Updated September 11, 2020
The chill in the air as cooler temperatures roll in brings the need for sweaters, coats, and a new skincare routine. The changing seasons in Colorado and elsewhere can wreak havoc on your skin and often require an updated skincare routine. A local dermatologist can provide personalized winter hair and skincare recommendations for every season. We’ve listed some general tips below, including how to make the transition to winter easier on your skin and how to maintain your hair and skin during these dry, cold months.
Transitioning Your Skincare to Winter
Your skincare routine in the winter will not be the same as it is in the summer. The winter tends to be much drier, plus the colder temperatures can affect your skin and hair in ways you may not expect. During the fall, you should begin transitioning over into your winter skincare routine. Here are a few things you should do to prepare your skin for the colder months.
Switch to a Creamy Cleanser
Colder weather tends to have less humidity, which can make skin feel dry. As the weather starts to change, dermatologists recommend switching your face wash or cleanser to a creamier version that maintains more moisture. Look for products that are gentle and contain hydrating ingredients that help lock in your skin’s natural moisture during dry weather. This also applies to body washes and hand soaps. Blander, gentler products are better in colder weather than lighter, scented products.
Use a Thicker Moisturizer
Face and body moisturizer is important during the entire year, but it becomes even more important during the colder months when your skin is stripped of much of its natural moisture. Many people used lotion-based moisturizers, but in the fall and winter, it is important to use a thicker cream-based product. Creams contain much more oil than lotions, which helps trap moisture and keeps your skin hydrated for longer. The oil acts as a physical barrier to trap moisture in the skin and keep cold, dry air out. In general, lotions come with pumps and creams come in jars and are noticeably thicker.
Don’t Skimp on Sunscreen
The weather is colder, but the sun is still strong. Lotion-based moisturizers, especially face products, often contain sunscreen, but SPF isn’t as common in a cream-based moisturizer. Be sure your moisturizer contains an SPF of at least 15 or else apply a separate daily sunscreen. Just because the weather is colder doesn’t mean the sun’s rays are any less powerful. You still need to wear a daily sunscreen throughout the entire year.
Take Shorter Showers
A hot shower or bath can feel great on a cold day, but it also strips your skin of natural oils that keep the moisture in. A hot shower can actually leave the skin feeling dryer than it was before because it creates cracks on the surface of the skin that expose the skin nerves to air and create dryness and even rashes and itchiness. As the weather gets colder, avoid taking baths and try to take shorter showers with the water at a slightly cooler temperature. After you get out of the shower, apply a thick moisturizer right away to limit lost hydration.
Exfoliate Less Often
Exfoliating is an excellent way to rid your skin of dead cells and stimulate skin regeneration. However, it also strips your skin of natural oils that keep it hydrated. In the warmer months the skin regenerates those oils faster and more easily, but exfoliating in the winter can leave the skin dry and exposed for a longer period of time because it takes away the skin’s barrier to the elements. In general, dermatologists recommend exfoliating less during the winter months to protect your skin. However, how often you should exfoliate differs for each person. People with sensitive skin might find their skin incredibly dry and exposed after exfoliating and only do it once a month, while people with oilier skin can often cut their exfoliation down to once a week without seeing negative impacts. In general, don’t exfoliate more often than once a week during cold weather.
Tips for Healthy Winter Hair
Now that you have an idea of how to transition into winter, let’s look at some tips for winter hair care. Between cold weather, dry air, and lots of hats and layers, winter can be a rough season for hair. Many people experience dry and brittle hair during the winter months, even if they have beautifully healthy hair the rest of the year. Hair health is closely related to skin health, and Fort Morgan dermatology doctors can help give customized recommendations and treatments. Just because the weather is cold doesn’t mean your hair has to suffer. Here are the six best tips for healthy hair in the winter.
Wash Your Hair Less Often
In addition to taking shorter showers, you also should wash your hair less. While it may seem like washing your hair is the best way to keep it clean and healthy, it can have a negative effect. Washing your hair daily can actually strip your hair of natural oils, which help keep hair moisturized and lessen frizz and static. The lack of natural oils is more noticeable in the winter when the air is colder and dryer. Wash your hair twice a week to avoid developing a dry or itchy scalp. If your hair looks dirty or oily in between washes, use a dry shampoo to clean it without stripping the oil.
Use Gentler Products
Many shampoos contain sulfates, which are a type of detergent. These ingredients cause shampoos to lather better, but that doesn’t mean your hair is getting cleaner. In fact, sulfates actually strip the hair’s natural oils, which can lead to dull, dry hair. Look for gentle hair products, especially shampoos and conditioners that are specifically labeled “sulfate-free.” Products that contain keratin can help restore luster and rebuild hair, especially during the cold winter months.
Don’t Skip Conditioner
Winter air is incredibly dry, which means your hair quickly loses its natural moisture. Conditioner is a vital step to keeping hair moisturized. Static and frizzy hair are signs that your hair is dehydrated, which is very common in the winter. Apply conditioner every time you wash your hair and take it one step further with leave-in conditioner or a deep conditioning hair mask. Once a week, apply a leave-in treatment that allows moisture to soak into every part of the hair. These hair masks stay on anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight and act as a serious boost of moisture for your hair.
Avoid Styling With Heat
Heated styling tools including blow dryers, curling irons, and straighteners dry out hair and can lead to split ends and breakage. They can also dry hair out even more than what naturally occurs in dry air, which leads to static and damage. For best results, allow your hair to air dry during the winter. Embrace the natural look during the winter or use heat-free styles like buns, braids, or ponytails.
Lower the Shower Temperature
A hot shower feels great during cold weather, but it can be harmful for your hair. When winter hits, lower the water temperature in your shower by at least a few degrees. The water doesn’t need to be cold, but a warm shower is much better for your skin and hair than a hot shower. After your shower, make sure your hair is completely dry before going outside. Wet hair in cold weather can lead to breakage and even cause the color to fade more quickly. This winter hair and skincare tip helps both your hair and your skin, so you’re protecting both by lowering the temperature.
Wear a Hat Outside
Wearing a hat does more than keep you warm; it can also help your hair stay healthy and protect it from the cold and wind. Whenever you’re outside, wear a loose-fitting hat that doesn’t cut off circulation to the scalp. To avoid split ends and static, wrap your hair in a silk scarf or line the hat with silk or satin.
Caring for Your Skin During Cold Weather
Next, let’s look at how to care for your skin during the winter. The cold winter air can be blamed for dry skin, but those winter months can also cause other skin problems. As dermatologists in Fort Collins, we see the effects Colorado winters can have on the skin. The combination of the cold air outside and dry heat inside will steal moisture from your skin, leaving you feeling raw, dry, and itchy at the least. Knowing how to care for your skin will help you minimize the skin problems and maintain healthier, glowing skin even in freezing temperatures.
Common Winter Skin Problems
The harsh change in temperature and weather during the winter months can cause a number of skin problems for both men and women alike. Some of the most common winter skin problems are the following:
- Flaky skin
- Flare-ups of conditions such as acne or psoriasis
- UV damage
- Chapped lips
Winter skin problems can be caused by more than just the exposure to the cold air outdoors and the moisture-deprived heat indoors. Skin problems can also come from not taking care of your skin properly. During the winter months, you may need to change up your skin care routine in order to keep your skin soft and radiant.
Some of the best things you can do for healthy winter skin include:
Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
We’ve already mentioned moisturizing once, but it bears repeating. One of the most common, big mistakes people make with their skin care during the winter months is not moisturizing enough. You will likely need a stronger moisturizer during colder temperatures than during warmer months. You can also benefit from applying moisturizer more frequently and at certain key times.
Directly after your shower or bath is one of the best times to apply a hydrating moisturizer on your face and body. Leaving your skin slightly damp and then applying a quality lotion will also help to trap moisture into the skin.
Apply moisturizer on your hands just as often as you wash them in order to help keep your hands from over-drying.
Use a Humidifier to Help Add Moisture to Your Home
The continual cycle of dry heat pumping through your house from the furnace is one of the primary culprits for dry, itchy skin over the winter. You can combat this by either investing in a humidifier for your HVAC system or simply using a humidifier in the rooms you spend the most time in. A humidifier will increase the moisture in the space, keeping your skin hydrated and supple.
Turn Down Your Thermostat
Although low temperatures outside may tempt you to turn up the heat inside, think about putting on a warm sweatshirt or wrapping yourself in cozy blanket instead. Turning the thermostat up means more heat blasting through your vents and even drier air. Setting your thermostat between 68 and 72 degrees can make more of a difference than you think in keeping your skin from becoming too dry.
Don’t Forget ChapStick
Your lips are not exempt from the harsh effects of winter, so make sure to apply a moisturizing ChapStick or lip balm frequently throughout the day. This will keep your lips from becoming chapped, dry, or cracked.
Drink Lots of Water
One of the most overlooked, simple winter skincare tips is remembering to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water will add moisture to your skin from the inside out and help give you that healthy glowing skin you’re hoping to keep this winter. Drinking at least 8 glasses each day can make more of a difference than you think.
Tips for Healthy Winter Hands
The skin on your hands can be particularly vulnerable to damage during the winter. The dry winter weather can lead to flaky skin and cracked hands and make for an uncomfortable season. Dermatologists in Greeley often see patients who experience hand skincare issues in the winter, especially in the harsh, dry Colorado climate. But just because the weather is dry doesn’t mean your hands need to be. To keep your hands healthy and comfortable this season, check out these five tips for winter hand care.
Use a Strong Hand Cream Frequently
The most common reason for red, cracked hands in the winter is a lack of moisture. The air and weather are naturally dryer, which sucks the moisture out of the skin. Staying hydrated by drinking water can help, but the most important thing to do is use a strong hand cream and moisturizer. The cream adds moisture straight to the skin and creates a strong barrier against the elements to keep the moisture in. However, the moisturizing barrier doesn’t last forever. To keep your hands moisturized and protected throughout the day, apply hand cream every few hours.
For best results, start using a hand moisturizer before you start to notice dryness or redness. Look for a thicker moisturizer and cream, instead of a water-based lotion. Thicker products tend to go deeper into the skin and last longer, especially for damaged and dry skin.
Leaving your hands exposed to the elements can make them even more dry and damaged. If you’re going to be outside for more than a few minutes, put on a pair of gloves or mittens to keep your hands warm and protected. Rubber gloves can also help if you’re going to have your hands in water for a long time, which can dry them out. Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands when washing dishes or doing other chores.
Limit Hand Washing
Washing your hands is a great way to stop germs, but it can also dry your skin out even more. If possible, try to limit how many times you wash your hands throughout the day. When you do wash your hands, use mild hand soap and warm water instead of hot. Hot water strips the skin of natural oils and can make it even more dehydrated. Pat your hands dry with a towel and apply lotion right away. If you wash your hands more than 10 times a day or start to notice your skin getting worse after washing your hands, try using hand sanitizer to get your hands clean without drying them out as much as soap and water.
Protect Your Hands While You Sleep
Your hands work hard and are exposed to many things all day, so give them a time to refresh and rest while you sleep. Apply a thick hand cream, serum, or even olive oil and cover your hands with gloves right before bed. The extra layer will help the product seep into your skin while you sleep, allowing you to wake up to moisturized skin ready for a new day.
Need Custom Recommendations?
Just because the weather is chilly doesn’t mean your skin can’t look great. Cold weather, particularly dry Colorado winters, can be harsh on skin and hair. But updating your skincare routine can keep your skin looking and feeling fresh and healthy all year long. At Front Range Dermatology Associates, we offer the best skin care services in Northern Colorado, and we can help you create a custom winter skin and haircare routine. Make sure you are properly caring for your skin by calling us today at 970-673-1155 to schedule an appointment at either our Fort Collins, Greeley, Loveland, or Fort Morgan offices.