We’re all pretty familiar with the ways that winter torments our skin, right? Dryness, flakiness, scaliness. Not to mention the general annoyance we feel through all of it. We also know what we need to be doing to combat those effects: avoid long, hot showers like the coronavirus, moisturize daily, run a humidifier while you sleep, and use lip balm.
And yet, for a lot of us, those measures only go so far. You might be able to smile without pain, but your lips are still chapped. You’re vigilant about taking lukewarm showers and promptly slathering on moisturizer, but your skin’s still cracking and flaking. What’s going on? It could be a few different things.
Moisturize with purpose
Let’s start with your moisturizer because it plays such a vital role during the cold-weather months. First, it’s time to swap the lightweight lotion you stocked up on during the summer for a richer cream. More specifically, look for something with skin-repairing ceramides.
If you’re already using cream at night, double your dosage and use it both in the morning and night. And to make it even more effective, keep your cream in the shower so that you can apply it directly to damp skin before you step out of the steam. Studies have shown that moisturizing immediately after bathing is significantly better than waiting and applying it later on.
While we’re scrutinizing your showering routine, use a hydrating skin cleanser instead of a true soap, which has an alkaline pH and can irritate the skin. The cleanser will be gentler on your skin barrier.
Hydrate while you sleep
Night cream is non-negotiable during the winter. If you want to take it a step further, consider an overnight mask. They create a permeable seal on the top of the skin that makes anything underneath it penetrate better. Try applying other hydrators (serums, oils) first, then adding the sleep mask. It’ll help everything absorb more effectively.
What to do in severe cases
Severely dry skin can lead to tiny cacks in the outer skin layer, which can foster a greater loss of hydration, along with redness, inflammation, and itching. At that point, a moisturizing cream is going to help only so much. To reduce the inflammation, you may also need an over-the-counter cortisone cream.
But. Avoid using cortisone creams for more than two weeks straight because they can thin the skin. If your skin’s still dry and itchy after two weeks, it’s time to see a board-certified dermatologist.