Brrrrracing for Winter – Do’s & Don’ts for your Winter Skin

I have a confession to make – even though I live in Minnesota, I haven’t always been mindful of keeping my skin moisturized during the coldest months of the year. Until last year, that is –that’s when I noticed that my dry, itchy skin was actually beginning to crack and flake in places, so much so that parts of my skin hurt. That’s when I asked my Fantasia experts what to do – and here’s their do-or-die advice:

Winter Skin Care Do’s

Repair & Restore! Summer is when many of us (me included!) throw caution to the wind, and turn to more harsh facial cleansers and stronger exfoliants, to help rid the skin of harmful chemicals like chlorine, and pollutants. We spend more time outdoors, resulting in more dryness or more oiliness depending on our skin type. Summer sweats can result in blotchy skin and more breakouts, so fall is the perfect time to do some damage control. Fantasia Aestheticians recommends a healthy, well-balanced facial, one that will actually clear your pores and identify what skin problems need attention. “Many people think a facial is a luxury, when it’s actually a necessity, especially going from season to season.” They recommend a monthly facial for women with skin problems, and one every other month for everyone else.

A professional facial offers health benefits that a DIY treatment just can’t. That includes a steam machine to clean pores, light therapy to remove any lingering bacteria, hot towels to stabilize oil production, and massage to stimulate healthy cell growth. A professional treatment will not only correct many summer skin problems, it will restore health and well-being to your skin all winter long.

Switch it up! Now’s the time to swap out those too-harsh summer products for gentler winter products. That means cutting back on the twice-a-week facial masks to once a week, and using a gentler exfoliant, and milder facial cleanser. Fantasia Owner Twila cautions that winter is not the time to throw out the sunscreen. “No matter how cold it gets, everyone still needs to use an SPF-15 sunscreen,” she advises. “UVA rays can still harm your skin, even when there’s less sun,” she adds. Twila recommends using a moisturizer with SPF, so you automatically protect your skin, even when temps are lower.

Mist, mist, mist! Let’s face it, heaters are notorious for literally sucking the moisture out of the air – and your skin. Make sure your humidifier is in tip-top shape to counter those heat effects, and keep your skin calm and hydrated. Fantasia Aestheticians say “Keep a face mister with you at all times, and whenever you feel too hot – whether it’s at work, on the subway, or in a store – mist your face to keep it moisturized, without ruining your makeup.”

Winter moisturize from the feet up! Make it a habit, like I did, to reach for the moisturizing lotion the minute you step out of the shower or bath. Not only will it retain the moisture, it will continue to pamper your skin with much-needed emollients. But don’t continue using the same moisturizer you did for the summer, which are often gel-based, and can block your pores during the winter. Instead, switch to a lotion with a creamier base, especially one with oil-rich ingredients like shea butter. Your winter moisturizer will protect your skin from the elements in a way that a summer lotion can’t. Each night, lather the lotion on your feet, and even wear socks to bed, to keep that hydration going all night long.

Carry hand lotion with you, all winter long! Fantasia General Manager Leanne reminds us that our hands are often exposed indoors, throughout the winter. Drying heat and wearing gloves can quickly dry up the skin on our hands, so it’s important to always carry hand lotion with you. Again, make sure it’s an oil-based hand cream that can lend a helping hand to often dry and cracked mitts.

Winter Skin Care Don’ts

No more long, hot showers. I have to admit that one of my favorite routines in the winter, is to step into a steamy shower and just lounge there…after facing the wintry temps, a hot shower feels like being wrapped in a warm, snuggly blanket. “Knock it off!” say Fantasia aestheticians. “When you shower or bathe in hotter than usual water, it washes away that oil barrier that keeps skin hydrated,” they informed me. Try to maintain the same temp all winter long, and allow for a 5 to 7 minute shower. Not only will your skin thank you, but so will your utility bill.

Don’t over-exfoliate. We’re all inclined to get rid of those dry skin cells at first glance, but be careful. When you scrub or exfoliate too hard or too often, you’re also exposing more of your skin to drying winter heat. Use a milder exfoliant, and consider switching to a weekly facial mask, instead – a mask will often remove those pesky dead skin cells while it rehydrates your face.

And don’t over-moisturize. I know, I know, it almost sounds like the opposite advice when I say moisturize, moisturize, moisturize – but don’t over-moisturize. Too much of a good thing can be bad for your skin, too. Healthy skin needs only a certain amount of nutrients and oils, so first, use a moisturizer that’s specially formulated for your skin type – and then follow the directions on how much to use at a time. If you have oily skin, you don’t want to add oil on top of oil, so choose an oil-free facial moisturizer, while dry skin calls for moisturizers and serums that are brimming with skin-replenishing ingredients. These include antioxidants, plus a balanced combination of glycerin, ceramides, glycerides, and fatty acids.

Don’t overlook your lips! Dry, chapped lips are a sure sign of winter weather, so keep the lip balm close at hand. Lather up your lips right before bed, and wake up to dewy lips. Don’t try and cover up dry lips with lipstick or lip gloss – that merely hides the dryness temporarily, instead of moisturizing them. Carry lip balm with you, and kiss dry, chapped lips good-bye!