Half of the year my skin is fine. But as soon as our Ohio air turns cold, I begin my annual transformation from human woman into Crypt Keeper. One time, a well-meaning coworker looked at my red and raw face and asked if I’d had my thyroid checked. I don’t remember what I actually said, but my eyes probably said, “I just look like this sometimes, mmmkay?”
As each autumn has drawn to a close, I’ve embarked on a journey to manage and tame my dry skin for the season ahead. Last year I was pretty sure I’d figured out a system that worked, but wanted to make sure it wasn’t a fluke before sharing. Now that we’re half way through January and I’ve actually received compliments on my skin (they were from my mom but still count) I feel comfortable saying that these things have worked well for me.
1. Shorter, Cooler Showers I’ve learned that long, hot showers are the quickest way to rob our skin of moisture. Warmer water strips the skin of the natural barriers that hold in moisture, and the longer we shower, the more damage is done. In the winter, I used to take at least one very hot shower each day – it felt like the only way I could get my cold-blooded body temperature above freezing. Now it makes sense that I was starting to look like a lizard, instead of just feel like one.
2. Pat, Don’t Rub – My mom has been telling me this since I was a kid, but when you get out of the shower, be gentle with your skin. The goal is not to absorb every drop of moisture with your towel. Gently pat dry, and while the skin is still a bit dewy…move on to number 3.
3. Seal in the Moisture – Using a thick, balmy cream that creates a barrier that moisture can’t escape from. Years ago, my son’s teacher recommended Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Cream and we’ve been using it ever since. It’s unscented, so if you’re looking for more of a sensory experience, I like these body butters a lot.
4. Add Moisture to Indoor Air This might sound crazy – but I was always dubious about humidifiers. They never seem like they’re doing much of anything. But when our sons’ pediatrician recommended adding one to each bedroom, I realized my skepticism was misplaced. Not only does having a cool-mist humidifier help keep your skin hydrated, there is some evidence that they make the air less hospitable to flu viruses. We have this one and like it because it’s easier to clean than others we’ve had in the past and it has a little pad where you can add essential oils for some light aromatherapy.
5. Find the Right Products for You Everyone’s skin is so different and a good dermatologist is the best person to ask about what you should look for in skincare products. My dermatologist recommended CeraVe and Cetaphil but neither did the trick for my skin. Even so, It was a helpful starting place.
I’m sharing the products that have worked for me as a reminder to not give up on yourself (skin-wise and all the ways). It took a solid eight years to find a winter system that worked for me, but I’m glad I kept trying.
I’ve mentioned on Instagram stories, that each winter I’d get a dry patch under my eye that wouldn’t go away until spring. I tried every solution I could think of – from pricey eye creams, homemade concoctions, to straight up oils applied constantly and nothing worked. Toward the end of last winter, I gave this Creamy Eye Treatment a shot. It was from a small local company that my mom found at a craft fair. We loved a lot of their other products and it wasn’t very expensive, so I figured it couldn’t hurt. Soon after I started using it, the dry patch went away and hasn’t come back. I know this sounds like a commercial – I promise it’s not – it was just such a game changer for me that I want everyone to know about it in case it’s your miracle eye cream too.
The other winter skin product that I can’t live without was a total fluke. Months ago, I this added to my Sephora cart so I could get free shipping (that’s how they get you) and it turned out to be better than any face moisturizer I’ve ever tried. I use Organic Rose Hip Oil by The Ordinary and I’ve had great luck with it. Even though it’s straight up oil, I haven’t had any issues with it clogging pores. Since I started using it last summer, I’ve seen Rose Hip Oil sold by lots of other companies as well and I can’t imagine there’s much difference between them.
Of course, everyone is so different, especially when it comes to what works for our skin, but if nothing else, maybe these suggestions can provide hope or inspiration for others who are hydration-challenged.
As with everything, the best results come from sharing our experiences. I’d love to hear what works for you in keeping the winter crispies at bay!(Winter crispies – can we make that a thing? You’re right. Never mind.).
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