“My skin was looking pretty good this fall, and then winter came and now it’s a train wreck…dry, rough, stinging, red, flaky…what’s going on?”

To answer our questions, we talked to April Kauffman, an aesthetician at the Center for Cosmetic Dermatology in York, PA. She has been practicing aesthetics for 22 years and has helped many patients get through our miserable winters. She gave us plenty of info on how the change of season affects the skin and what to do about it.

“The winter can be horrendous to the skin. Humidity really is our skin’s friend and winter air has less of it, so skin can be prone to dryness. Indoor heating and wind can increase water loss in the skin, leading to dryness. There are many thing that one can do to deal with the effects of winter on our skin.”

CLEANSE IT!

If you are using a foaming cleanser, switch to a lotion or creamy formula. These formulas clean the skin while preserving just the right amount of natural skin oil needed to keep the skin healthy. If you insist on using a foaming cleanser, make sure it is sulfate free. April recommends Sensitive Skin Cleanser or Facial Cleanser from SkinMedica. Be sure to use lukewarm to warm water, and rinse 20 times. Inadequate rinsing can leave a residue which can cause irritation and impede further product penetration.

Immediately after cleansing, apply the rest of your skincare products. Skin care works better on damp skin, so do not allow the skin to dry out. Lots of water means a lot fewer lines because the skin is plumped up.

THE BENEFIT OF CREAMS AND BALMS

Consider swapping out your favorite summer moisturizer, which was probably a lotion or gel, for a cream or balm. They are a little heavier, and better protect the skin’s barrier.

This barrier is the outermost layer of your skin. When it is healthy and functioning properly, it prevents water from evaporating from the skin, and protects the skin from the environment. Creams and balms frequently contain glycerin, hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and “essential fatty acids” and they are essential for great skin. Common fatty acids used in skincare are safflower, rosehip, grapeseed, evening primrose, argan, and marula oil.

Great creams and balms are SkinMedica’s TNS Ceramide Treatment Cream, Epionce’s Medical Barrier Cream, and The Center for Cosmetic Dermatology’s Hydrating Repair Cream.

THE SUN STILL SHINES DURING WINTER

Don’t forget your SPF! The sun rises every day, and it emits harmful radiation every day. Sun damage is cumulative, so it creeps up on you! This is a major reason for skin aging. One day you wake up and BAM! Brown spots, redness, rough texture, and lines. Sun damage can lead to dryness too, so couple that with our harsh winters and you have the perfect scenario for dry, irritated skin.

April always recommends a minimum of SPF30. Apply it as your last skin care item, and do not miss a single day! After applying, allow it to set for 8 minutes before applying makeup. It needs this time to create a protective film. Applying makeup too quickly dilutes the coverage. Never mix foundation into SPF either, this also dilutes the coverage and creates a “Swiss cheese” type of protection. The foundation will create little holes of no protection in the SPF. April frequently recommends Advanced Anti-Photoaging Sunscreen SPF50, available exclusively at The Center for Cosmetic Dermatology.

“I like to think of it as a fantastic creamy moisturizer full of antioxidants…that happens to contain SPF50 as well”

CHAPPED LIPS? NO THANK YOU!

Lips are extremely prone to dryness, chapping, and flaking during the winter. April’s personal advice is to “never allow your lips to be free of product…always be applying! I am never far from a lip product and usually have 2-3 in my lab coat pocket at all times.” The lips have no oil glands, so they have no method of self-lubrication the way most of our body does.

April recommends:

1. Don’t scrub or lick your lips

2. Frequently apply lip balm

3. Apply an extra-thick layer of balm before bed

4. Drink lots of water!

Consider trying out Image Skincare’s Ormedic Balancing Lip Complex. It applies like a clear gloss, but hydrates and plumps lips over time via hydration. If you like your lips to be hydrated and protected with some color, Jane Iredale’s PureGloss Lip Gloss is a great choice. It is packed with lip-loving oils, and is petroleum-free.

EXFOLIATE THE HEALTHY WAY

We all love a good scrub to get rid of superficial dead skin cell build up, makes our skin smooth and glowing, but we tend to overuse them because they feel so good. April’s not a fan of scrubs and brushes because they are so easy to misuse, but if one insists, she recommends using a very gentle scrub every 7-10 days, and be very gentle when using it.

April says she can always tell when a patient increases their scrub use, or gets an ultrasonic spin brush. “Their skin is blotchy, and looks thin, fragile and irritable. And because the skin is compromised, we cannot do the treatment we planned. We resort to doing a calming treatment instead of an anti-aging treatment”.

If you are going to use a scrub try SkinMedica’s AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser. The beads are not too concentrated. But “always cleanse your skin prior to using a scrub. Think of your scrub as a polishing step, not a cleansing step. The point of a scrub is to remove dead skin cells, not to cleanse.”

DON’T SKIP THE VITAMIN A

Love your Vitamin A retinol serum, or retinoic acid cream, ie Retin-A, but finding it to be irritating in the winter? You don’t have to discontinue its use, after all it is still THE gold standard in topical antiaging products, but you can modify your use.

April recommends:

1. Only use them at night

2. Apply moisture on top

3. Limit dryness with prior tips

4. Apply a lower strength to irritated skin

5. Don’t use Vitamin A the night you use a scrub

6. Consider lowering use frequency or mix into moisturizer

For combining these products with your moisturizer, try a 50/50 ratio to start, then alter as needed. Apply the mixture, then apply a separate layer of your regular moisturizer over the mixture. To prevent drying at the corners of nose and lips that can occur with topical Vitamin A use, apply you trusty lip balm to your lips, corners of the mouth, and corners of the nose before applying your Vitamin A. April prefers a stick balm, rather than a glossy or pot-style balm.

Good luck out there! Follow these healthy skincare tips, and your face will be glowing and beautiful all winter long! For more information on April and the Center for Cosmetic Dermatology, visit their page.