California’s mild winter climate certainly won’t leave your skin as chapped and raw as environments with much colder temperatures. But that doesn’t mean your skin routine doesn’t need some tweaking for winter.
The winter months are a perfect time to revitalize your skin after its exposure to the summer sun. And even minor changes to your environment — think wet weather, exposure to indoor heat and Santa Ana winds — affect how you should care for your epidermis.
This winter, take these at-home steps to protect your skin:
Make sure to add moisture to your skin
High winds, cooler temperatures and indoor heat can quickly dry out skin. To provide your skin with all the moisture it can get:
- Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air.
- Avoid very hot water when showering or washing your face; it will dry out your skin.
- Switch to a creamier moisturizer, which will create a barrier to help your skin retain its moisture (especially when applied to damp skin).
Hydrate and heal from the inside
To keep your outside layer moisturized and healthy, you might want to look inward. Hydration will keep your skin from drying out easily and give you a healthy glow. One way to stay hydrated is to drink enough water — a step that’s easy to skip when the temperature is cooler. Women should aim to drink eight, 8-ounce glasses and men 12, 8-ounce glasses of water each day.
Another way to keep skin cells healthy is to eat foods high in antioxidants (such as tomatoes, blueberries and spinach) and omega-3 fatty acids (such as fatty fish, avocados and walnuts). These nutrients promote healthy cell production and protect cells from environmental damage.
Continue to use sunscreen in the winter
A milder winter often inspires people to stay active outside. That means more exposure to the sun’s harmful rays, even if the sun doesn’t feel strong. Unprotected exposure to ultraviolet rays is cumulative, meaning that it adds up over a lifetime. Too much exposure can lead to skin cancer and premature aging.
Make it a habit to use broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least 15 SPF on exposed skin all year long. To make it easy, choose a creamy winter moisturizer that already includes SPF.
Repair summer sun damage
Even if you were careful to protect your skin last summer, you might be seeing some residual sun damage like dark spots and fine lines.
The good news is that it is possible to improve the state of your skin. Adding retinol, derived from vitamin A, to your skincare routine can help reverse damage by increasing the amount of collagen and cell turnover in your skin. If you have sensitive skin, check with your doctor about the right formulation and strength to use.
Protect your hands and lips
Your hands and lips dry out in winter months just as easily as the skin on your face. Apply lotion to your hands every time you wash them. Use gloves outside if the temperature drops – even a thin pair can make a difference.
To protect your lips, keep drinking water and try not to lick your lips. A lip balm with added sun protection will help avoid dryness, chapping and sun damage.
If you have concerns about your skin or questions about how to treat your skin in the winter months, reach out a UCLA Health dermatologist.