10 tips to soothe and soften
Winter's frigid temperatures and harsh winds can play havoc on our skin. Our tips will keep you glowing all season long.
The winter months are ideal for skiing, snowshoeing, and skating—but cool air and whipping winds can also dry out our bodies from head to toe. Here are some tips to help you sport soft, glowing skin while enjoying your favourite cold weather activities.
Sunscreen isn’t just for balmy beach days. “People often aren’t aware that, ideally, you’d be wearing a sunscreen during winter days when it’s a little bit bright outside,” says Frances Jang, MD, the founder of Skinworks dermatology clinic. Thanks to factors such as sweating and UV-reflecting snow, alpine athletes need to be especially sun smart. In fact, our skin may be more susceptible to sunburns on the mountain than on the beach. If a slope is 10,000 feet (3,048 m) above sea level, for example, skin-damaging UV radiation can be up to 45 percent stronger. Before heading outdoors, slather on a broad-spectrum, mineral-based sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. If possible, use a winter-specific sunscreen with moisturizing ingredients such as lanolin or glycerin.
Cracked lips, scaly skin, itchy scalps—ah, the joys of winter skin! To make matters worse, these conditions are often aggravated by the drying effects of central heating. Hooking up your humidifier is a simple solution that can add much-needed moisture to the air in your home or office.
Whether we’re hitting the slopes or shovelling snow, soggy socks and mitts are a no-no. Cold, wet clothes can irritate sensitive skin and may lead to eczema flare-ups. Keep spare mitts on hand in case the ones you’re wearing get wet. Alternatively, wear a pair of breathable cotton gloves beneath a pair of waterproof gloves for added warmth and protection.
Nothing beats a long, steamy bath on a chilly day—right? Unfortunately, hot water can further dry out our skin by sapping its natural oils. For a healthy, hydrated glow, shower or bathe once per day for no more than 10 minutes, and use lukewarm water. If skin is itchy or irritated, consider adding finely ground oats—a natural cleanser, moisturizer, and buffer—to your bathwater.
“Sensitive or dry skin conditions tend to be exaggerated in the colder months,” says Jang. “So people have to be a little more cautious about the products they’re using.” To avoid aggravating winter woes, kick harsh soaps, toners, and exfoliators to the curb. Simplify your skin care routine and opt for a mild, fragrance-free cleanser or soap such as castile. Some soothing ingredients to look for in a natural cleanser include
A winter breeze may feel wonderful when we’re flying down a slope … but no one wants peeling, wind-roughened skin. Outdoor sports enthusiasts need to bundle up with protective clothing such as hats, scarves, and gloves. “When we’re outdoors, we have to be careful about the dangers of frostbite and windburn,” says Jang. “If you’re skiing, for example, you need to protect your nose and cheeks.” When windburn does occur, peeling is an unpleasant but natural part of the healing process; however, you can ease irritation by applying cooling aloe vera liberally and frequently.
Healthy hydration is a no-brainer when we’re exercising in summer, but ice-cold water may be less appealing at this time of year. Nevertheless, it’s important to drink plenty of water year-round to nourish our skin—especially when exercising. Any activity that causes sweating, such as skiing or snowboarding, will require us to rehydrate often. Skip the post-ski beer, though, as drinking alcohol can lead to dehydration.
Perhaps no body part shows the wear and tear of winter activities more than our hands. In an attempt to steer clear of colds and flu, we may also wash our hands frequently with harsh soaps and hot water. Be gentle on dry, hurting hands, and wash with warm—not scalding—water. Consider scrubbing only the palms and between the fingers if your knuckles appear red and chapped. For extra softening, apply an oil-based moisturizer throughout the day.
Our hands aren’t the only area that can benefit from some cold-weather TLC. A nourishing lip balm is essential to ward off windburn and sun damage, which can also trigger cold sores in outdoor athletes. Look for natural, sun-protective products to pamper your pucker. Softening ingredients that can help to banish chapped lips include
It can’t be repeated enough—moisturizer is a must during winter. “The most effective time to moisturize is after you take a shower or bath,” says Jang. “Apply a layer of moisturizer over towel-dried skin that’s still a bit damp to really seal in moisture.” For soft skin on and off the slopes, moisturize dry areas such as the face and hands two to three times a day. Choose an oil-based ointment without alcohol, fragrances, dyes, or other chemicals for the safest, gentlest care.