I always pay attention to my skin but during the winter months my skin needs special care. Not only am I concerned with sun protection and anti aging but I now have to tackle windburn, drying central air and cold temperatures, not to mention sensatization from the all-consuming cold and flu viruses that run rampant this time of year. Below I’ve included the seminal steps I take to achieve and maintain healthy skin in the winter:
I prefer a sunscreen with the active ingredient zinc oxide included in the formula. Not only does zinc oxide provide the best UV protection of all active sunscreen ingredients but it also has antimicrobial properties so soothes irritation thus making it least likely active sunscreen ingredient to cause breakouts or inflammation. Try to stick with a product that contains at least 6 to 12 percent zinc oxide to ensure adequate protection.
I am all for lip care products that contain sunscreen ingredients but when it comes to really protecting my lips from the wind I bust out the Vaseline. Regular Vaseline is great too but I have found that the Lip Therapy (those miniature Vaseline jars you find in the lip care section) formula lasts longer on the lips and contains more emollient ingredients compared to the regular stuff. I smear it on before I head outside. In the evening I apply a couple drops of vitamin E oil with the Vaseline over top to help sooth and heal.
Vitamin E Oil
I’m a big fan of oils for skin care purposes. In the winter, I especially love vitamin E oil. Vitamin E is known to heal and sooth skin making it great to treat or prevent chapped or windburned skin. I dab two or three drops on my facial skin before any other products. Because Vitamin E is an antioxidant it also has protective and anti aging properties. I also rub some into my cuticles that are extra vulnerable in the winter from weather and hand washing.
I like to use a glycolic acid treatment about once a week to clear away any flakes or dry patches on my skin. Not only does glycolic acid make skin look and feel smoother but this exfoliation allows any products applied to the skin afterwords work more efficiently. Regular use of glycolic acids is known to help with skin discoloration and promote collagen production.
An Adequate Moisturizer That Works
There are moisturizers that provide adequate moisture to the skin and there are some that just don’t deliver. Furthermore, of the moisturizers that are capable of providing enough moisture only a select few will suit your preferences and needs. As a general rule it is a good idea to look for a fragrance free formula to minimize chances of irritation. Paula Begoun of the skin care empire Paula’s Choice suggests looking for formulas that contain antioxidiants, cell-comunicating ingredients and skin-identical ingredients. Topical antioxidants to look for include but are not limited to topical preparations of vitamin C and E and green tea. Antioxidants help to prevents and heal free-radical damage of the skin. Cell-communicating ingredients such as retinoids and peptides help skin function normally on a cellular lever. Finally, skin-identical ingredients refers to “the substances between skin cells that keep skin cells connected and help maintain skin’s fundamental external structure.” (Paula Begoun 116). These ingredients include ceramides, glycerides, hyaluronic acid, glycerin and more.
A fragrance-free formula that contains a blend of these ingredients is a good place to start to achieve soothed and moisturized skin this winter. It really is about the particular ingredients in a moisturizer that will make it effective not the volume applied to the skin or the price of the product.
I love retinoids. Retinoids are part of the vitamin A family. Retinoids are one, if not the most researched ingredient for topical skin care use. They were initially prescribed to treat acne but there are substantial peer-reviewed research studies showing that they work for anti aging puposes. There are two main categories: over-the-counter and prescription. If you are new to the world of retinoids I recommend trying a moisturizer with retinol to get your skin used to the ingredient.
While prescription retinoids are stronger and so deliver quicker results they are also known for their side effects which include redness and flaking. Whether you opt OTC or prescription I recommend applying additional moisturizer on top, especially because it is winter. In addition, don’t be afraid to take it slow. Irritation and inflammation are never a good thing when it comes to skin. When it comes to retinoids less is more.
All of the products shown are things I use and advice given is from my personal experience.
Begoun, Paula. The Original Beauty Bible. 3rd Edition. Beginning Press, 2009.