Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Defeating the dry skin of winter

Not sure about anyone else, but this week – despite a Burt’s Bees addiction – my lip got so dry it cracked. I’m about one sniffle away from a serious nose bleed and static electricity is reigning chaos in my clothing and hair.

Thanks so much, frigid outdoor air and comfortably convenient, yet drying, central heating systems. How can shins go from gloriously tan to scaly-looking in such a surprisingly short amount of time?

“The winter months are colder, drier, our skin just can’t hold on to water,” said skin health specialist Melody Robinson, a licensed esthetician at Charlotte Plastic Surgery.

“Skin can get irritated and itchy, and there are other areas besides the face (such as arms, hands and lower legs) that are more affected by drier skin.”

Robinson shared a number of pro tips and recommendations to help keep skin hydrated, if not glowing.

(Gentlemen, pay attention to this, you can benefit too.)

Robinson's No. 1 pick for combating winter withering?

"In November, as soon as I turn my heat on, I put a cool mist humidifier in  my bedroom," Robinson said. "(Turning it on overnight) helps with everything," she said, adding the humidifier will up the moisture content in the air while you sleep. Whether it's avoiding a dry throat in the morning or escaping a nosebleed, your body will thank you.

These can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make them: some double as air purifiers and require filters, others are made for kids' rooms and are shaped like cows/penguins/frogs, etc.

On the lips
Robinson swears by Aquafor Lip Repair by Eucerin. "I've been using it for 12 years. It has Vitamin E, shea butter, it keeps lips hydrated and keeps moisture in." Appropriate for all skin types, Robinson said, it can be used as needed throughout the day and doctors often recommend the balm to patients on Acutane. (An acne treatment procedure that's the queen mother of all drying processes.)

Be advised though, this product doesn’t contain sunscreen, which is still necessary no matter what the temperature, Robinson said.
Available at most national retailers. The cheapest we found it online was for $3.59 at
The holiday glow
After a long summer of religious sunscreen use and sweating, Robinson said, fall and winter are a time "when you're really trying to heal, exfoliate, regenerate and hydrate and get that glow back." 

Five steps to follow for your face: 
1) Cleanse with a gentle face wash that removes excess oil, dirt and makeup without stripping the skin, which can lead to dryness and irritation, Robinson said. Definitely look for a product without sulfates. Her recommendation is Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser, available at drugstores.

2) Gently exfoliate, with a lactic acid solution such as Theraderm Fruit Acid Exfoliant, which gently scrubs away dry outer-skin layers and stimulates new growth and collagen production, Robinson said. 

She also recommends using a Clarisonic brush, a type of cleansing unit, a few times a week, as it allows for better product and moisture absorption. 

A heads up, not all facial brushes are created equal, Robinson said, which is why Clarisonic has the corner on the market. Yes, Neutrogena and Oil of Olay, among other brands, offer much cheaper versions. 

But the drugstore brands might be too harsh with dry, sensitive skin; they don't have interchangeable heads - Clarisonic makes brush heads for delicate, sensitive, acne-prone and normal skin types, among others - and move in a way that pulls skin too much, she said. 

"Clarisonic has ultrasonic vibrations," Robinson said. "I've had mine for years, everyone needs one ... they're a really good investment to make, no one would be sorry." Clarisonic brushes retail at $100+ and are available at fine department stores, beauty specialists such as Sephora and Ulta and online.)

3) Address discoloration with alpha hydroxy creams and chemical peels or broadband light sessions. Robinson recommends SkinMedica Lytera Skin Brightening Complex.

4) Moisturize. This will vary by skin type. Oily or acne-prone skin should look for oil-free products (with sunscreen), Robinson said, where as those in their 50’s would benefit from regenerative, anti-aging products. Her pick: NIA24 Intensive Recovery Complex.

5) Prevent further damage. “Thinking you don’t need sunblock in winter is a misconception. You can get UVA rays on your way to work,” Robinson said. For those who are often outdoors or headed for the ski slopes, she recommends Revision Multi-Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 50.

Cosmo UK tweeted about their winter beauty commandments Wednesday afternoon, many of which line up with Robinson's advice.

Now to find a fix for my fly-aways...