How Can I Protect My Skin and Eyes from the Biting Cold?
Cold winter weather can be a nightmare for everyone’s skin and exposed body parts—not just those who have sensitive complexions. The lower temperatures, cold wind, and dry indoor air causes the water in our skin to evaporate more, and as a result we get itchy, dry, and even painfully cracked skin, not to mention dry eyes, which can also (ironically) tear up. Unfortunately, it takes more than just slapping on some moisturizer to protect your skin and combat the brutal weather. Here are a few tips to winter-proof yourself when you have to brave the cold.
Cover Up as Much as Possible
It goes without saying, but the less exposed your body is to the elements, the better. You don’t have to don a ski mask and goggles (or so much you can’t put your arms down), just to commute to work. The key is to choose your clothing carefully.
- The best winter jackets have features designed to block the snow or cold air from getting in. For example: storm flaps over the zipper, drawstrings or other closures on the sleeves and waist, a high or stand-up collar. Dick’s Sporting Goods has a winter jacket buying guide if you’re looking for a jacket that will keep you comfortable and safe from the elements this winter.
- Knit hats and earmuffs are nice, but a hood—especially one that’s insulated—will block the wind from the sides of your face.
- Similarly, leather or insulated gloves are a better physical barrier than cotton.
- Don’t forget a scarf to cover not just your neck, but to pull up over your nose when it gets really stormy.
- Make sure your clothes aren’t too loose; if they are, the wind will find its way in. As an alternative to tight clothing, layers are your friend. (Uniqlo’s Heattech line of clothing for men and women can keep you warm.)
- Also, avoid scratchy clothing like wool, since it can disrupt the barrier on you skin that keeps in moisture.
Use the Right Skin Care Products
Even if your body is covered head to toe, your skin is still prone to drying out in the winter. This is the time to reevaluate our skincare regimen.
- When washing up, use creamy, non-foaming cleansers and moisturizing body washes instead of more drying soaps. Also avoid astringents, especially those containing alcohol, since they can strip skin of its moisture.
- Over on The Telegraph, facialist Joanne Evans recommends exfoliating dry, flaky skin three times a week if you have dry skin or twice a week if you have oily or combination skin. By getting rid of the dry skin on top, you help new moisture-rich cells move to the surface, says Marie Claire. The key is to follow exfoliating with lots of moisturizer or a healing hydrating mask.
- Moisturize, frequently throughout the day!
- If you use a light, water-based lotion, switch to a more moisturizing cream or oil. WebMD suggests looking for “nonclogging” oil ingredients such as avocado, mineral, primrose, or almond oils. Or look for lotions with “humectants,” which attract moisture to your skin: glycerine, sorbital, and alpha-hydroxy acids.
- If you have really delicate or sensitive skin, watch out for products that contain sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), which has been found to irritate skin and make it more permeable.
- A shielding lotion like Gloves in a Bottle or O’Keeffe’s Healthy Hands help form a barrier that last even with frequent hand washing.
- Don’t forget the sunblock, particularly on and under your nose if you’re active outdoors.
- Finally, frequently apply lip balm with SPF—but avoid the drying ones that contain camphor, phenol, menthol, OL, or salicylic acid.
Protect Your Eyes
Both the outdoor and indoor winter environments can aggravate our eyes, making them dry or teary. There’s nothing like walking out into the cold, a gust of wind causing you to tear, and that water then drying out the delicate area under your eyes. (My eyes are chapped!) To prevent this:
- Wear sunglasses, preferably the kind that wrap around your face. This will help against both snow glare and the cold wind.
- If you have dry eyes, apply artificial tears or mild lubricating eye drops.
- Contact lens wearers should re-wet their lenses often.
- Blink more.
- All About Dry Eye recommends applying warm compresses at night or when you wake up to help with tear secretion
- And, yes, moisturize the delicate eye area.