As we get older, our skin naturally loses some of its moisture, which makes cold, dry winter air especially hard for us baby boomers to handle. Dry skin is one thing, but when it starts flaking and cracking—well, it makes us want to travel to the tropics and stay there till spring. Luckily, though, with a few small tweaks to our daily routine, we can have healthy and hydrated skin throughout winter without dropping all our dough on a plane ticket. Just try these 8 simple steps—your skin will surely thank you.
1. Use thick oil-based lotions and hand balms instead of thin water-based ones. These heavier creams will keep your skin moister longer and reduce the need to reapply. Also, avoid any creams or lotions that are made with petroleum products—and this includes petroleum jelly. These products tend to dry skin out in the long run, even though they feel great when they’re first applied.
2. Use household oils for your skin, not just for cooking. When you’re whipping up a stir-fry with olive oil or coconut oil, feel free to rub a little bit extra into your hands. They’re both extremely soothing moisturizers, and all natural to boot. Don’t hesitate to buy a bottle just for the bathroom to use as a full-body moisturizer after a shower—for this, coconut oil is your best bet, as olive oil can feel greasy on the skin, and some find its scent to be off-putting.
3. Keep your hands extra-warm by investing in good gloves. Extreme cold works hand-in-hand with dry air to crack, chap, and chafe your skin. By wearing thick wool gloves with a soft, thin cotton or synthetic liner underneath (which won’t irritate skin, unlike wool), you’ll help prevent skin problems before they start.
4. Avoid harsh facial cleansers and exfoliators. Having a healthy, natural skin regimen can go a long way toward preventing winter dryness. Skip the soap and the chemical-laden night cream and instead use a skin care set like SophytoPRO’s Skin Restore System, which includes a gentle cleanser and a deep moisturizer formulated for older skin. Best of all, this set doesn’t include any toxic substances or chemicals that could irritate skin and lead to more dryness.
5. Use a humectant. The opposite of a desiccant, a humectant is a substance that keeps skin moist by drawing moisture from the air and helping the skin absorb it. For a humectant to work properly, the air must be moist, so always apply them after getting out of the shower when the bathroom is still steamy. Glycerin and aloe vera gel are natural humectants; look for them on the ingredients list of moisturizers and lotions. Honey is also a natural humectant, so if your face is feeling extra dry, try applying it as a mask after your nightly bath routine.
6. Turn down the temperature in your bath or shower. There’s nothing like a hot shower on a cold day, but try to keep yourself from turning the knob all the way to scorching. Hot water can really dry out the skin, so it’s best to keep your shower water merely warm and cut your shower time to as short as possible.
7. Use a humidifier at night. If you keep a humidifier running in your bedroom while you sleep, you’ll help alleviate the discomfort of dry skin while also resolving other winter-related health issues, like clogged sinuses.
8. Consider your workout habits. When you go to the gym, resist the temptation to jump in the pool or Jacuzzi, as chlorinated water can dry out both the skin and hair. Also, if you’re spending long hours working out or walking outdoors, make sure you’re still applying sunscreen. The sun’s rays in the winter may be weak, but they can still cause skin damage—including dryness.
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