Head-to-toe skin care for winter

You can beat the dry skin itch! Here's how.

So you are ready for winter. You've dug out the snow shovel and ice scraper from the basement. You've purchased a bag of salt to sprinkle on the walkway. You've reluctantly unearthed the winter coats and boots from the back of the closet. There is nothing Old Man Winter can throw your way that you haven't prepared for, or is there? Before you march bravely out your front door to face that cold wind there may be one thing you haven't taken care of - your skin.

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For some people, particularly those with skin conditions, winter can be harsh on their skin. The drier winter air may leave skin feeling dry, itchy, flaky and red. The first instinct may be to lather on the lotion, which may work for some people, but not for everyone. Fortunately, the editors of YourSkin101 have several tips for caring for your skin from head to toe during this chilly time of year and can provide you with some guidelines for which products and treatments may be right for your skin type.


Moisturizing is crucial for keeping your face looking and feeling healthy. Skin has different requirements in the summer than it does in the winter so you may have switch to new products to meet those needs. If your skin is particularly dry you should use an oil-based moisturizer because it helps prevent moisture loss. If you have problem skin or combination skin, you will likely want to use a water-based moisturizer to avoid breakouts, although you may need to reapply more often since the water will evaporate into the dry air.

UV Protection
Whatever your skin type you should look for a moisturizer than contains a minimum SPF 15 sunscreen. Sun protection may even be more important in the winter than in the summer if you are someone that spends a great deal of time outdoors. Indoor heat and cold, dry air outdoors can strip moisture from your skin, leaving it more vulnerable to sun damage.

Winter may look beautiful with all that fluffy white snow, but that snow can give off an awful glare when the sun hits it. To avoid the sudden appearance of fine lines around your eyes from months of squinting, don a pair of sunglasses. Apply a good dollop of eye cream or night cream gently to the creases around your eyes each night.

Dry air and cold viruses cause skin around the nostrils to become rough and flaky. Treating this area can be difficult, particularly for those who have oily or combination skin. The simplest solution is to wash with a gentle cleanser and then apply a small amount of oil-free moisturizer to the affected areas, avoiding the creases between the nostrils and the cheeks.

Lip care is vital during the winter. Cold temperatures and drier air can cause lips to chap and become cracked. The best defense against these conditions is to keep your lips lubricated. Products that contain salicylic acid and shea butter help to lock in moisture and protect your lips against the elements. It is also important to find a product that contains sunblock to avoid sun damage.


Winter weather conditions combined with indoor heat can leave your skin feel rough and itchy. The best way to bring back the silky, smooth texture is to slather on the body lotion. You may need to use a heavier product than you typically use throughout the rest of the year. Products designed for extra dry skin and products that contain vitamin E and shea butter are your best bet to beat itchy, orange-peel skin.

One of the worst things you can do to your skin during the winter is to use hot water in the shower. It causes your pores to open and sucks the moisture right out. To protect your skin turn the water temperature down a bit and use gentle soaps and body washes that contain extra moisturizers.

Exfoliating makes your skin look fresh and healthy any time throughout the year, but in the winter it works wonders to rejuvenate your body by polishing away dry, rough skin. Exfoliating body scrubs and polishes are incredibly effective for renewing your skin.

Did you know that your clothing choices during the winter can have a major impact on your skin? Dry skin can become easily irritated so it is best to avoid materials like wool and acrylic can cause friction. These materials also do not breathe well, so heat can become trapped between clothing and the skin causing you to sweat. It is best to stick to lighter clothing, such as Lycra and cotton, and dress in layers.



Exposure to the elements, dry air and constant hand-washing can cause your skin to crack and become raw. To keep your hands silky smooth, it is vital that you moisturize them frequently. The best way to do this is to keep a good quality hand cream in your purse or coat and apply it throughout the day, particularly after you wash your hands. Look for a product that contains vitamin E and glycerin.

Outdoor Protection
The best way to maintain soft hands in the winter is to protect them from the winter elements. That means covering them up. Find a pair of gloves that won't let the cold air in but will not make you sweat too much. Apply hand cream before putting on your gloves for double the protection.

Special Care
If you have extra dry or cracked skin applying hand cream throughout the day may not be enough. One thing you can do to revive your skin is to apply a good dose of hand cream before bed and wear socks or gloves on your hands throughout the night to lock moisture in. When you wake up in the morning, they'll be silky smooth. For a special treat, refresh your hands by applying a paraffin wax treatment.

Nails and Cuticles
Like your skin, your nails and cuticles can dry out and become brittle in the winter. A number of spas carry products that are formulated specifically for your digits but you can find nail and cuticle care products at most drugstores or specialty stores.


Although your feet are usually covered up for most of the winter, they still manage to become dry and itchy. Your best defense against cracked skin is foot lotion. Apply a heavy cream containing vitamin E and peppermint at night and wear socks to hold moisture in.

Special Care
Because feet take a little more abuse than other areas of your body they may need some extra treatment to make them baby soft. Remove dead skin by exfoliating with a pumice stone and then use a file to remove calluses and stubborn rough skin. For a special treat, book a paraffin wax treatment at your local spa to make your feet extra silky smooth.

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