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Fight the Itch: Tips for Healthy Winter Skin

Posted Feb 25 2009 12:00am


By Megan Hess, feature blogger

skin-care8711

 The weather outside may be frightful, but your skin doesn’t have to be! Protecting your skin from harsh outdoor conditions is crucial – and easier than you might think.

Follow these steps to help your skin stay moist and healthy throughout the rest of the grueling winter months:

 1)    Use a heavier cream instead of a light moisturizer.

Constantly switching between warm indoor air and harsh outside winds removes moisture from your skin. Look for moisturizers that are oil-based rather than water-based; the oil will create a protective layer on the skin that retains more moisture than a regular cream or lotion. For best results, moisturize at night before going to bed. Some lip balms and lipsticks, like Moisture Extreme Lipcolor by Maybelline, have moisturizers built in.

2)    Up your H20 intake.

Water not only flushes out toxins, but also helps prevent skin dehydration. Dry, cracked skin is susceptible to infections, and water helps boost your body’s natural defenses. The “8 by 8” rule says to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.

3)    Turn down the hot water.

A long, hot shower may sound ideal after kicking off your snowy Uggs, but hot water can wreak havoc on your skin. Instead, try taking lukewarm showers. After drying off, immediately apply moisturizer to lock in moisture. Lukewarm baths with oatmeal or baking soda also help relieve dry, itchy skin.

4)    Slather on the sunscreen.

SPF isn’t just for spring break in Cancun and summers at the shore. Winter sun and snow glare can also damage your skin, and UV rays still penetrate on cloudy days. Apply some sunscreen to your face and hands about half an hour before going outside. When skiing, UV exposure is even greater, so use a sunscreen that blocks UVA and UVB radiation.

5)    Grease up your hands and feet.

Vaseline – or other lotions that contain petroleum jelly or glycerin – helps moisturize brittle nails and dry feet. Exfoliants, which remove dead skin, will help moisturizers sink in faster and deeper. Also try using antibacterial ointments, such as Neosporin, for cracked hands and feet.

6)    Harsh peels are a no-no.

Lots of peels, clay-based masks, and alcohol-based toners strip vital oils from your skin. Instead, opt for mild foaming cleansers, alcohol-free toners, and “deeply-hydrating” masks. Some skin conditions like eczema tend to flare up during the winter months, so make sure to see a dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment.

 Megan Hess is a sophomore majoring in magazine journalism and international relations. She is the managing editor of Jerk Magazine and also writes for The Daily Orange and 360 Magazine. She was an editorial intern at Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine, where she had several articles published, and a media relations intern at the Office of the Mayor in Syracuse, NY. As a features blogger, she will cover issues ranging from food phenomena to electric cars to Obama’s carbon footprints.

Her e-mail is mehess@syr.edu.

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