Winter Skin Problems Are Legit, But Here’s What You Can Do

by Sara Farrell Baker
Originally Published: 
Stepan Obruchkov photography / Getty

Winter is a sack of crap for your poor, beautiful face. Everywhere we turn, the environment is drying us out. We are itchy. We are burning. We are red. Our skin feels tight and chunks of it are flaking off and you just want to dunk your face in a bowl of warm milk, but it’s all turned to ice cream because, baby, it’s cold outside.

And inside.

Everywhere is cold. If you are somehow not cold, it’s either because you live in the tropics or because your heat is blasting hard enough to melt Elsa right out of existence. That dry heat is also leaching all the moisture from your skin. There is no escape!

The dry, winter air sucks up the natural layer of protective oils our skin produces, leaving us raw and dry and defenseless against the elements. *shakes fist* Damn you, elements! Wind makes it even worse and if you’ve never experienced windburn, I suggest you buy yourself a balaclava and hope it never happens to you.

This time of year, it’s more important than ever to moisturize the living hell out of your skin. Layers of moisture. Apply a product and let it absorb for a minute and then apply another layer. You want to replace what has been taken away from your skin while giving it some reserves to protect the oils it makes again.

One delightful, but serious, culprit of epic dryness is hot showers. I know, I know. Hot showers make life worth living in the winter. When it feels like your bones have frozen within you, there is nothing like a hot shower to bring your temperature back up to that of a living person. But heat dries out skin and extended hot showers are big ol’ moisture leachers. Try to keep your showers brief and warm. I’m sorry. Don’t hate me.

And for the love, do not wash your face in the shower. Even if you’re being really good about not running the water too hot, it’s still going to be too hot for the delicate skin on your face. Wait until you get out and wash it in the sink with lukewarm water.

If you decide you need to combat the dry air in your home or office, get thee a humidifier or twelve. Desktop humidifiers are great for keeping you in your own little dew cloud while at work. They even make ones that fit in the cupholder of your car! Sleeping with a humidifier running in your room will not only help your skin stay hydrated, it will keep you from waking up with those awful winter sore throats that come from inhaling the heated forced air all night.

Some people like venturing outdoors when it’s blistering cold out. I don’t know what is wrong with you people, but you do you. If you insist on being in nature while nature is screaming at you to get your ass to your nearest hearth, at least protect your skin while you’re out there, I guess. I wasn’t kidding about windburn. You do not want it. And if you pair that with sun exposure and chapped or peeling skin, you are in for a world of hurt. Use some kind of barrier like Aquaphor to seal in moisture and protect your face from losing too much as Jack Frost nips at all your bits. This works especially great on cheeks and lips, two places prone to increased dryness in the cold. Also, consider covering up by wrapping a scarf around your face or donning a chic serial killer ski mask.

Since noses tend to run and then get wiped a million times a day, spring for the nice tissues. Ones with aloe or lotion are soothing and will provide you with a little more comfort while you attempt to unstuff your schnoz. Applying a healing salve to the skin around your nose can help reduce redness and peeling and get you back to your pre-Rudolph appearance a little faster.

And don’t neglect the rest of your body. Everything is dry in winter. Everything. From your head to your toes and everything in between, a little TLC can go a long way. Be sure to moisturize your whole body. The best time to apply your lotion is right after you shower. Your skin is holding onto a little water from when you were bathing, but it isn’t going to hold on long. That water is quick to evaporate, so slather some lotion on to lock a bit of it in.

Using products you enjoy and keeping them out where you can see them is going to make it more likely that you will actually use them. Set alarms, leave lotions stashed throughout your house, stick notes to your bathroom mirror, do whatever you have to do to make yourself remember to moisturize and moisturize and moisturize again. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck telling people that no, it isn’t snowing, that’s just your dead skin flakes on your shoulders. Not a fun conversation for anyone.

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