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Story by LYDIA ZURAW
Cold weather can diminish your skin; here’s how to fight back
If beauty is only skin deep, well, that’s all the more reason to make sure your skin glows. But while we’re obsessing over wrinkles and skin tone, it’s important to keep in mind our skin is actually a functioning body part — in fact, it is our biggest organ. And it’s a vital one.
“The skin’s job is to be a barrier and keep the world out,” says Dr. Katherine Reed of Dermatology Specialists of Spokane.
Unhealthy skin can manifest itself in a number of ways: rashes, inflammation, itching, scaly skin. Some people feel like their skin just has a lackluster tone. Even acne and rosacea — though technically both skin diseases — can sometimes indicate that skin is not properly looked after, Reed says.
GIVE IT A RINSE
Reed recommends cleansing twice a day — in the morning before applying a moisturizer and at night to remove the day’s dirt and dead skin. She says a gentle cleanser is best for most people, but those with oily or acne-prone skin should look for cleansers with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.
Exfoliation can help remove more dead skin than a cleanser alone. It gives skin a brighter tone and allows moisturizer to penetrate better. It can be done with a chemical scrub or mechanically with a product like the Clarisonic. Some cleansers, like those with salicylic acid, include ingredients to exfoliate in addition to cleansing.
“In terms of procedures, facials and microderms are good options for getting that exfoliation all in one shot,” Reed says. “Microderm is a procedure where the esthetician uses a tool to get off that top layer of skin to allow your products to work better and penetrate better as well as to make your skin soft and more radiant.”
There is a whole spectrum of facials, from an extraction facial that opens up clogged acne pores to a hydrating facial that forces in more moisture, to chemical peels that even out pigmentation and can help with acne breakouts.
JUST ADD WATER
So proper hydration is essential for both the look and function of skin. Properly hydrated skin is better able to repair itself and keep out harmful things. But achieving good hydration becomes more difficult when the weather turns cold. “Dry skin is really on the increase during the winter because our fireplaces and heaters are on and they burn up all of the moisture in the air, creating a much drier climate in our homes and office buildings,” Biel says.
Hydrating the skin happens from both inside and outside of the body. Drinking plenty of water helps keep skin hydrated from the inside, while moisturizers provide hydration from the outside and are best applied each morning to protect the skin.
Reed encourages everyone to wear a daily moisturizer with sunscreen in it. Some moisturizers pack a little more technology than others, though.
“The newest trend in moisturizers is a component called ceramide,” Reed says. “It’s a natural fat in all of our skin that helps keep the skin hydrated. As we age, we lose that fat and so moisturizers now are containing it. For example, the biggest brand that’s out there right now is called CeraVe, but all of the companies now are starting use that technology to really put some science behind moisturizers.”
Moisturizers tend to use chemicals like glycerin, hyaluronic acid or propylene glycol that some people have sensitivities to. If you have very sensitive skin, an oil-based product might be less irritating, Reed says.
And even if you have acne-prone skin, moisturizers are not necessarily off-limits. Noncomedogenic or oil-free moisturizers usually work fine, and Biel says regular use of an oil-free moisturizer may actually help reduce the body’s inclination to create excessive oil.
MAKE IT UP
Newer mineral makeups have gotten lots of publicity, and Reed concedes they do offer some benefits. “They are zinc or titanium based, and I think they’re good for sun protection and they’re good for coverage… They’re crushed mineral so they’re a little bit heavier. They don’t feel heavier, but they cover better, and they don’t cause acne.”
CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL
And Reed encourages people to check in occasionally with a dermatologist just for information. She says she sees plenty of people who want to know what products and regimen they should be using based on their skin type. “Even if they don’t really have a current problem,” she says, “understanding skin and learning how to care for skin can really make skin look better.”
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