Winter Skin Savers featuring Egyptian Magic Skin and Hair Cream
How best to weather the the cold?
written by Leslie Crawford
"A good moisturizer is like a winter coat for your skin."
. . . But as a grown-up, I've learned why commonsense kindergarten wisdom is hardly enough to protect my skin against inclement weather. For starters, cold winter air is far less humid than warm air, which means skin will be drier in the winter months. Biting winds make things worse by causing moisture to evaporate quickly from the skin.
And according to David Voron, a dermatologist in Arcadia, California, indoor conditions in the winter can be just as bad for your complexion. "Indoor heating is disastrous for the skin," says Voron. "It pulls the moisture out of the air which of course is dehydrating."
Then there's something I never had to consider as a fresh-faced tot romping through the snow: age. "The older you get, the drier your skin gets," says Voron. "Overtime, the glands in your skin get smaller and start atrophying." This undermines their ability to hydrate. The result? Yes, even drier skin.
So what to do when it's freezing outside and our skin is parched? The natural response is to soak in a long hot bath. Turns out nothing could be worse. "Heat and prolonged immersion strip the water from the skin," says Leslie Baumann, associate professor of dermatology at the University of Miami.
What, then, is the answer? Simple: Moisturize, moisturize, and then moisturize again. "Three times a day, if possible," Baumann adds. But you've got to pick a winter-worthy version.
"Gels are worthless for dry skin," says Baumann, because they don't create protective barriers that can seal in the moisture. Look instead for products containing ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol. (See "Winter Skin Savers," page 44 for specific recommendations). [NOTE: Egyptian Magic Skin Cream on page 44 featured as a winter skin saver for the body.]
And yes, when you're outside, you should still cover up. ...
Winter SURVIVAL Guide, page 46
"Slathering on moisturizing cream is the most important remedy for winter-weary skin. You should also try to:
When the heat is on, replace lost indoor moisture by putting a humidifier in house. Your plants will thank you too.
USE STEAM RATHER THAN SAUNA.
At the gym or spa, instead of the dry-and drying- sauna, opt for the steam room. Before steaming, apply a thin layer of massage oil. Your skin will come out buttery soft.
PAMPER FINGERS AND TOES.
Don't forget these extremities, which takes a particularly harsh beating in bitter climates. To bring them back to silky smoothness, soak feet and hands in warm water mixed with lemon juice and massage oil. Afterwards, rub on cocoa butter or shea butter -- both good emollients.
BATHE WITH CAUTION.
Short showers (using soap-free body washes) are better than baths. But if you can't give up the bath, says dermatologist Leslie Baumann, "put mineral, sunflower, or olive oil in it, which helps protect against moisture loss." Afterwards, pat skin gently with a towel and then apply a good moisturizing cream.
GO FOR GOOD FATS.
Foods like fish and flaxseed that are loaded with nutritious omega-3 fatty acids can revitalize skin, says Baumann. Rubbing on safflower, evening primrose, or borage oil also does wonders.
The jury is out on exfoliants - some say they are too harsh to use on already chapped skin - but if you must use one, the gentler the better.
For clothing that goes next to your skin, avoid fabrics like wool; they subject skin to friction and can dry it out.
Think hydration from the inside. Drink lots of water is one of the most important things you can do for skin, says dermatologist, in cold weather as well as hot.
Don't forget that the sun puts out damaging rays even during the winter months, so stick with your daily sun screen.