Words by Janell M. Hickman
Come January 1st, many of us are operating under the mantra, “new year, new you” setting new goals, making changes, and embarking on the never-ending quest for self-improvement. Larger scale intentions like traveling more, saving money, or losing weight can seem daunting at first, but committing to small, simple upgrades are 100% in reach.
Since it’s all about grooming here at Bevel Code, obviously skincare is the first stop on the train—and Old Man Winter is by no means gentle. “During winter the air is colder, drier, and therefore you have increased transepidermal water loss, which leads to your skin getting drier,” explains Seemal R. Desai MD, FAAD. “This can in turn cause a change in the balance of the skin leading to itching, flaking, discomfort, and even inflammation.”
We’ll have to politely say “nah” to all of the above. To help, we spoke to a handful of skincare experts to help you conquer winter like a boss.
Get to Know Your Skin Type
It’s definitely common for your skin type to change with the season—or even to have oily or dry patches on different parts of your face. Don’t know where to start? Get a sense of your skin type by washing your face with a gentle soap or cleanser—without applying additional product or moisturizer. After an hour or so, does your skin feel tight? If so, it’s likely dry. If you see oil on your t-zone (forehead, nose, chin) you likely have combination skin. If there is a visible shine across your entire face, you likely have oily skin.
“Often, sensitive or acne prone skin is misdiagnosed as oily skin, and many of the acne care skin products on the market dry out the skin and make blemishes worse,” explains Emily Cunningham of True Moringa. Instead of harsh cleansers or astringents, she suggests trying non-comedogenic oil on acne-prone skin to stabilize oil production and soothe damaged skin.
“When winter weather makes my skin dry, I switch from soap to oils when washing my face,” Cunningham adds. “Oil is just as effective at removing impurities and leaves skin healthy and hydrated. Choose a non-comedogenic oil (argan, jojoba, moringa) that won’t clog pores or leave a greasy after feel like our Moringa Simplicity Facial and Body Oil. For dry elbows and chapped lips and hands, I use cocoa butter mixed with our moringa-based Universal Cure Balm.”
SPF is a Year Round Commitment
Repeat after us, sunscreen is not just for Summer. Even on cold, gray, winter days UV rays are still lurking behind the clouds. Protect yourself all 365 days of the year from both UVB or UVA rays to avoid sunburn or even worse, skin cancer. Hands down, this is the one tip that all of our skincare experts wholeheartedly agree on.
“I don’t leave home without having applied moisturizer as well as sunscreen to my face—and those two products in my opinion should always be separate,” explains Dr. Rita Linkner. “Whether it’s sunny or cloudy in December in New York City, your skin needs sunscreen. Don’t use that excuse that you are never outdoors—we all walk to the subway or the bus or to catch that Uber. In a lifetime, minutes add up to hours and to days. It’s just not worth the wrinkles!”
It’s very important to stay hydrated despite dusting of snow on the ground. People tend to drink less water in winter but it’s just as important (if not more) as other times of the year. “The dryness in the winter air dehydrates our body and skin more so than other months of higher humidity,” shares Jana Blankenship of Captain Blankenship. “People usually recommend drinking 8 glasses which is a half gallon, but I think that is the bare minimum to keep you hydrated. If you’re thirsty, drink more!”
Can’t down enough water? Try a personal humidifier instead at home—or even at work. “We all know that feeling of waking up parched in the middle of the night, which is especially prevalent in winter due to the dryness,” explains Blankenship. “A humidifier is very important to keep the moisture balanced in your home and help our skin and bodies truly be healthier. Humidifiers help dry skin and they give moisture to our nasal, throat, and lung passages to help ease symptoms of a cold or respiratory illness.”
Shower Smarter or Cut Down on Showers
Your skin is at its most vulnerable when you get out of the shower. The act of showering really strips away that basic skin barrier that we all inherently have.“What I find patients often doing, especially in the cold winter months, is wanting to take long hot showers, and baths, and those dreaded hot tubs and jacuzzis,” shares Dr. Desai. “Yes, it feels great to stay warm and relaxed, but the hotter water you bathe in, the worse and more dehydrating on your skin!”
Dr. Linker agrees, “I tell patients that showers should be all business, no pleasure—less that 5 minutes is really all that’s needed.” She suggests to soap only those “dirty” areas i.e. face, underarms, and genitals sans loofahs—it can be too harsh. “When you towel off leave some drops of water behind. Then, use a moisturizing cream like Cetaphil just after showering to lock those drops of water back into the skin.”
Look at Your Labels
The drugstore aisles are lined with a plethora of options. But one tip holds true: select body or face creams over lotions when the temperature dips. “Lotions are made more liquid like because they are thinned with alcohol which dehydrates,” explains Dr. Desai. “Make sure you massage the cream in totally until fully absorbed,” shares Dr. Desai.
According to Dr. Linkner, ceramides are probably the moisturizer important ingredient to seek out. “These proteins help the skin cells glue together,” she explains. “It’s this simple infrastructure that’s lacking in those with eczema. I like to opt for creams this time of year as they have the most hydrating power.” She’s a fan of SkinMedica’s TNS Ceramide Treatment Cream, “which has fibroblast proteins that help to rebuild the infrastructure of the skin along with ceramides, the mortar that holds the skin cells together.”