Winter-proof your skin – Today's Parent - December, 2011
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Winter-proof your skin – Today's Parent - December, 2011

Winter-proof your skin

By Aileen Brabazon

Baby, it’s cold outside. But the elements don’t have to get the better of your face. Aileen Brabazon shows how to have a beautiful complexion all season long.

Morning and night, wash away the pollution, makeup or other stuff that’s settled on your skin. Lathering up with soap can leave your face dry. Instead, choose a cleanser formulated for your skin type. “If you’re dry, use a cream-based cleanser,” says Holly Sherrard, Canadian education manager at The International Dermal Institute, an organization that trains skin therapist. Gel-based cleansers are great for combination and oily complexions. 

2. Fight flakiness
If your skin is extra dull and flaky, you can blame the weather. The cold air outside and heated air inside rob your skin of moisture, leaving it dry. The solution to a brighter, smoother complexion is to exfoliate about three times a week. To do the job, there are two types of exfoliates:

  • Chemical exfoliates contain hydroxyl acids or enzymes that dissolve dead skin cells (they feel like a thin lotion when you apply with fingertips, then rinse away). 
  • Mechanical exfoliants contain tiny beads that physically scrub off dead cells as you rub them over your skin. If you opt for a mechanical scrub, use it with a tender touch. “Think about how you would apply moisturizer to your child’s body – you want to use that type gentle pressure on your own skin,” says Sherrard. And if your skin is very sensitive, use a micro-exfoliating scrub, as it’s a gentler way to remove dry skin. 

3. Don’t forget the SPF
Sun protection in the winter is a must, especially when you build snowmen, sled or ski on sunny days with your family. According to the Canadian Dermatology Association, snow reflects up to 80 percent of the sun’s shine, which means you get almost a double dose of radiation when you play outside. So coat your complexion in sunscreen. “I suggest clear spray sunblocks for people who tend to break out, and creams for people who are drier,” says Dr. Lisa Kellett, a dermatologist at DLK on Avenue, a clinic in Toronto. You can layer moisturizer over your sunscreen or use a lotion that contains it. Just make sure the product offers at least SPF 30 and UVA/UVB protection.

“More skin conditions arise in the winter (such as dehydration and sensitivity), partially because of the change of weather, and we need extra help in maintaining the heath of our skin,” says Sherrard. Serums to the rescue: They’re concentrated products packed with active ingredients, she says, that help heal your skins troubles. For example, calming serums can help soothe red irritated complexions, and hydrating ones can quench parched skin. Pick a serum formulated to treat your particular woe as well as your budget, and apply it at night before moisturizing.

5. Hydrate, hydrate hydrate!
To help prevent dryness and make your face as soft as your baby’s bottom, moisturize morning and night. Oily and combination skin types do best with oil-free lotions. “If you’re drier, use a cream-based moisturizer,” says Kellett. You may need two hydrating products – one with SPF for during the day (if you aren’t using a separate sunscreen product) and another without it for nighttime. After cleansing and exfoliating, lightly towel off without completely drying your face. “The best time to apply moisturizer is when your skin is still damp,” Kellett explains “because it locks in moisture.” 

Health writer Aileen Brabazon’s winter skincare staple is moisturizer, and lots of it!

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