You don’t need fancy products or loads of time to do right by your skin this season. Here’s how to cultivate your best complexion.
There’s so much to welcome when fall and winter descend upon us: turkey dinners, snow, festive holiday decor, hot cocoa, caroling, and more. It’s all so cozy, so neighborly, so nostalgic. But one thing that’s hard to embrace is the havoc the drastic weather change wreaks upon our skin. Just when we thought we had recovered from summer oiliness, it’s on to dryness.
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It’s hard to feel bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when your skin is flaky and drab. So we asked three skincare experts—dermatologist Dr. Jill Waibel of Miami, physician assistant Lisa Statz of Boston, and licensed aesthetician Angela Irish of Palm Beach, Florida—for their tips on how best to naturally care for your skin as the temperature drops.
You don’t need expensive spa treatments or rarefied concoctions to make your skin glow. The answers are simple, natural, and hardly time consuming at all.
1. Exfoliate less than usual
If you think your skin looks a little less luminous this time of year, it’s not just your winter blues kicking in. Your skin may be experiencing dryness and build-up that makes your skin dull or even flaky.
“Since we are 90 percent water, in the dry weather the water evaporates into the air,” says Dr. Waibel. “Our skin will become dry and dull due to the lack of moisturization we are getting from the setting we are currently in. When skin becomes dry, it tends to build up, and [the cells] pile on top of each other causing the dry and dull appearance.”
It’s tempting to exfoliate even more when this happens, but Dr. Waibel warns this could cause even worse skin.
So if you were in the habit of exfoliating two or three times a week in the spring and summer, Dr. Waibel recommends dropping that down to once a week in the fall and winter when the weather is harsher on skin.
“If you tend to do more than once a week in the cold weather, you can over exfoliate and make yourself more susceptible for infections and complications,” says Dr. Waibel.
We suggest exfoliating with biodegradable exfoliation materials, such as rice, apricot seeds, or bamboo. (Try St. Ives apricot scrub or Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant, which is made of rice.) These are less invasive than chemical exfoliation with Retin-A or physical exfoliation with a brush. When in doubt, be as gentle with your precious skin as you can be.
2. Double your moisturizing effort
“The cooler weather means a need for increased moisturizing, hands down,” says Irish. You should be moisturizing every day, even in the summertime, but moisturizing is especially important for fall and winter because you need to replenish the moisture that you’re no longer getting from the atmosphere. In fact, Dr. Irish suggests switching up the type of moisturizer you use when the weather changes. “I highly recommend including a heavier moisturizer during this time of year, as the colder weather depletes the skin of its natural oils.” These will be creamier moisturizers that tend to take a little longer to penetrate the skin. (Check out some wonderful eco-friendly moisturizer options here.)
But if you have particularly sensitive skin and are hesitating to switch to a heavier moisturizer or an oil based moisturizer, Statz suggests using your preferred year-round moisturizer twice a day as soon as the temperatures begin to drop.
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For full body moisturizing, she swears by natural remedies like organic healing balm, olive oil, and coconut oil. Put any of these on your hands or feet before bed and then pull on a pair of cotton gloves or socks before you go to sleep. When you wake up, the skin on your hands and feet will feel renewed. “For severely cracked hands or feet, liquid band aid can be helpful,” says Statz. Don’t try those on your face, though. “Stick with gentle cleansers like Cetaphil or natural argan oils for facial skin,” Statz says.
3. Chug your water
It’s commonly known that eight glasses of water a day help you maintain a healthy body, but did you know that it’s particularly important for maintaining healthy skin? The epidermis (a fancy word for skin) is your biggest organ and what protects the rest of your body from the world’s intruders, big and small, and it is essential to keep it hydrated to function properly. Especially in the fall and winter months, when the weather and indoor heating systems can dehydrate you.
“You need to replace the moisture you are losing,” says Statz, “So first and foremost you should increase your water intake, and use humidifiers in your bedrooms where you sleep.”
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Irish warns that people become dehydrated in the winter because “we just don’t think to hydrate as much. On the contrary, we need it now more than ever.”
“Fireplaces and heating systems only add to the problem, leaving the skin parched,” she says. “So, getting in that H2O is vital.”
Plain old water is a gift from Mother Nature to your complexion. So set alarm reminders on your phone to remind you its time to get up and drink another glass of water, or keep a full water bottle on your desk every day. Trust us, smooth soft skin (for free!) is one of the best gifts you can possibly give yourself this holiday season.
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