Skip to main content

Protect your skin from winter weather

By Chris C. Anderson,
updated 6:29 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
  • When winter hits, dudes have to moisturize, too
  • Cold weather robs skin of moisture
  • Skin dries out more during sleep than during the day

(CNN) -- I have this annoying little skin condition called rosacea, which means my skin easily gets itchy and flaky when exposed to certain triggers. One such trigger? Cold, dry winter air.

Since I'm a dude, I loathe using lotions -- but when I get a rosacea flare-up in the wintertime, I break down and moisturize after my morning shave.

When winter hits, we all have to make a few concessions when it comes to taking care of our skin. Here are three strategies to try:

Stay in touch!
Don't miss out on the conversation we're having at CNN Living. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest stories and tell us what's influencing your life.

Good: Protect your skin outdoors

Winter is a thief -- a moisture thief. Cold winter air has an extraordinarily low moisture content, to the point where it steals moisture from the skin. "Add to that any type of wind at all, and the molecules of water in your skin are stolen even faster," says board-certified dermatologist Jessica Krant, MD, MPH, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in NYC.

upwave: Eat to save your skin

To protect against this, you need to maintain a barrier between your skin and the air. In other words, layer on both clothing and moisturizing cream. "Clothing does protect as a first layer," says Krant. "Any bare skin -- cheeks, ankles, hands -- will dry out much faster, so decrease skin exposure when you're outside by wearing gloves, long socks and earmuffs."

Also, pre-protect your skin by applying thick moisturizing cream before you get dressed and step outside. "Prevention is more valuable than a dozen applications of cream after you're already red, dry and itchy," Krant says.

upwave: Weatherproof your workout

Kate Marshall, lead aesthetician at NYC's Savor Spa, recommends this protective winter regimen: "Wash your face morning and night with a cream cleanser. Follow with an alcohol-free toner, which will help hydrate your skin and open your pores." She also suggests using a good peptide serum.

Better: Protect your skin indoors

Love long, hot showers? Save 'em for springtime. Krant advises keeping winter showers shorter and less hot, because hot water ultimately strips natural oils from the skin. "Slather on a thick, fragrance-free body cream -- not lotion; it's too watery! -- as soon as you get out of the shower and pat dry, before your skin gets completely dry," she advises. "Evaporation is extremely drying and the goal is to seal that extra moisture in before it escapes."

Krant also advises that you keep a humidifier going indoors in winter -- especially at night, since the skin dries out more during sleep than during the day. And slather your lips with lip balm before sleep. "Mouth breathing at night exacerbates daytime lip chapping," She says you can also slather your lips with plain lip balm or petroleum jelly before sleep to help with the chapping.

upwave: Do I really need to clean my humidifier?

According to Marshall, getting monthly facials in the winter is a good idea (if you can afford it). "An enzyme peel is really good for exfoliating dead skin cells," she says.

Best: Get a head start on winter weather

If you really want to get through winter with silky-smooth skin, then you need to form preventive habits ahead of time. "If you know you get dry, flaky and itchy in winter," says Krant, "start your winter-skin habits in fall. Shorten your showers. Switch to a moisturizing soap, and use less of it -- arms and legs don't need as much soap as other body parts. And start applying cream everywhere twice a day -- especially on your lower legs, lower back and arms."

She also advises that those with itchy winter skin ditch the scented body wash (it's too drying) and go for fragrance-free moisturizing bars instead. So gentlemen, it looks like you'll have to shelve that Axe body wash male-in-heat scent until spring. And ladies, you'll need to step away from the scented soaps during the winter. Your skin will thank you.

upwave: See more wellness tips to live on the up!

This article was originally published on

© 2013 upwave, All Rights Reserved.

Part of complete coverage on
CNN Living reflects your life. From advice for modern parents to the freshest news in food: It's all here.
updated 12:06 PM EDT, Thu August 7, 2014
Travis and Joyce Miller started producing hickory syrup as an experiment. Demand for the unique flavor has turned into a full-time business.
updated 11:05 AM EDT, Tue August 5, 2014
These happy couples kept the campfire flames burning, and turned summer flings into lifetime commitments.
updated 1:33 PM EDT, Thu August 7, 2014
Shanesha Taylor says a moment of "desperation" led her to leave her children in a car during a job interview.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Bikinis might dominate the beaches, but style editors and trend forecasters say the one-piece is the "fashion-forward" choice this season.
updated 10:42 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Are you ready for this? These guidelines tell you when to wash everything, from sheets and cars to bras and hair.
updated 7:21 AM EDT, Thu August 7, 2014
"I am a canvas of my experiences, my story is etched in lines and shading," says tattoo artist Kat Von D. Is this a good thing?