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During these dreary gray days of winter, few of us can escape the plight of dry skin. If you live in a cold climate, damage to your face, hands and feet from dry, wintry air is so real. Liz Kennedy, most easily recognized for her role as makeover guru on The Steve Harvey Show, is a bicoastal beauty expert who splits her time between New York and Los Angeles. Here, Kennedy gives the lowdown on easy and effective ways to keep skin damage and dryness at bay, especially during the harsh months of January, February and March.
Get a Humidifier (or Two)
The cold, dry air of winter can cause your skin to literally break. Investing in a high-quality humidifier for your bedroom or multiple rooms in your house (depending on your budget) can be a godsend. A good humidifier can replace moisture loss and keep the outer layer of your skin well-hydrated. Enhance the effects of your humidifier by adding lavender or eucalyptus to the water. “Essential oils are a great way to help you calm down at the end of a long day and can enhance your sleep. It’s such an easy thing to do, we often forget about it,” Kennedy says.
Avoid Hot, Long Showers
While we are all desperate to get warm in the winter, turning up the temperature in the shower is definitely not helping your skin thrive. Long, hot showers can irritate your skin and cause damage to keratin cells, which is the most superficial layer of your skin. When disrupted, it becomes harder for these cells to lock in moisture. Also, decreasing the frequency of showers can be a lifesaver for your skin in the long run. Since we are typically sweating less in the winter months, it’s not necessary to shower at the same frequency as the summer. If decreasing frequency is just not an option for you, avoid using body wash or body gels containing surfactants.
When surfactants are combined with water, they can strip natural oils from your skin. Think: More lather, foaming and bubbles equals more damage. Unfortunately, they exist in 90 percent of products. Keep your eye out for this ingredient, and look for mild, gentle cleansers.
Supplement With Vitamin E or Fish Oil
As a rule of thumb, drinking half your bodyweight in ounces of water daily is an easy way to stay hydrated. “To say drink more water is so repetitive. It kind of kills you,” Kennedy says. “Try adding vitamin E oil to your water — it can be hot or cold — to hydrate you from the inside out. You can’t even taste it.”
If you can stomach it, adding liquid fish-oil drops to your water is also extremely beneficial for joint and skin health. If that’s not for you, the capsule form (although less potent and concentrated) is another good option.
Stock Your Gym Bag
Keep good face wipes in your gym bag to remove dirt and makeup that clogs your pores. Kennedy recommends Ursa Major face wipes, which remove makeup without irritating your skin or leaving behind residue. “I find some of the major drug store brands leave a greasy film on my face,” Kennedy states.
“After I cleanse my face, it’s bare and raw, and it only gets dryer when I go from sweating inside to immediately going outside where it’s cold,” Kennedy says. Before leaving the gym, she puts on a thin layer of a hydrating face mask to combat the dryness. Kennedy recommends a line like Naturally Serious for a quality face mask to add to your gym bag.
One seriously overlooked aspect of skin care is our feet. Attention must be paid. Feet can get a little funky in the winter months, since we aren’t walking around in flip-flops and getting pedicures on the regular. Kennedy recommends a brand called Barefoot Scientist to treat feet to some moisture. Just lather them up and slip into some socks for the night!
Add Acid to Your Skin-Care Routine
While the word acid generally brings to mind something extremely harsh or abrasive, acids can be miracle workers when it comes to removing dead skin on your face. “Find an acid that is right for your skin type and use it two to three times per week,” Kennedy says. “After you apply the acid on your skin, add a hydrating skin oil. This way, the acid can do its job while the oil hydrates the skin.” Kennedy recommends medical-grade skin care for this type of product and suggests brands like Revision Skincare and SkinCeuticals, which are less abrasive.