With winter weather threatening the way we retain moisture, many of us are looking to protective styles to protect our gorgeous locks, but how many of us are neglecting to put the same dedicated effort into protecting our skin?
As temperatures drop and the air becomes drier, our skin is at its most vulnerable. And because the effects of winter are more visibly pronounced on darker skin tones, it’s important for us to take extra precaution with protection in the harsh cold of winter.
CLEANSING AND MOISTURIZING
While moisturizing seems like an absolute no-brainer, retaining moisture throughout the day can be a challenge in frigid, dry weather. Creating the best infrastructure for your skin to maintain the ability to retain moisture starts with cleansing.
“Limit your showers to five minutes using lukewarm water vs. hot water,” Philadelphia based, board certified dermatologist, Dr. Nazanin Saedi suggests. “As comforting as those long, hot showers in the winter seem, they tend to dry out the skin.”
Another routine to cut back on in the winter is exfoliating, according to licensed aesthetician, Niecey Duncan. “One of the biggest skincare mistakes I see is over-exfoliating during the winter months because the skin tends to be drier,” says Duncan. “There's a belief that [exfoliating] will take away the dryness and any flakiness. Over-exfoliating actually causes the skin to appear and feel even drier which can lead to inflammation and in darker skin types. This can cause skin tones to become uneven with areas of hyperpigmentation.”
While bathing, avoid the use of antibacterial soaps as board certified dermatologist, Dr. Debra Jaliman, MD, states that these are very drying. “Use a moisturizing body wash like Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash ($8, target.com),” she suggests.
Jaliman also suggests using a mild cleanser when washing the face. “Radiance Gentle Cleanser ($35, searadiance.com) does not strip the skin of its natural moisture and actually adds more moisture from aloe, glycerin, ceramides and hyaluronic acid.”
She adds, “Use a moisturizer right after you get out of the shower when the skin is still moist. [This] will bind water to the skin and make it more moist.”
As far as moisturizers go, Dr. Saedi tells her patients to reach for products rich in Vitamin C, peptides and hyaluronic acid during the winter.
“For the face, I recommend Elta MD Complex Barrier Renewal Cream to my patients. I recommend DCL’s C-Scape High Potency Night Booster 30 ($120, dermstore.com), which is fabulous for restoring your skin while you sleep. It’s a luxury vitamin C formula so you can expect a uniformed and radiant complexion when you wake up,” she offers.
“For the body I recommend DCL’s C Scape High Potency Body Lotion ($50, dermstore.com),” syas Dr. Saedi. “It’s one of the few lotions I think is rich enough to compete with body creams in the winter. It’s a formula filled with vitamin C to ensure thorough hydration.”
Holistic skincare expert and founder of Celsaderm Skincare, K.D Gates, is also an advocate for products potent in vitamin C.
“A skin brightening serum rich in vitamin C works great to erase dark spots and even skin tones,” she says. “I love Celsaderm's Rapid Bright Ultra-Brightening Serum ($16, celsaderm.com).”
One of the best ways to protect your hair during the winter is to maintain the health of the skin from which it grows - the scalp!
“During the winter months, the best way to treat common winter scalp problems such as drying, flaking, or itching, is to do a deep cleansing for the scalp. Most of the time, we tend to pay attention to the hair, but focusing on the scalp is a must,” says celebrity hairstylist Nelson Vercher.
“The best way to do this is to use a pre-cleansing oil treatment on scalp, before you shampoo and condition. I also advise to shampoo more often in the winter time, because you get much more build up on the scalp during winter.”
“My holy trinity combo is Rene Furterer Complexe 5 ($49, dermstore.com), raw cold pressed coconut oil and tea tree oil. Alternate between the three of these and follow with a very moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. Your scalp will be healthy, which really helps the hair grow strong from inside out.”
Before washing, Emmy Award winning Andre Walker -Oprah Winfrey’s former hairstylist of over 30 years and co-founder of Andre Walker Hair- advises to “brush or massage your scalp before cleansing to stimulate blood circulation to promote a healthy scalp and to remove any flaking from dryness.”
“This also helps to bring natural oils to the surface which are great for your hair, but also help to seal in your scalp’s natural moisture. At this stage, you should use a natural oil like Mongongo to massage into your scalp. Mongongo is one of the few oils that have healing and moisturizing properties.”
“Shampoo with a mild paraben and sulfate free moisturizing shampoo to keep your scalp clean. Using my Ultimate Moisture Shampoo ($10, target.com) not only cleanses but it's also very gentle and helps your scalp to maintain moisture without any harsh ingredients to dry your scalp. Increasing your water intake is also important. This helps to hydrate your entire body as well as you scalp. You can't drink too much water,” says Walker.
Though it may not be top of mind - with winter exhibiting shorter days, meaning less exposure to sunlight, and not to mention the fact that sporting built in melanin feels like you basically have a superpower against the sun - SPF is a fundamental instrument for protecting the skin.
According Dr. Saedi, “Lots of people assume SPF isn’t necessary for melanin-rich skin and especially not in the winter, but they are wrong. We all need SPF.”
“Use products with high quality sun protecting ingredients in even the dead of winter,” advises Dr. Saedi.
If you’re concerned about the white film that many sunscreens often leave behind on darker skin tones, Gates suggests using non-mineral based sunscreens. “Because mineral-based sunscreens, those with titanium dioxide and or zinc oxide as their active ingredients can leave a white cast on darker skin, it's best to avoid those,” says Gates. “My favorite is Clear Face Liquid Lotion by Neutrogena ($9; target.com). It's fragrance-free, lightweight and will not leave a white cast.”
Saved for last because it’s most notorious for being the dead giveaway for dry skin - we’ve all fallen victim to ashy hands. Second to the face, our hands tend to be the most exposed body part to winter’s chilling temperatures. For the hands and extremities, dermatologists agree that shea butters, cocoa butters, coconut oil, argan oil, avocado oil and heavier creams are all great options for protecting your skin.
Look for these options in travel size to apply while out and on the go: