Combat Winter Dry Skin

Does your skin get dry, itchy, flaky, even cracked in the winter?  Mine did, but not anymore.  I’ll tell you how to combat dry winter skin, and I’ll tell you why this approach works.


I. Combat Winter Dry Skin Care – A Multilayer Approach
You no longer have to choose between a water-based light moisturizer which soon leaves you dry and itchy and an oil-based rich moisturizer which leaves your skin greasy and shiny.  You can have soft and moist skin without a greasy feeling by using a layered approach.

Twice a day─morning and evening

Step 1: apply a nutrient-rich moisturizer right after washing and drying your face.  (examples are Olay Total Effects Night Firming Cream, and Neutrogena Ageless Essentials Continuous Hydration).

Step 2: apply a layer of oil on top.  My favorite oils are grape seed oil, olive oil, and jojoba oil.

Step 3: Apply a SPF 10+ moisturizer (skip the SPF part at evening).  My favorite is Aveeno Positively Radiant Skin Daily Moisturizer SPF15. 

Twice a week
Exfoliate your skin twice a week with a mild exfoliator such as InaMei’s SafePeel Beauty Strips.  This will get rid of your excess dead skin cells, allow better skin-nutrients absorption, and encourage new skin cells to grow.

II. Why Our Skin is Extra Dry in Winter
There is much less moisture in the air during the winter.  The air in winter, both indoor and outside, has only about one tenth (or even less) as much moisture in it as the air in summer. The dry winter air reduces moisture in our outmost skin layer, called the stratum corneum.  Dehydrated skin not only feels uncomfortable, it also has a reduced capacity for repair and regeneration.
The skin’s outermost layer, the stratum corneum is made of dead skin cells stuck together by natural oils and lipids.  The stratum corneum layer also holds water.  The oils and lipids seal moisture inside our skins, and this moisture keeps skin soft and smooth. When our skin is deprived of its natural oil and moisture, either by excessive washing or by harsh and dry winter weather, the stratum corneum layer will shrink, causing our skin to feels tight and uncomfortable.  Small cracks can also occur, exposing underlying living cells to irritating substances and germs in the environment.

III. Dry Skin Prevention
The paradox of skin moisturizing is that applying water actually dries skin out more. Warm water and especially warm soapy water is even more detrimental since it strips our skin’s natural oil protection layer.  Commercial moisturizing products usually last about two hours, so one has to reapply moisturizer continuously.

Commercial moisturizers are usually mixtures of water and water-loving ingredients such as glycrine, and water-sealing ingredients such as plant oils, petrolatum, and silicone oils.  As you know, water and oil don’t mix, so an emulsifier (a chemical similar to soap) is used to hold these incompatible ingredients together.  Generally speaking, the more greasy the moisturizer, the longer-lasting it is.
Taking the multilayer approach described at the beginning of this article, your skin can be kept soft and moist all day long.  The first layer of nutrient-rich moisturizer keeps your skin nourished; the second layer of oil seals the moisture in; the third layer sun screen-containing moisturizer keeps you from feeling greasy and looking greasy, and it also protects you from the harmful UV rays in the sun.

IV.  What Not To Do To Your Skin?

1. Don’t wash your face with harsh soap or detergent.
2. Don’t use alcohol-based astringents or wipes.
3. Avoid skin-irritants such as fragrances.