Winter-proof your skin

When the mercury drops, it's time to ramp up your skin care efforts...

Winters present a unique challenge to the skin—it has to constantly keep up with the consequences of low humidity in the air, which dries it out. That’s why we need to keep hydrating our body—from inside and outside. Unfortunately, most people tend to overlook the internal hydration part, which is important for the skin. Even though your body doesn’t demand much water during this time, your skin does. To keep it hydrated, drink enough water. Although 8 –10 glasses of water intake is the general recommendation, drink as much as you can.

Combine this with external measures towards keeping the moisture levels of your skin high.

Winter skin care basics

Cleansing

Cleanse your skin less frequently than you normally do. Since the extreme weather disrupts the balance of the skin’s lipid barrier, intense cleansing will further worsen matters.

Use non-alcoholic, glycerin/moisturiser-based, pH-balanced soaps. Soaps that are devoid of colour or fragrance are the best as they exacerbate dryness.

For the face, use mild cleansing solutions. Aim for cleansing your face of impurities, don’t go for freshness.

Toning

Ideally, you should stop using toners till the season ends because most toners contain alcohol, which contributes to the dryness, making the skin more sensitive. If you must use a toner, opt for a non-alcoholic one.

Moisturising

Choosing the right moisturiser is key.

  • Humectants: These moisturisers absorb moisture from the environment. Examples of humectants include urea, hyaluronic acid, glycerine, and honey. They are oil-free, which makes them suitable for oily and combination skin types.
  • Emollients: These soothe and soften the skin. They are designed to increase the skin’s ability to retain moisture. Emollients create a protective layer on the skin to prevent it from dehydration. Moisturisers like petroleum jelly and shea butter fall under this type. Being oily they are best for normal to dry skin types.
  • Occlusives: These provide a protective layer on the skin’s surface to prevent the skin from losing moisture.

Use emollient-based skin care products for day and humectant-based at night. Those prone to acne should use water- or gel-based moisturisers to avoid break-outs.

Hair care

  • Use a moisturising shampoo.
  • Use a conditioner often and keep it on for at least 5 – 7 minutes.
  • Take a hair spa if you have dry hair.
  • Oil your hair before a head bath, letting the oil stay for 10 – 15 minutes.
  • Use shampoos containing ZPTO [zinc pyrithionone] or ketaconazole if you suffer from scaling or dandruff.

Lip care

  • Use lip balm with SPF frequently.
  • Prefer colourless and fragrance-less lip balm.
  • Avoid using matte lipsticks.

Winter dos

  • Apply moisturiser immediately after bath to help trap maximum moisture.
  • Use sun protection to prevent UV damage and photo ageing. You can either use two different products for sun protection and moisturising or use a moisturising lotion with sunscreen.
  • Take special care of your hands by using emollients.
  • Ensure enough intake of antioxidants and vitamins. They directly affect your skin health.
  • Use creams with petroleum jelly or urea for feet, to prevent cracks.
  • Consult a dermatologist for the right products and regime for your skin care.
  • Review your on-going skin treatment [if any] to suit the weather.

Winter don’ts

  • Avoid using harsh soaps.
  • Avoid taking long hot water baths or showers as doing so takes away the protecting lipid and fat layer, leading to dehydration.
  • Avoid using toner.
  • Don’t over-exfoliate; it takes away the barrier layer.
  • Avoid licking your lips.
  • Avoid blow hair drying your hair as it robs the hair of moisture.
  • Avoid straightening or curling your hair.
  • Avoid using foam or gel for shaving, prefer cream.
  • Avoid using after-shave lotion, use an antibiotic or antiseptic cream instead.

Don’t ignore consulting your dermatologist if you are suffering from psoriasis or eczema.

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Ashwini Padmawar is chief dermato-cosmetologist and founder of DermaCare Skin Clinic. She is also attached to a major hospital chain in Mumbai as a dermatologist and has been the panel cosmetologist for Miss Maharashtra, Miss Navi Mumbai and Mr Navi Mumbai pageants.

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