While you’re busy bundling yourself up in warm layers, that extra material isn’t always enough to protect delicate skin once the temperatures start to drop. Due to a lack of hydration during the winter season, dry skin can quickly become itchy skin — which, in turn, can make for irritated skin. So get ahead of the dry spell with these 10 top tips for locking in moisture and nourishing your skin all season long.
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Tip 1: Nix those hot showers
We get it. There’s nothing better on a frigid winter’s day than hopping into a steaming hot shower — but while it may feel good, the piping hot water is actually wreaking havoc on your skin. Instead opt for lukewarm showers, which won’t strip your skin of the natural oils it needs to retain moisture.
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Tip 2: Stick to simple, tried-and-true moisturizers
No need for all those fancy (not to mention pricey) products when the basics work just as well. For the effective moisture-shot your skin needs, skip the costly creams and reach for a rich, hypoallergenic cream like cult-favourite CeraVe. This best-selling cream contains three essential ceramides and hyaluronic acid and comes in a non-greasy and quickly absorbable formula.
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, Amazon, $30.
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, Amazon, $30.
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Tip 3: Choose the right cleanser
Some cleansers can be harsh on the skin, stripping natural oils and putting skin at risk of drying out. Cleansers like Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Wash are free of soaps and dyes and will gently work to cleanse and protect even the most sensitive skin. Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Wash, Amazon, $17.
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Tip 4: Stick to products containing SPF
Though you may not be seeing a lot of it, the sun’s rays are still as strong and harmful as ever during the winter months, and can still burn and damage sensitive skin. Snow is an excellent springboard for the sun, bouncing 80 per cent of rays back up toward us (and our sensitive skin). Protect your skin and get ahead of harmful rays by including the right products in your skincare and beauty routine. With SPF protection becoming more and more popular in skincare and beauty products, it’s not hard to find the right fit for your skin type and needs — just be sure to read the labels and look for an SPF protection of at least 15. We like The Ordinary’s Serum Foundation, which is super affordable, comes in 36 shades and is free of oils and alcohol while being gluten and cruelty-free. Serum Foundation, The Ordinary, $8.
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Tip 5: What you eat matters
Great skin starts from the inside out — and when it comes to preventing unnecessary moisture loss and increased sensitivity in the winter, this is especially true. Ingesting healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like flax, cold-water fish (think: tuna and salmon) as well as walnuts are a great place to start in preventing dry, itchy skin in winter.
Related: 20 food to eat to combat dry skin.
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Tip 6: Invest in a humidifier
Set up a humidifier in your bedroom. Mayo Clinic recommends it's ideal for replenishing moisture often lost in the top layer of skin throughout cold winter days. You may also want to consider lowering your thermostat — cranking the heat in the winter months will only increase dry air in the home, making it harder to maintain healthy, hydrated skin.
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Tip 7: Avoid exposing damp skin to the cold
Being on the go might mean things like rushing out the door after a workout or running errands with skin still damp from the shower, but this is a recipe for skin-disaster. According to multiple sources, the exposure to cold air will make damp skin chap more easily than dry skin.
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Tip 8: Scale back on exfoliation
Exfoliating your skin is no doubt a part of your skincare routine — and a good one – but for dry skin during the winter months, this can prove to do more damage than good. While you may think exfoliating dead, dry skin will make way for regeneration of new skin cells, you may want to consider the effects of cold winter air. Frigid temperatures and a lack of moisture in the air may affect your skin’s ability to recover from exfoliation and produce the same benefits it would during warmer months. If you can’t bear the thought of skipping this skincare step altogether (we don’t blame you!) try scaling back to once a week and seeing how your skin reacts. When it comes to exfoliation during the winter, less is more.
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Tip 9: Get a second opinion
Feel like you’ve covered all the bases but are still suffering from dry and itchy skin? The issue may go a little deeper, as skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis are more common than you might think. Book an appointment with your dermatologist to eliminate any possibly underlying factors that may be contributing to your sensitive skin and find a solution ideal for you.
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Tip 10: Forgo itchy fabrics
Know your skin. While that fluffy, chunky sweater may be gorgeous and on-trend — is it worth it if it’s going to irritate your skin? Fabrics like rough wools are popular during the winter months, but can create major discomfort and irritation for sensitive skin. Don’t risk it and always read the label when investing in your seasonal knits. Look for more cotton-based materials, which will provide warmth while still being soft and breathable on skin.
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