Aside from bone-numbingly cold temperatures and brisk winter winds, one of the most common reasons skin becomes dry, flaky and irritated in winter is because of what happens during our escape from the elements.
"We're indoors much more," says Toronto-based dermatologist Julia M. Carroll. "The heat is cranked right up, and skin quickly becomes sensitive or irritated from losing its moisture."
You can be proactive against dry air at home by investing in a good humidifier and choosing skin care products formulated to fight the effects of winter weather.
Carroll recommends Vaseline Clinical Therapy Skin Protectant Body Lotion, which moisturizes severely dry skin using a combination of humectants like glycerin (to attract moisture from both inside and outside and hold it in the upper part of the skin), emollients like mineral and soy bean oils for rehydration, and good old fashioned petrolatum to lock in moisture. "It will give you a good 24-hours of coverage," says Carroll.
Comforting and soothing as they may be during chilly nights, it's best to avoid very long or very hot baths or showers; the heat will leave skin parched and dehydrated. Pat - don't rub - yourself dry and make sure to put your moisturizer on straight away to take advantage of the extra moisture on your skin from the shower.
What else can you do to help with dry skin? Carroll says that although drinking water is good for your health, it doesn't necessarily fight dry skin. "It's a myth that drinking water will directly hydrate your skin," she says. "The best thing to do is to eat foods rich in Omega Threes which do help your body hold onto and create moisture in the skin."
Adapting your skin care regime seasonally is the best way to be prepared for the onslaught of cold wind and dry indoor heating systems. "It's so important to adapt your routine to address the different challenges of the changing seasons," says Carroll. "As soon as the seasons change and you pull that winter coat and hat out of the closet, that's the time to bring out the more advanced moisturizers."
Clarins Pure Melt Cleansing Gel is a cleanser that uses Marula plant oil to gently clean skin without drying
Lise Watier Hydra S.O.S. Anti-Dryness Body Milk absorbs quickly, leaving skin soft and nourished without feeling greasy.
Dr. Hauschka Almond St. John's Wort Body Oil sooths dry and sensitive skin using organic cold-pressed sweet almond oil and is ideal for massage.
Clinique Comfort On Call Allergy Tested Relief Cream helps super sensitive skin endure the winter season by strengthening the skin's barrier to keep irritants out.
Biotherm Aquasource Super Hydrator, Micro-Fine Texture fights dehydration under the most extreme conditions using a concentrated thermal spring water formula.