You can feel it coming on: cracking, flaking, blotchiness. Yes, it’s winter, and with all the fun festivities that come with it, ‘tis the season that can wreak the most havoc on your largest organ.
“The weather is generally cold and dry in the winter and the skin loses moisture,” says Susan Ciminelli, founder of Susan Ciminelli Day Spa in New York City and author of The Ciminelli Solution. “This causes the skin to feel dry, brittle, and itchy.” Luckily, it’s simple to combat this problem. Incorporating more oil-rich ingredients, both internally and externally, and making a few dietary changes will fill the void often caused by nature.
Like a sponge in the desert, the drier air wicks away moisture from the skin, leaving it susceptible to chafing, cracking, and an overall lackluster appearance. Since it is in a vulnerable state and needs more hydration, adapting your cleansing and moisturizing choices is key. “Avoid using soap on the skin,” say Ciminelli. “Use milk cleansers for the face [and] remove with a warm damp washcloth.” Using a gentle “cream-based” cleanser keeps the skin’s natural protective barrier intact, according to Veronica Gatt, a licensed medial oncology aesthetician at Skin by Lovely in Santa Monica. Weekly exfoliation is also recommended, from the toes on up. According to Ciminelli, this will rid the body of dead skin cells, thus revealing a smoother, silkier layer that is more able to absorb a cream or serum.
One of the most common mistakes regarding winter skin care is a lack of change when it comes to moisturizers. “People stick to the same old routine, which just is not enough,” says Ciminelli. “Your winter skin care should be more luxurious and luscious.” While lighter fluid lotions or serums are beneficial during the spring or summer, a more substantial solution is ideal during the colder months. “You need a thick moisturizer to hold the hydration in your skin,” says Gatt, who recommends using facial creams, which contain high levels of emollient ingredients. Oil serums are beneficial, particularly those rich in omega-3s, as they nourish the protective outer later. Also, hyaluronic acid keeps the skin in good condition, says Gatt, as it is a natural lubricant and aids in holding the hydration on a deeper and longer level.
And while you’re busy keeping face, don’t neglect everything south. Natural body butters and oils will keep cracked and itchy skin at bay. If you’re looking to warm up, Ciminelli recommends a soothing milk and honey bath. “Put a quart of whole milk into the tub with a cup of honey. Make sure you are clean before you even get into the tub. Luxuriate for at least 45 minutes and then rinse thoroughly.” The natural lactic acid in the milk will gently exfoliate the skin, while the honey will sooth and hydrate. “Your skin will feel divine.”
It’s an age-old saying: It’s what’s on the inside that counts. While this is certainly true with regard to all the organs, with skin it tends to show. “What we see on our skin is what is going on inside the body,” says Shelley Brooks, a certified holistic aesthecian in Alameda, California, and owner of Conscious Skincare. “If our skin is dehydrated, then the inside of our bodies are. And the organs are definitely dehydrated.” Staying well lubricated all year round is critical, but many times people tend to lessen their daily intake when the air turns chilly. Make a point to drink clean water throughout the day to keep skin clear and refreshed and rid the body of toxins. “Even when there’s a chill in the air and you don’t feel particularly thirsty, water consumption needs to be high to combat the dry air,” says Brooks.
You Are What You…
As with any time of the year, eating a diet rich with in-season produce will not only make you feel better, it will also make you look vibrant. Root vegetables that are at peak during the winter will deliver vitamins A and C, both powerhouse vitamins for the skin. It is also beneficial to up your intake of essential fatty acids, which provide anti-inflammatory benefits. “In the winter, eat more avocado, walnuts, olives, flax, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel,” says Ciminelli.
Tweaking a few of your habits as the seasons change can make a big impact on how your skin looks and feels. For one, start with your morning routine. “If we’re really dry, we don’t need to cleanse in the a.m.,” says Brooks. Skip the wash and lightly dab your face with water to refresh. Follow with your rich moisturizer. Another way to up your natural hydration is to replenish it in the air. Invest in a small humidifier for the rooms you spend a great deal of time in, such as your bedroom or office. This will emit water into your immediate environment, thus increasing moisture levels in the air.
These picks will help you get glowing, no matter how low the temperatures drop.
Bi Mat Cay Lip Balm will repair cracked and chaffed lips with beeswax and cocoa butter. // $12, 1.6 oz.
The Body Deli Rose Geranium Cleanser combines Arnica montana, rose geranium, and rice bran to soothe red and inflamed skin while lifting impurities. // $28, 4 oz.
Cold Spring Apothecary Rosewood & Patchouli Clarifying Facial Exfoliate is a gentle wash made of gentle jojoba beads that will remove dead layers. // $35, 4 oz.
RMS Beauty’s Beauty Oil contains nourishing buriti, jojoba, rose hip, and tamanu oils. // $74, 1 oz.
Kimi Organic Face Cream features vitamins A, B1, B2, D, and E. // $23, 3.3 oz.
Dr. Alkatis Organic Night Cream is chock full of virgin cold-pressed organic shea butter and aloe vera gel. // $65, 1 oz.
Badger Balm Damascus Rose Beauty Balm is a small pot with big benefits. This essential oil-rich solution works to rescue dry skin anywhere, including elbows, cuticles, and under-eye skin. // $14, 1 oz.
Wild Rose Pure Emu Oil is soothing and anti-inflammatory due to its natural abundance of omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids. // $13, 1 oz.
Ilike Soothing Herbs Body Oil offers a soothing drink for the skin with yarrow, calendula, and evening primrose oils. // $88, 4.2 oz.
Raw Essentials Skin Moisturizing Body Oil is made under low heat, ensuring that the essential nutrients in the avocado, primrose, and olive oils remain intact. // $20, 4.2 oz.
Alicia Silverstone for Juice Beauty Purely Kissable Lip Color is a rich blend of goji berries and açai that delivers moisture and a hint of flattering pink color. // $16, 0.12 oz.