For many of us it only took a matter of a few days as we saw temperatures drop from the mid-60’s to the mid-30’s as colder, drier weather hit us fast. Chicago, Buffalo, and Philadelphia are being hit with the earliest snow falls on record (even New England played football in the snow this weekend!), and the cold, dry air is drying-out skin just as fast.
With that said, here is a short primer on why our skin gets dry when fall and winter hits. Well, for one, colder air is
less dense than warm air. Therefore, it is unable to hold as much moisture or water molecules. Cold air – as in “Canadian fronts” – often brings with it wind that “whisks” away moisture and tends to dry-out tissue – causing oils and water vapor to evaporate more quickly.
An interesting observation for those who have swimming pools or jaccuzis…as with many folks we know, we cover our pool during the winter. We keep the pump and filter going, but cover the entire pool with a floating plastic sheet. I assumed this was to keep the leaves and debris out of the pool and the cleaner. Well this is in-part true, but I was informed by our local “pool expert” that the primary reason for the covers is to lessen evaporation. He told me the cold, windy weather would cause as much, if not more, evaporation than the heat and sun during the summer.
Well, that is what happens to our skin! So, what do what should you do? Here are a couple of ideas our staff and consultants suggest:
- Keep your skin moisturized. While this may seem an obvious first note, it is difficult for most folks to do. First, you start your day with a hot shower (which depletes oils and moisture), then you go out into the cold, dry air – often windy, too. So, by the time you get to work or school, you face is tight, and the skin on your hands hurt or are noticeably dry and flaking. The best thing to do is pat dry following a shower and immediately apply a light moisturizing lotion. We recommend those that contain ingredients like aloe, lanolin and/or emu oil. Generally an emu oil lotion is not greasy, is absorbed deeply into the skin, and lasts much or most of the day.
- Stay hydrated – Again, kind of an obvious issue, but for any of you who like to snow ski know, you can easily become dehydrated without knowing it because of the cooler temperatures.
- Use vitamin supplements – There is a bit of debate as to whether most folks need a daily supplement for their ski, nails or hair. Personally I think it is a good idea – and there is no evidence that it hurts – none that I know of, anyway. I believe this especially holds true during the winter. Our diets change, level of active outdoor activities decline, and our skin and hair are constantly exposed to a barrage of UV rays and cold air. Help keep your skin elastic and healthy by boosting up on some supplements.
You know your skin best. What you do during the winter generally has an impact as you enter the spring and summer. Care should be taken now to avoid wrinkles, dry patches, skin rash, and flaking. While careful care can be given to protect your skin, a little bit of prevention can help reduce the rate at which your skin ages and helps to keep your complexion smooth and soft.