Hot tips for cold weather conditions
1. Sun protection. Outdoor winter weather conditions, such as wind or sun reflecting off snow and ice, can be very damaging to the skin. Wind sucks up the moisture in the air and, during a cold day, we often forget to pay attention to harsh sunlight glare. Although there's not much we can do about either, except avoid them as much as possible, we can protect ourselves. Just as we use sunscreens in the summer, we should do so in the winter, too. Before all outdoor activities, use a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15. Remember, at higher altitudes, ultraviolet light, which causes burning, is more intense, so use a product with an SPF of at least 20. Look for natural sunscreens featuring moisturizing ingredients, such as aloe vera, coconut butter, and herbal oils to further protect your skin.
2. Moisturize to the max. Because indoor and outdoor conditions are drier in winter, use moisturizers more frequently; you may also want to switch to heavier emollients and creams during this season. This doesn't necessarily mean you have to change lines or companies, since most skin-care lines have a variety of products to meet different needs. Switching between formulations, or from lighter to heavier creams, can rejuvenate your whole skin-care process. Now is a good time to try lotions that contain alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), such as glycolic or lactic acid, which are effective for reversing dry skin and invisible lines at a deeper level.
According to the president and developer of a line of skin-care products from Southern California, because your skin and hair begin to adjust to any product you use regularly, making it less effective, it's good to give your skin and hair a break by occasionally using a different product or formulation for a couple of weeks. When you return to your regular product, you may notice better results.
In addition to AHA's, many natural moisturizers feature antioxidants which further counteract the free-radical damage caused by winter sun. Common antioxidant ingredients include: alpha-lipoic acid, chamomile, green tea, grapeseed, ginkgo biloba, melatonin, and vitamins C and E. Other effective ingredients frequently found in natural moisturizers include oils derived from herbs, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. These include: coconut oil, and macadamiam nut oil. Look in your natural products store for products which are "dual purpose," that is, those which not only moisturize, but serve as a sunscreen, too.
Also, if clay-based masks are part of your beauty regimen and your skin tends to be dry, in the winter especially, be sure to choose masks featuring moisturizing and conditioning ingredients especially designed for dry skin.
Another factor particularly drying to skin and hair are artificial indoor heat sources. Furnaces tend to dry up moisture in the air, and even draw moisture from our skin. To overcome this drying effect, many professionals suggest using humidifiers to put moisture back in the air. This can be accomplished as cheaply as setting out pans or kettles of water or keeping water in sinks and tubs. A more costly, yet very effective, investment is a room humidifier. An especially good room to humidify is the bedroom, since we spend so much time there, and so that we are getting the maximum benefit while we rest.
3. Winter wear. Because of the cold weather, we usually bundle up more. As we go in and out of temperature-controlled rooms or the thermometer rises and falls during the day, we tend to be overdressed, causing moisture to be lost through perspiration. For winter wear, we often choose irritating fabrics like wool that can cause friction, more dryness, and accompanying itching and flaking. Or we may select materials (i.e., leather, nylon) that don't allow the skin to breathe; this creates dampness that can trap bacteria against the skin which, over the long run, causes irritations.
When dressing for winter, use non-irritating fabrics such as cotton, which doesn't trap moisture on the skin's surface and can be worn for warmth or coolness. Keep in mind, however, that cotton once wet, does not dry quickly. The best material for "wicking away" moisture from the skin is a synthetic material, like polyester or polypropylene. Also, it is best to dress in layers, so that you can add and remove clothing items to suit the changes in temperature.