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Moisture Is Key to Keeping Skin Healthy in Winter

Skin care experts agree that moisture is key when it comes to keeping your skin healthy and supple during the dry winter months.

Cold winter air and home heating can cause the skin to dry out. Keeping the skin moisturized and protected during the winter months is critical.

Most people are guilty of “over cleansing” with hot water and harsh soaps that can rob the skin of its natural moisture. This effect is heightened during dry winter months, when there is less humidity in the air.

The following tips are suggested to keep your skin looking healthy and refreshed in the winter and throughout the year:

  • Staying clean is important, but don’t overdo it. Use mild cleansing agents, such as Dove, Cetaphil or Oil of Olay, and limiting showers to less than 10 minutes using lukewarm water.

    Your arms, back and legs don’t need to be soaped-up during every bath or shower; plain water rinses these areas well, but it makes sense to soap the underarms and private areas every day.

  • Use a daily moisturizer appropriate for your skin type. Moisturizer products seal water into the skin and help it stay soft and supple. Without this surface protection, water can evaporate and the skin becomes dry and flaky.
  • Moisturizers have emollient qualities, so applying them daily helps the skin stay hydrated and feel softer. By creating smoother skin, they can help reduce the appearance of aging. The best time to moisturize your skin is after bathing, when the skin is still warm and moist.

    Scientifically, there’s no data to support natural versus synthetic moisturizer products. Many moisturizers can be good for the skin – the goal is to use them. It’s really a matter of preference whether you like lotions that are less greasy, or heavier moisturizers like thick creams, oils, or Vaseline for your moisturization needs.

    If one is good about using moisturizers on a regular basis (at least daily in the winter time) and the skin remains dry or itches, a visit to your dermatologist would be recommended.

  • Keep a humidifier in your house. This will maintain a healthy level of moisture in the air and can help prevent dryness of the skin, nose, eyes and throat.

  • Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is important for general health and may help the skin to absorb other treatment products you put on.

It is also suggested that you continuing to use sunscreen daily during the winter months, since ultraviolet rays are present whether it’s warm or cold. Everyone, especially fair-skinned individuals, should apply a daily sunscreen with a protection factor of 15 or more every day.

This article originally appeared in UC Health Line (11/30/06), a service of the Academic Health Center Public Relations Communications Department and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission, 2006.

For more information:

Go to the Skin Care and Diseases health topic.