Keep It Glowing All Winter Long
After discussing the best ways to keep facial skin healthy and glowing during the winter months with several local experts, many themes arose: exfoliation, moisturizing, hydration, and sunscreen. These steps are all important because the winter weather tends to be drier, which has an impact on the skin. Somewhat surprisingly, the topic of sunscreen came up because, quite simply, the sun still shines in the winter and can still do damage to the skin.
“In winter, the most important thing to do for the skin is to exfoliate,” emphasizes Linda Sickles, senior esthetician at The Spa at Cornerstone Fitness & Spa in Warrington. “If the skin is exfoliated [all other cosmetic products], work better.” Achieved through either chemical or mechanical means, exfoliation is the removal of dead skin cells from the skin’s outermost layer, the epidermis.
Chemical exfoliants include peels or other active agents that remove skin cells by way of a chemical reaction. “I prefer a natural enzyme exfoliant to a surface scrub, which can sometimes scratch your skin and cause shine,” says Kristyn Rudnet, owner of the Shimmer and Spice boutique in Philadelphia. “I recommend Naturopathica’s Pumpkin Purifying Enzyme Peel, because pumpkin is a powerful antioxidant due to its high beta carotene content.”
Mechanical exfoliants, commonly referred to as scrubs, have a course ingredient that acts to physically remove dead skin cells. When used properly—with a light touch instead of a hard rubbing action—scrubs do not damage the skin. One option is Kiehl’s Milk, Honey and Almond Scrub.
Once the skin is clean and exfoliated, the next vital step is to moisturize. This step is necessary because there are external as well as internal causes of skin dryness in the winter. External causes include heaters, which dry out the air, and wind.
Internal factors include the skin’s ability to rejuvenate in the colder months. As esthetician Dianna D’Andrea at Stars Di Prinzi Salon in Warrington explains, “Your skin’s natural oils don’t replenish themselves as much in the winter as they do in the summer, which causes the skin to be drier.” Her advice: “Use products with glycolic acid, because it penetrates the skin deeper and actually gets down into the dermis,” which is the layer underneath the epidermis.
In general, switching to a creamier moisturizer in the winter is one way to beat dryness. But, as Linda explains, “Creamier is not necessarily better because everyone’s skin type is different.” She suggests an appointment with an esthetician to create a personalized skin care regimen. “Skin care products are so advanced now that most do not have a heavy [or creamy] feel.” One example is Dermalogica’s Active Moisturizer.
But applying moisturizer to the skin’s surface is only half of the hydration process. We should also hydrate our bodies to allow for that healthy glow. And, during the holiday season, we can easily get dehydrated—blame it on the eggnog, mulled wine, and candy cane martinis.
“Water, water, water,” says Dianna, “drink more water in the winter.” One way to accomplish this is to have one glass of water in between every cocktail because alcohol is a diuretic that causes the body to excrete more water. “If people enjoy a cocktail—and who doesn’t?—they should try to drink more water during the holiday season,” adds Linda.
Another trick is to use a humidifier to put more moisture in the air, especially while you sleep. And, take cooler showers because hot water dries out the skin more than cooler water. Furthermore, Linda simply tells people to “lower the temperature on the thermostat.”
“Sunscreen—all estheticians will agree on that one,” affirms Dianna.
“Sunscreen should be used every day, even in winter,” Linda explains.
Sunscreen may be the most neglected of the cold weather skin care elements because we often perceive the colder weather to mean that the sun is not as potent. However, the sun is actually closer to the earth in the Northern Hemisphere in winter, and it produces harmful rays in the winter just as it does in the summer. Additionally, snow reflects approximately 80 percent of the ultraviolent light, which increases exposure.
Linda suggests applying sunscreen last in the morning skin care regimen, just after moisturizing, or mixing sunscreen into the moisturizer. Many moisturizers have sunscreen built in—at the very least, chose one of these moisturizers in the winter months.
Skin is the largest organ in the body, and the areas where the skin is most susceptible to damage are the hands and the face. In winter, the skin can get dried out by things like indoor heating, wind, and holiday cocktail consumption. But a few simple tips—exfoliate, moisturize, hydrate, and embrace sunscreen—can protect the skin and keep your face glowing all season long.
Story by April Reynolds