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As the temperature drops, your skin usually takes a turn for the dry and flaky. But just like you swap out your wardrobe each season, you might want to try switching up your skincare routine, says dermatologist David Bank, M.D. Protect your skin this winter by taking these little precautions.
Between the cold weather, low humidity, and indoor heat, your skin is begging for hydration. If you generally have oily or combination skin, you can probably get away with using your same moisturizer as long as you up the frequency to two or three times a day, says Bank. But if your skin is already dry or sensitive, you’ll want to opt for a richer, more calming moisturizer than your usual formula.
You can stash this away with your maxi dresses and sandals—you won’t need it for a while. They tend to dry out your skin, which is something you definitely don’t want in the winter, says Bank.
Ditch anything that isn’t alcohol free or fragrance free—at least until spring. Alcohol is more drying on the skin and fragrances are one of the top causes of skin allergy and sensitivity, says Bank.
Exfoliating in the winter is tricky, because you don’t want to do too much or too little. “You want some exfoliation to get the dead skin cells out of there, but you don’t want to be so aggressive that you irritate the skin,” says Bank. Depending on what your normal routine is, he suggests scaling back a little. So if you’re scrubbing two or three times a week, just do it once. And if you’re only exfoliating weekly, you can scale back to every other week.
If you’re washing your face twice a day with a cleanser, opt for strictly water one of those times. When your skin is already dried out and sensitive, it’s much more easily irritated. “Sometimes even a washcloth may be too abrasive,” says Bank. Play it safe with a water-only wash in the morning or at night.
If you’re seeing a derm for a prescription cream, you can probably hold off a few months. “I have a bunch of patients who can tolerate a prescription-strength retinoid in the warmer months but it’s just too drying and irritating in the colder months,” says Bank. If that’s the case, switch to an OTC formula, which tends to be a little easier on your face.
We know it’s tempting to stand under the shower for an hour—especially when your skin feels like sandpaper. But that’s actually a bad idea. “There’s a paradox that if you take an overly long bath or shower, you get a net evaporation effect of water from the skin because it pulls some of the water molecules out,” says Bank. Stick to a 10-15 minute shower and pat dry with a towel, leaving a little water on your skin.
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