Wintry weather wreaks havoc on your hair and skin. Here’s how to fight back.
why your skin gets dry in winter
“As the weather gets colder and drier and heat comes on in buildings and at home, the natural tendency is for skin, hair, and nails to become dehydrated,” says David Bank, MD, director for The Center for Dermatology in Mount Kisco.
what the experts recommend
“Long, hot showers or baths might feel good,” says Diana Hurwitz, MD, a dermatologist with Westchester Medical Group in Rye, “but it is best to limit yourself to five to ten minutes. And the best time to moisturize is right after you bathe; you can trap in at least fifty percent more moisture by applying moisturizer while your body is still damp.
Eucerin Moisturizing Body Wash and Calming Cream (around $9 each) are two products that Dr. Hurwitz recommends that are inexpensive and widely available.
“Use a gentle non-abrasive cleanser like Cetaphil, Neutragena, or Dove Soap for Sensitive Skin,” advises Dr. Bank. Harsh cleansers can strip away protective oils as well as the outer layer of skin, known as the dead skin barrier, which works to trap and hold moisture in, Dr. Bank explains. “And while it may seem counterintuitive to exfoliate, it’s a good idea to do so every week or two to gently remove the very top layer of skin to help the dead skin barrier function more fully.”
At home, keep a humidifier running in your bedroom; the more moisture in the air around you, the more moisture goes into the skin, rather than being pulled out by dry air, Dr. Bank advises. And drink lots of water!
A biotin supplement will improve the look of your hair and nails, Dr. Hurwitz says, as will fish-oil supplements. “Check with your doctor first, but one thousand milligrams a day is good for your hair and nails, is cardio-protective, and works to lower the bad cholesterol while increasing the good.”
Rx for your hands
Washing your hands frequently is good for warding off colds and the flu, but can lead to dry, flaky skin. According to Dr. Bank, Neutrogena Norwegian Hand Formula (around $8) is the thickest and richest hand cream. It can be found at most drugstores.
protect your lips
“Eucerin’s Aquaphor is a non-irritating and fragrance-free lip balm that looks like you’re wearing lip gloss,” says Dr. Hurwitz. “It’s like a whipped Vaseline.” Around $8.
keep your face and skin moist
Just as you don’t wear the same kinds of clothes in June as in January, you want to use different products in different seasons. Dr. Bank suggests a thicker, creamier moisturizer for winter months, oil-free if your skin is prone to acne. His choice? Aveeno Ultra-Calming Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15 and Aveeno Ultra-Calming Night Cream (about $8 each), widely available at mass merchandisers.
best regimen for your hair
If your skin is ultra-dry, you wouldn’t wash off your moisturizer after putting it on. It’s the same deal with rinse-out conditioners; they can’t do the trick for dry, brittle, over-processed hair. But smooth a nickel-sized dollop of L’anza Trauma Treatment ($22.75, at Sephora and select salons) leave-in conditioner through your hair, and consider your hair healed, says Kathleen Troy, a colorist at Paulo’s Atelier Hair Salon in Bedford Hills. This mighty lotion infuses hair with ceramides, important oil-soluble compounds that maintain moisture and elasticity in the hair along with a potent dose of keratin protein that penetrates deep inside the cortex to strengthen the hair shaft.
don’t give your teeth the brush off
Is one toothpaste better than another? We asked local dentists. And? It’s the fluoride, approval by the American Dental Association, and of course your use of it that really matters. "My favorite toothpaste is Crest,” says Dr. Stacie Calian, a dentist at Westchester Smile Design in Yonkers. “It has a pleasant taste. Our office also recommends Fluoridex toothpaste for patients who have sensitivity or request whiter teeth.
It works well." And brush at least two times a day. For how long? "Two minutes," says Mount Vernon dentist Dr. Anthony Debenedictis.