As temperatures dip and we fire up the furnace, our skin becomes an unsuspecting victim of cold weather, desperate for a drink and leaving us hungry for relief.
OhioHealth dermatologist and dermatopathologist Michael P. Conroy, MD, dispels common skincare myths and offers these tips for keeping your outermost layer healthy and happy all winter long.
1. Make moisture mandatory
“Around November 1, almost everyone comes out of the woodwork with what we call the ‘winter itch,’” says Conroy. “When moisture in the air decreases, our skin gets dry and inflamed, causing an itch and scratch cycle that lasts until about St. Patrick’s Day. Unless your skin is very oily, you’re prone to it.” Maintaining a good moisturizing habit year-round is the key to managing dryness. Conroy says you do not need special products for each season, though some people prefer a heavier cream in winter over a lotion.
2. Scratch that
“One of the biggest myths in skincare is that you need to buy expensive products to achieve good results,” says Conroy. “It is absolutely not true.” He says most of the moisturizers at your local drug store under $20 are just as effective as expensive serums, creams and lotions that can cost upwards of $150.
3. Keep it simple
Conroy says a skincare regimen using only a few products is best. It’s less time consuming, and if you have an allergic reaction to something, it’s easier to find a solution. “People assume the more product they use, the better. In actuality, after a certain threshold, less is more.”
4. Lock it in
“Another urban legend is that bathing less frequently prevents dry skin,” says Conroy. “The truth is, you should be bathing once or twice a day using a nourishing soap with added moisturizers. And don’t just hop in and out, and towel off. You only have one to two minutes after you bathe to lock in the hydration with a cream or lotion.”
5. Get groovy with UV
“Most people in Ohio only use sunscreen from April through October, but even when the sky is gray, there is still significant UV penetration from the sun,” says Conroy. “Faces are especially susceptible. You should use a moisturizer with a sun protection factor of 30 all year round. SPF 30 is light, cosmetically acceptable and spreads easily.”
He says most of the major brands don’t produce or promote acne, and those who opt to use a physical sunscreen over a chemical product typically have fewer allergic reactions.
6. Protect yourself from your nose to toes
Everyone thinks of their face when it comes to skincare, but Conroy says all skin can dry out, especially in the winter. “Any skin that is constantly exposed to the cold will be affected. Hands are a major player.”
7. Never stop!
Conroy says as we age, our skin barrier becomes much less efficient at retaining water. “People in their 60s and older have thinner skin, so skin hydration becomes paramount.” So unless you plan to escape to a warmer climate, be prepared to keep up these habits for life or brave the “winter itch!”
Itching to find a dermatologist after reading these tips? Let us help!