1) WHAT CHANGES HAPPEN IN OUR SKIN WHEN THE TEMPERATURES DROP?
When the temperatures drop, cooler winds pick up, and we usually turn up the heat in our homes. We spend more time indoors with artificial heat that dries out our environment, creating skin that is more dull, pale, and dry. So in general, during the colder season, there is a decrease the humidity in our environments and cause increase dryness in our skin.
2) WHY DO SOME SKIN CONDITIONS TEND TO WORSEN IN THE COLDER MONTHS?
Actually, sunlight is a mild anti-inflammatory, which is why skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema tend to improve in the summer with more sunlight exposure. With less sunlight during the colder seasons, these conditions usually worsen.
3)WHAT SPECIFIC CHANGES SHOULD WE MAKE TO MY SKIN CARE REGIMEN TO KEEP OUR SKIN LOOKING RADIANT AND HEALTHY?
-- Increase the moisture in your skin, by switching from moisturizing gels or lotions (which are alcohol or water-based), to moisturizing creams and ointments (which are oil, and petroleum-based). These will do better at trapping the moisture within our skin and not letting it evaporate as much which leads to increased dryness.
-- In the summer, skin usually feels more oily and dirty, so we look for a good strong cleanser that makes your skin feel clean - bubbly/foaming cleanser have more soap so they really feel like they clean your skin, but they dry your skin out more, removing more natural oils/ moisturizers in our skin. In cooler weather, switch to a creamy cleanser which is more moisturizing and won't strip your skin of its natural lipids. Or you may want to skin a cleanser altogether and use omega 3 oil or pure almond oil mixed with warm water that you apply to your skin and wipe of with a warm wet washcloth.
-- All year round we want to exfoliate the skin somewhat, to help remove the dead skin cells so the skin is more radiant and less dull. To exfoliate the skin in the summer it's easier and simpler to use a cosmetic pad impregnated with glycolic and salicylic acid solution. These are easy to swipe across the skin when you are busy and in a hurry after a day outdoors. In the winter, switch to a moisturizer that contains alpha-hydroxy acids - won't be nearly as drying.
4)WHAT GENERAL POINTERS DO YOU HAVE TO COMBAT THIS INCREASED DRYNESS IN OUR SKIN?
There are a few important changes that you want to make in your skin regimen to help hold off dry skin and rashes during the winter months.
-- We may also take longer, hotter showers because they feel good, but did you know that long, hot showers also dry your skin out more? I know that it feels great to take a long hot bath, shower, or jacuzzi, but these activities actually dry out your skin more. As the water evaporates from your skin it pulls the moisture out, and heat creates even more evaporation. Try to shorten the length of your baths, and the key is to apply moisturizer immediately after your bath, when your skin is still damp.. This allows the moisture to remain in your skin.
-- Consider purchasing a warm-air humidifier for your bedroom. As we turn up the furnace in our homes, this turns up the dryness. A warm air humidifier will warm your room and replace the humidity/moisture that is lost.
-- There is often an increase in hand eczema during the winter months, triggered by frequent hand washing, and products that irritate the skin. Many people try to protect their hands when they are doing dishes, or working with products that may irritate their skin, but by wearing rubber gloves, this actually makes the condition worse! When we perspire in gloves, this moisture evaporates and makes our skin even drier and more prone to rash/ eczema. Look for cotton lined rubber gloves - the cotton wicks away the sweat from your skin.
-- Skin thickens on pressure points of our feet, esp our heels and many people complain when the weather gets dry, they get more painful cracks and fissures on their feet. A wonderful trick is to use liquid bandage to help seal these cracks, and to buy lip balm/chapstick tubes to apply to these areas as often as possible. Even superglue can help - it contains cyanoacrylates that help to seal a crack and to speed healing while also taking away the sting that can occur when an exposed fissure comes into contact with the environment.
-- No matter the season, sunscreen is important on a daily basis all year around. Consider switching the sunscreen you use in the winter. In the summer, look for a water-resistant sunscreen that will stick longer and not sweat off as quickly. IIn the winter switch to a sunscreen that is tinted so that you can still preserve a summer-type glow to your skin, and avoid looking washed out and pale.