The winter season with the cold crisp air can be beautiful and in invigorating in many ways, but I admit I much prefer warmer sunnier weather over the cold winter months and every year, when the days start to get longer and the colder weather starts to give way to balmy warmth my mood is elevated to near euphoria.
If you are like me in that regard, before you get too excited, please keep in mind that I see the worst sunburns and plenty of skin issues in the spring. We all have cabin-fever, especially now, as many of us are coming out of extended periods of lockdown, and on the first nice day we want to sprint out the door to enjoy the longer, warmer days. I encourage you to do that, as long as you take these measures into account:
- Be sun smart: This is important every day all year round, but especially in the the spring when you can't rely on the heat factor to let you know your skin is burning.
- Stay hydrated, inside and out: one of the most important jobs your skin has is to regulate water and body temperature. When you're hot, the superficial vessels in your skin dilate and the tiny muscles in your sweat glands push out water, and electrolytes with it. The idea being that there is a cooling effect from the water evaporating off your skin. If you're very fair-skinned, you may look pink and rosy to downright purple if you get hot enough, but that's your body doing it's job. Those with darker skin tones will have a natural masking of that redness but will still sweat. Drinking cool water or taking a cold shower can help, but be sure to moisturize afterwards so you maintain your skin's natural moisture balance.
- Stock up on antioxidants: you can eat your sun protection, to some extent, by eating foods high in antioxidants. Many of these come into season in the spring and summer. Foods like berries, especially blueberries and blackberries which are packed with polyphenols and fiber. They won't replace the need for sunscreen but they will help your sunscreen work better. The reason plants often have such high antioxidant levels is because they need to adapt to difficult environments of high sun and sometimes low water- like a cactus in the desert that grows in sand, extremes in temperature and searing sun. The antioxidants not only help the plants survive, they help them thrive. That is near alchemy and speaks to the magic of nature. When we eat those plants, we get the benefits of their antioxidant protection. Each color represents different antioxidants and one easy way to make sure you get enough is to eat foods that come in a variety of colors, ones found in nature that is! (Cheeto's do not qualify as food, or a food of a color found in nature!).
- Plan ahead for season change issues: Whether you're prone to allergies, eczema, psoriasis or acne, change of seasons can be a stress on the skin anc can lead to flares of all of these conditions, making you want to stay in and hide when your body wants to be out and about. One of the biggest mistakes many people make with the change of seasons is to neglect to adjust their skin care routine. Meet with your dermatologist ahead of time and put together an emergency kit for flares and include ingredients and products to help avoid or minimize these issues.
- Decreased temperatures mean a drop in humidity levels, taking moisture not only out of the air, but also pulling it out of your skin. While staples like a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water are crucial for healthy skin, making a few skincare changes and adopting a handful of new habits can help manage the discomfort of Dry Skin Season and keep your skin feeling silky smooth and soft year-round.
Here are a few hacks to help you pick the best products for your skin:
Pay extra attention to the eyes. The skin around the eyes is the thinnest of the body so this area needs extra attention. Products designed and tested for this delicate area are a good idea and should be applied using the pad of your third finger to gentle pat the product on the skin rather than rubbing. Never rub this area. I love my Peptide Eye Cream. it is made for the skin around the eyes and helps to firm, depuff and rejuvenate. If you are prone to allergies, be sure to keep an allergy calendar and start allergy treatment a week or so ahead of expected allergies so you don't get tempted to rub your eyes when allergies start to kick in.
Think about exfoliating more often. All that outdoor activity is great but may mean you need to exfoliate more often. I like physical exfoliators like scrubs because you can select the coarseness and the amount of pressure you apply, to avoid over-striping the skin. If your skin burns when you apply moisturizer after exfoliating, you've gone too far and should wait longer and use a more gentle product the next time.
Don't use harsh soap. Deodorant and antibacterial soaps are especially harsh on your skin microbiome, also compromising your skin’s natural moisture barrier. Instead, opt for mild, fragrance-free cleansers that contain moisturizers within them.
Use a lighter moisturizer. After showering, blot or pat excess water off your body, instead of roughly rubbing your skin with a towel. Next, apply a body moisturizer while your skin is still damp. Use a formula that gently sloughs off dry, dead skin cells, while also locking in moisture. For the body, look for ones with lactic acid to help gently exfoliate and also hydrate the skin. For the face, look for ones with hyaluronic acid, a serum may be all you need during the warmer more humid summer months.
Soften your soles. Your regular body lotion or cream may not be enough for your feet. Look for a thicker richer cream or ointment to penetrate rough, dry skin on feet. Buttermilk contains 3-4% lactic acid. It doesn’t smell great but you could make for a nice gentle exfoliating foot mask to soften your skin during the cold winter months.
Your sunscreen as foundation. This is important every day all year round, SPF 30 minimum. Studies show that those who wore sunscreen every day instead of only on warm sunny days had a significantly lower risk of both skin cancer and also of signs of aging in the skin such as dark spots and wrinkles. Try using a sunscreen with melanin like Facial Silk to give your skin a nice sheer glow without adding extra layers of products or foundation. Your skin will look beautiful and radiant without heavy layers of makeup. This also makes it easier to reapply over the day as you need, every two hours if you're out and about and more often if you're swimming or sweating it off.
It's always a good idea to seek out professional advice about your skin care routine and any specific issues you have. Your dermatologist can analyze your skin type and create a customized skin care routine just for you.