill moves in. Salads, cooked veggies and fruits may make fewer and fewer appearances on the grocery shopping list. Be aware of this tendency and avoid it. Your diet is your primary source of nutrients, which supplies the building blocks for healthy hair, skin and nails and the tools to repair and combat damage.
6. Protect yourself from the sun.
Another habit that largely changes for the worse is the application of sunscreen. Though it may not be as bright outside, UV rays are still present and can still do the same amount of damage. This is especially true when it snows because the rays tend to reflect off the surface. To avoid cold weather sun damage, loyal to your sun protection products.