Clearing up dry winter skin can be as easy as a quick trip to the local store

by Beacon Staff • February 7, 2007

Your daily skin care routine may not be doing enough to protect your skin against winter weather. The good ol' bar-and-soap method just doesn't cut it when it comes to skin looking its best this time of year.,Dry, flaky skin isn't just unattractive, it can also cause discomfort. Thankfully, there are ways to solve the unfortunate dilemma of winter skin.

Your daily skin care routine may not be doing enough to protect your skin against winter weather. The good ol' bar-and-soap method just doesn't cut it when it comes to skin looking its best this time of year.

Luckily, there are plenty of inexpensive ways to keep that summer glow all winter long.

According to women's magazine Marie Claire, skin is prone to losing moisture during cold weather. The drop in humidity during the winter months pulls moisture out of your skin. This means skin requires a little extra attention to keep from becoming irritated and cracked.

Dina Grilla, a senior theatre education major, said she experiences extremely dry skin throughout the winter months.

"My winter skin-care regimen changes from season to season. With my eczema worsening in the winter, I have to constantly moisturize to keep it under control," she said.

Eczema is a common dry-skin condition, which can cause itchy, red bumps. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 15 million Americans have symptoms of eczema. The best treatment for this condition is to keep skin moisturized at all times. More serious cases may need treatment by a doctor.

Putasha Lahkiky is an aesthetician and skin expert who works at 30 Newbury Spa. She has more than 18 years of experience working with skincare.

"The biggest step people forget when caring for the skin is exfoliation," she said. "Depending on the type of skin and age of the person, the need for exfoliation differs. It is an essential step to keep skin healthy and help moisturizers work better."

Exfoliation removes dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, allowing the second new layer of skin to better absorb the moisture of creams.

30 Newbury Spa offers an array of facials and skincare that involve exfoliation. For those on a tight budget, exfoliating products in a drugstore might do the trick. For skin that is extremely dry, Marie Claire recommends using a heavier cream, like Noxzema Skin Fitness Intense Replenishment Cream, available at the local pharmacy for about $5.

People who are prone to breakouts and may have oilier skin should use a lighter moisturizer like Clean Clear Dual Action Moisturizer, available for about $6. Apply these moisturizers when you get out of the shower, as damp skin is better suited to seal in moisture.

Although drug-store products are a good alternative, they may not be as effective. "The problem with drugstore products is that the percentages of active ingredients can be too low," Lahkiky said. "Also, cheap addictives and excess alcohol are added." Look for exfoliating scrubs with all-natural ingredients and very little alcohol, like St. Ives Apricot Scrub, which retails for about $4. If you experience dryness or irritation, exfoliate less frequently.

Moisturizers also vary in quality. If you can afford it, creams sold in department stores will often work better than those in drugstores. Vitamins are a key ingredient to a good moisturizer, so look for a high percentage of vitamins when shopping. Of course, spa treatments are the best gift for your skin.

Give in to those professionals-they know what they're doing.

If you can't afford the professional spa treatment, try these tips from Lahkiky. To protect skin from cold weather, she recommends avoiding very hot water in the shower, as it tends to dry out the skin.

One should never stick his or her face is the running shower water, as it can break capillaries and is much too harsh for the facial skin. It's a little-known fact that water dries out the skin. The pH of water is much higher than the pH of skin, according to Lahkiky.

"Dry skin is being attacked by the environment in the winter," she said. "While oilier skin might do better in dry weather, dry skin will suffer."

The next time you are late for class and skimp on the moisturizer, think again about the damage you may be causing your skin. Skincarephysicians.com recommends always using a cream with an SPF of 15 or higher, because sunlight can damage the skin in winter, too. Humidifiers are also a great way to keep moisture in the air and in the skin.

Treat yourself well and your skin will thank you.