Advice from a Canadian with plenty of extreme cold weather experience
If you’re like me, keeping your skin from drying out in the winter is a constant struggle. My hands make me look ten years older than I am, I have eczema patches on various parts of my body (including inside my ears) and my skin flakes off throughout the day and even cracks and bleeds— not pleasant! I am literally uncomfortable in my own skin in the winter months. Here are ten things I do to help my skin retain as much moisture as possible in the winter months:
Up to 60% of the human adult body is water.* So your body needs constant replenishing, especially after exertion and during colder months when the weather strips the moisture from your skin.
Many people believe in the 8 x 8 rule — drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day — however, this recommendation is not actually based on any science. Women should have more like 9, and men 12 glasses per day.**
Drink tea if you want warmth and flavour. Pukka brand tea is my favourite right now as they use ethically-sourced, organically grown ingredients and come in amazing flavours!
Also, coffee counts towards your daily fluid intake. It’s actually not dehydrating, that is a common myth.***
Several years back, I worked with a global skincare brand that was launching a new line of body washes. I was on a conference call with the Research & Development team to ask them questions and one of the team members said, “Taking a hot shower is one of the worst things for your skin because it dries it out quicker.”
So, if you have the guts to take a cold shower, do it! If not cold, make it as cool as you can. If you need the comfort of a hot shower in the winter (no one blames you), do that sometimes, but not always.
Yes, you read this correctly. As mentioned, hot showers can dry out your skin faster.
Avoid taking extra showers in the winter. If you can, skip one or two showers in the week, perhaps on the weekends. You might not feel as fresh (that’s what deodorant is for), but you’ll certainly survive — and your skin will thank you!
A humidifier is a device that puts moisture back into dry, indoor air.
I have two humidifiers — a small, quiet humidifier in my bedroom that runs all night and a large-capacity one in my living room that I have on at all times when I am home.
Vitamins give your body the nutrients it requires to function properly. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is a great way to get as many vitamins and nutrients as possible. Many doctors will recommend taking a multi-vitamin, particularly during winter cold and flu season. There are many vitamins which are good for your skin, like Vitamins C, D, E and K.
There is another vitamin that a friend recommended I take to help my skin that his friend (a fellow severe dry skin sufferer) swears by, which is Evening Primrose Oil. Evening Primrose Oil is packed with essential fatty acids (EFAs) that support healthy, moisturized skin. Our bodies don’t naturally produce EFAs, so we need to obtain them through our diets and supplementing.
While any doctor or health organization will say that hand-washing is the best way to prevent the spread of colds and the flu, washing your hands with soap strips moisture from your skin. During winter months, try and limit the number of times through the day that you wash your hands — and when you do, moisturize right after to put moisture back into your skin.
I have tried dozens of moisturizers over the years and very few are strong enough to keep my skin well-moisturized during the winter months.
On my face, I’m currently using Aveda Botanical Kinetics Intense Hydrating Rich Cream. If you prefer something that is fragrance-free, I have also used Dermologica Skin Smoothing Cream. Both are priced on the high-end of facial moisturizers, but worth it in my opinion.
For my body, I just discovered Bioderma and it seems to be doing the trick. They have an Intensive Balm which I keep on my nightstand and use daily in the morning right after my (cool) shower and in the evening before I go to bed. I also keep the hand cream on my desk at work and use it at least twice during the day.
In the shower, I use a fragrance-free Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar that my doctor recommended. If you try the Bioderma Intensive Balm and find it’s too thick, I’ve also used the Cetaphil Restoraderm Replenishing Moisturizer and was really happy with it as well.
Last winter, when my eczema flare-ups started getting bad, I went on the hunt for a non-steroid cream and found that Polysporin has an Eczema Essentials line. I use the Polysporin Eczema Essentials Flare-up Relief Cream for any areas that are severely irritated, itchy, red and/or flaking.
Fruits and vegetables contain water. Water hydrates you. Enough said.
Your body re-energizes and repairs itself when you’re sleeping, so ensure you get enough. The average adult needs 7–9 hours of sleep per night.****
Create a routine where you go to bed around the same time every evening and wake up at the same time every morning. This can help ensure you have a better sleep at night.