By: Frances Sales
The cool weather is finally upon us, and while we’re happily relieved we’re not sweating from every pore, the cold and dry air is not good for our skin. Cool conditions sap moisture away from skin leading to flaking, cracking, and—if you’re not careful—even bleeding. To reduce the incidence of chapped and cracked lips, irritated and itchy skin, and dry and lifeless hair and nails, try these tips:
Tip #1: Hydrate from the inside out.
First things first, drink more water. No amount of lotion will cure dry skin if you’re dehydrated. The human body is made mostly of water and when it doesn’t have enough H2O, the body withdraws moisture from skin and focuses on hydrating its vital organs.
When the body is fully hydrated, skin is plumped up and elastic and better able to protect itself against the elements. In cold weather, however, we tend to drink less water because we prefer hot drinks like coffee and party drinks like alcohol—which actually dehydrate the body. Yet still, do not forget to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. You can get the rest of your moisture from your food, like soups, fruits, and vegetables.
Don’t forget to eat healthy, too. A diet rich in Vitamin C and zinc will boost collagen production. Omega-3 from fatty fish keeps skin supple. If you can’t eat healthy every meal, pop a daily supplement.
Tip #2: Moisturize every inch of skin.
As the weather changes, so should your skincare regimen. The light lotions that cooled sun-kissed skin are now not enough for the cold weather. Choose lotions and moisturizers that are oil-based. However, check the ingredients. Shea butter is thick and will form a protective layer on your arms and legs, but it will clog the pores on your face, so pick facial moisturizers made of lavender, jojoba, avocado, almond, and primrose oils.
For extremely dry skin found on hands, elbows, knees and feet, you can try good old petroleum jelly. Feet and hands get especially dry so slather on the thick lotion, and put on gloves and socks to really seal in the moisture.
Also, remember to apply lotion after bathing, washing the dishes, and washing your hands. Keep a bottle of lotion beside the shower or the sink so that you don’t forget.
Tip #3: Exfoliate gently.
Dead skin cells build up and prevent the precious moisture from the oils and lotions to penetrate the skin. So gently use an exfoliating body wash in the shower to slough off dead skin cells. A facial scrub used once a week will also reveal glowing skin. However, please don’t use scrubs with microbeads because those are harmful to the environment. A face towel can do the job, just rub gently all over the face and lips.
Don’t overdo your scrubbing, however tempted you may be to scrub off every day. When skin is dry, harsh peels, energetic scrubbing, and alcohol-based toners strip away vital oil from skin. If skin is already irritated, vigorous exfoliation will only worsen your condition. So “gentle” is the way to go!
Tip #4: Don’t use hot water.
A nice hot bath is always amazing when your body is shivering, but the hot water also does one other thing as it warms you up—it breaks down your skin’s lipid barrier. This barrier is what keeps moisture locked in the skin so you don’t want to mess with that. Baths also strip away the skin’s oils. So, keep your bath water lukewarm. If you do want to soak in the tub, put oatmeal or baking soda in the water. These ingredients soothe dry, itchy skin. Don’t soak too long and seal in moisture with lotions and moisturizers immediately after toweling off.
Tip #5: Turn on the humidifier.
Humidifiers are not a staple in Filipino homes because we have humid weather. But with the advent of air-conditioned homes and offices, these appliances help put moisture in the air. This helps skin and hair from drying out. Humidifiers also relieve colds and irritated airways. If you’re always in a freezing environment at work or your A/C is always on at home, consider installing a humidifier.