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Facing Up to Winter

Cross-Canada skin care guide


Facing Up to Winter

Putting your best face forward means creating healthy skin all year round, no matter which part of Canada, and what kind of weather, you call home.

Putting your best face forward means creating healthy skin all year round, no matter which part of Canada you call home. North, south, east, or west - find the skin care that suits you best.

High and dry

Whether you live high on one of Canada’s mountaintops or in the Far North, you know a thing or two about brisk winds and crisp, dry air. Before heading outdoors, be sure to slather on a natural occlusive moisturizer with beeswax or cocoa butter to reduce your skin’s water loss. Pull on gloves, wrap a scarf around your face, and keep the wind at your back to keep your moisture to yourself.

Skiers, hikers, and other nature lovers should also remember the sun is as potentially damaging to skin in subzero temperatures as it is in the summer. Use protection. For a soothing treat at home, add hot water to a bowl and toss in a camomile tea bag. Sit with your clean face over the bowl, and tent a towel over your head to trap moist air. Follow with an emollient moisturizer, such as sweet almond or jojoba oil.

The wet coast

While Vancouver doesn’t experience the chilling temperatures typical in much of the country, the arrival of winter should trigger some changes in your skin care routine. Although it may seem counterintuitive, Vancouver’s wet, cool winter can also lead to moisture loss from skin.

Chapped lips and hands are common, and eczema can become worse. Skin colour can also become red or uneven. Soothe skin with oat extract, vitamin E, lavender, and rose. For a comforting pick-me-up, combine half a pur? cucumber with 3 Tbsp (45 mL) plain yogourt. Apply it to your face. Rinse with cool water after 15 minutes.

Snow zones

When you’re outside shovelling, be sure to stay wrapped up to keep the cold and wind from leaving you dry and feeling sensitive. When you finally head back indoors, remember that abrupt temperature changes are stressful, and don’t rush to melt your bones in front of a roaring fire.

Skin sensitivity conditions such as eczema and rosacea can worsen in winter, so baby your skin with extracts of mallow, cucumber, or calendula. Use soap-free cleansing milks containing healing aloe vera and soothing camomile. Follow with a moisturizer containing nourishing essential fatty acids from primrose or borage oils.

A winter desert

Despite the precipitation, whether rain or snow, Canada is awfully dry in the winter. If it’s not the frigid temperatures, it’s the dehydrating indoor heat. Give your skin a fighting chance by keeping a humidifier in your bedroom. House plants also help to return moisture to the air.

Avoid any skin care products containing alcohol and boost your skin cells’ ability to stay hydrated by taking omega-3 fatty acid in the form of fish oil daily. Remember to drink plenty of water, and when it comes to water temperature, turn down the heat. Although a hot shower might feel good when you come in from the cold, the heat melts lipids that act as a protective moisture barrier for your skin.

Skin care to go

By February Canadians dream of packing their bags in search of a sunnier outlook. While it’s good for body and soul to soak up some extra rays, an abrupt change of climate wreaks havoc on your complexion.

Start saving your skin the moment you get on the plane. The air in plane cabins is extremely dry, leaving you and your skin parched before you land, and dehydrated skin is less able to protect itself from those rays you crave. Apply an occlusive moisturizer such as coconut oil to trap water in your skin while you fly.

Because of the heat and humidity, skin care products for the tropics should be lighter than the ones you left at home. Your skin will likely become oilier, as heat stimulates oil glands. Keep skin clean to avoid breakouts. Look for moisturizing products containing humectants such as hyaluronic acid to sponge moisture from the air.

Remember to stay safe in the sun. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are natural sunblocks. Eat a diet rich in protective antioxidant vitamins A, C, E, and green tea. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and stay in the shade during the hottest part of the day.

All-Canadian skin care tips

  • Resist the draw of the loofah. Cold temperatures reduce blood flow to your skin, so stimulate circulation and exfoliate by cleaning with a cotton washcloth.
  • At least 30 minutes to an hour before heading outdoors, apply moisturizer, particularly if it’s a product that contains a lot of water. Unabsorbed lotion can freeze onto your skin.
  • Keep lips hydrated. Wear a lip balm containing ingredients such as jojoba oil, vitamin E and coconut oil 24 hours a day. Over-licking lips leads to chapping.
  • Cut back on coffee, alcohol, and fizzy drinks, as they dehydrate the body. Sip a mug of hot water with lemon and cayenne pepper as a warming treat.
  • Go gentle with that good towel. Excessive rubbing can irritate dry skin. Instead, gently pat skin to absorb excess water, then moisturize when skin is still damp. Remember your feet and elbows because socks and sweaters eventually have to come off.
  • When you travel, take a small, empty pump bottle in your carry-on luggage. Once you’ve cleared security, purchase some water and pour it into the pump bottle. While on the plane give your face an occasional refreshing spritz. If you don’t have a spray bottle, you can also splash water on your face throughout the flight. Either will help to reactivate ingredients in your skin products. Repeat on the way home.
  • Keeping skin in top form in winter is important. Despite how it feels, the cold won’t last forever. Sandals and bare arms are merely a season away.


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