Canadian winters can be harsh—and we’re not just talking about the cold, wind and snow—but the dry, dull and itchy skin that can result from it. Chances are you’re guilty of committing at least a couple winter skin sins, but with a few simple swaps, some
skin care advice, and preventative measures, your skin will be radiant all winter long. We asked Dr. Kucy Pon, a Toronto-based dermatologist and Dr. Benjamin Barankin, a Toronto dermatologist and Medical Director of the Toronto Dermatology Centre (torontodermatologycentre.com) for their skin care advice on how to combat the effects of the winter elements.
Winter skin problem #1: Not moisturizing enough
Between dry furnace air and warm wool clothing, it’s not unusual for your skin to look and feel dry, flaky and even itchy, meaning your post-shower moisturize might not be enough come winter. “In the winter months you should moisturize at least once a day, but if you’re prone to dry, flaky skin, then you should moisturize 2-3 times a day,” says Dr. Pon. Look for moisturizers with occlusive ingredients like petrolatum or mineral oil that prevent evaporation and water loss from the skin.
Winter skin problem #2: Over-exfoliating
Exfoliating is a great way to help remove dead skin cells and give your skin a brighter glow, but overdoing it in the winter can do more harm than good. “Exfoliate only once or twice a week and steer clear of harsh scrubs to minimize further skin irritation,” cautions Dr. Pon. Don’t forget to moisturize post-exfoliation to hydrate and soothe the skin.
Winter skin problem #3: Using a harsh cleanser
The anti-blemish or heavy-duty cleanser you may have been using in the summer needs to be swapped for a milder option, says Dr. Barankin. “Harsh soaps tend to strip away our skin’s natural oils and lipid barrier and this can lead to dry, flaky, irritated, itchy skin,” explains Dr. Pon. Switch to a mild cleanser like Alyria Hydrating Milk Cleanser, Spectroderm or Cetaphil, suggests Dr. Barankin. Remember to wash with lukewarm, not hot water and if you’re using any anti-acne or anti-aging products, use them less often, as they have ingredients that can be harder to tolerate in the winter.
More skin care advice from the pros to nix winter skin problems on the next page …
Winter skin problem #4: Forgetting to apply sunscreen
Just because you don’t need your shades to hide the sun doesn’t mean the UV rays aren’t as intense. “There is still ultraviolet radiation in the winter, which bounces off glass, off ice and through your windshield,” explains Dr. Barankin. “Sunscreens prevent sunburns, minimize the risk of cold sores coming out, prevent wrinkling, age spots and of course, skin cancer.” Make it easy for yourself and go for a product that does double-duty. “A moisturizing cream with SPF will hydrate the skin and filter out the sun’s harmful UV rays all at the same time,” says Dr. Pon.
Winter skin problem #5: Taking long, hot showers
A long, hot shower or bath may feel like the best remedy after a hard day at work and while your muscles may thank you, your skin won’t. “Long, hot baths can worsen dry skin,” explains Dr. Pon. Instead opt for a lukewarm bath or shower that lasts no more than 10 minutes, gently blot dry your skin and moisturize right away. If you find your skin is still craving more hydration a cool air-humidifier in the bedroom can help to offset the dry indoor heat, says Dr. Barankin.
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