The weather is a good conversation starter because it affects everyone, especially during extreme conditions like freezing temperatures. As fall fades into winter, the new season brings significant climate changes, from chilly winds to snowfall and storms. It's fun to embrace these changes by enjoying winter traditions and partaking in outdoor activities like snowboarding, but it's also important to recognize the toll winter weather can take on your skin health.
As fall winds down, it's the perfect time to adopt solid winter skin care habits. Read on to discover the importance of winter skin care and how to winter-proof your skin.
How Winter Weather Affects Your Skin
Among the four seasons, summer and winter are characterized by the harshest weather conditions. Fall is a nice break between blazing hot and freezing cold temperatures, but don't let your guard down. The autumnal months bring their own set of skin care considerations—namely restoring sun-damaged skin and bracing for cold weather. Ideally, by the time the last leaf falls and winter is in full swing, your winter skin care routine will be a habit.
Aggravating Winter Weather Conditions
Winter weather conditions that can be harsh on skin include:
- Freezing temperatures
- Low humidity levels
- Snow, hail, and rain
- Wind chill
- Magnified ultraviolet (UV) rays
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), these harsh environmental factors can disrupt skin barrier health and cause dry, itchy skin, especially if you have preexisting skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis. If not cared for properly, dry skin can become red, flaky, and cracked. In severe cases, it may even bleed.
Tips to Transition from Fall to Winter Skin Care
With a few small tweaks to your fall skin care routine, you can embrace the importance of winter skin care and be ready for whatever winter brings your way.
1. Rethink Your Cleansing Routine
During the fall season, you might wash your face two to three times per day: in the morning, in the evening, and after a sweaty workout. If you have oily skin, you may be able to keep this up during the colder months. However, it's generally recommended to scale back to once per day as part of your evening skin care routine during the winter.
Dry skin is more likely to become an issue during the winter months, and too much cleansing—or using the wrong kind of face wash—can exacerbate dryness. Stick to gentle, fragrance-free cleansers packed with moisturizing ingredients that preserve the skin barrier, such as EltaMD Oil-In-Gel Cleanser.
2. Shower Strategically
Nothing is more comforting than a hot shower when temperatures drop. But before you turn up the heat, the AAD has a few tips about making your shower routine winter-friendly:
- Use warm water instead of hot water.
- Keep baths and showers to 10 minutes or less.
- Stick to gentle, fragrance-free personal care products to reduce irritation.
- Gently pat your skin dry after bathing (don't rub!).
3. Minimize Exposure to Dry Air
Relying on central heating and fireplaces can make dry skin worse, so pack on the layers or curl up in a blanket indoors whenever you can. The AAD also recommends using a humidifier to pump some moisture back into the air.
4. Moisturize Immediately after Showering
While your skin is still damp, slather on moisturizer from head to toe. Try a facial formula like EltaMD Barrier Renewal Complex, which supports skin barrier function with moisturizing ingredients like ceramides, lipids, and Squalane. For the body, EltaMD Skin Restore Body Cream restores dry skin with a rich, nongreasy formula.
Moisturizers and lotions are great for most people, but if you need something more heavy-duty, the AAD recommends using an ointment. For example, EltaMD Moisture Seal uses occlusives like Petrolatum to form a thick protective layer over the skin to trap moisture.
5. Protect Your Hands and Lips
Since the hands are often the first place to show dryness, the AAD recommends adding gloves and hand cream to your routine. Just like you moisturize your face after cleansing, remember to apply hand cream after washing your hands. EltaMD So Silky Hand Crème is loaded with skin-loving ceramides to soften and hydrate dry, cracked winter hands.
Similarly, thin, fragile lip skin is vulnerable to the elements and quick to dry out. To protect your lips from dry, chilly air, make a hydrating lip balm like EltaMD UV Lip Balm Broad-Spectrum SPF 36 part of your regular routine to condition lips while shielding them from the sun.
6. Wear Sunscreen during the Day
This may come as a surprise, but one of the most important ways to protect your skin from cold weather is to wear sunscreen every day. That's right—you still need sunscreen during the winter!
While the sun's UV rays may not be as strong as they are during other seasons, they can penetrate through clouds and bounce off reflective surfaces like ice and snow, magnifying their power. This means if you're enjoying snow activities in the winter, you're getting double the sun exposure. A formula like EltaMD UV Active Broad-Spectrum SPF 50+ is ideal for dry, sensitive skin and contains ingredients to soothe redness and increase hydration. It's also water-resistant, so it's perfect for winter sports.
Supporting Healthy Skin through the Seasons
It's important to update your skin care routine with the seasons, but always stay consistent with this final step. Wearing sunscreen transcends seasonal changes. The main pillars of your routine—cleansing, moisturizing, and applying sunscreen—will stay more or less consistent, but adapting your products to the changing weather will help you glow from the inside out all year.