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PUBLISHED: 1:22 PM on Wednesday, October 5, 2005
Skincare not just for summertime

In this age of the increasingly sun-obsessed, most people have come to grips with the fact that, come summertime, sunscreen is as much a part of their lives as barbecues and weekends at the beach. Unfortunately, it's all too typical for the notion of protecting your skin to vanish once the temperatures dip and the kids go back to school. But as many dermatologists will tell you, just because Labor Day has come and gone that doesn't mean the responsibility of taking care of your skin is gone, too.

As the seasons change from fall into winter, a combination of cold, harsh temperatures outside and dry, warm temperatures inside can wreak havoc on your skin. With these factors in mind, caring for your skin in the wintertime is equally as important as summertime care.

But what can you do?

Fortunately, there are many avenues you can take so your skin feels more like a human's and less like a lizard's in the winter months.

Face & body

One of the best ways to keep your skin protected from harsh winter conditions is by using a soap substitute, such as a moisturizing soap lotion. These always come in liquid form and, unlike soap, are not surfactants, meaning your skin is more likely to retain its top hydrating lipids. Along with using a moisturizing soap lotion in lieu of traditional soap, Dr. Kathy A. Fields, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in San Francisco, Calif., suggests you should generously apply a moisturizer immediately after you get out of the shower while your skin is still damp. This will allow your body to lock in the moisture of its natural skin barrier.

Though many people choose to spend the winter months hibernating next to their nearest heating vent, there are those who enjoy a winter escape to the slopes.

Such trips are often your skin's worst nightmare, as cold temperatures are regularly mixed in with windy conditions. A great way to combat this lethal combination is the use of fleece-based protection over your entire face. And while you may not be out soaking up rays on the beach, sunscreen is just as necessary when hitting the slopes-or anytime you are outdoors, for that matter. A moisturizer that contains a sunscreen is the easiest form of application, and one you're not likely to forget.

If you're not the type to brave winter weather and are more inclined to spend your winters indoors, then a humidifier can be a great way of protecting your skin from some of winter's harshest side effects. By increasing the amount of moisture in the air, a humidifier is, in turn, keeping your skin more moist as well.

Hands

Avoid putting your hands in water during winter months to keep them protected.

Whether doing dishes or just washing your hands, limiting their contact with water in the winter months can greatly decrease how much your skin drys out or cracks.

While this may sound strange, as an alternative, just wash your fingertips to significantly reduce the chances of having the skin on your hands crack.

At night wear gloves over moisturized hands to also keep your hands safe. By applying moisturizer and then covering the skin with a pair of silicone-lined or even cotton gloves, you are increasing the likelihood of the moisturizer penetrating your skin.

Lips

While cracked skin on your hands is a big problem for many throughout the winter months, the same can be said of chapped lips.

For many, products that are designed specifically to combat this problem are simply not enough. If this is the case for you, do your best to avoid licking your lips during the day or chewing on the dead skin that results from the chapping.

Often-times, a chief cause of chapping is your personal breathing patterns at night while you sleep. By breathing through your mouth at night, air is crossing over your lips, gradually chipping away at the moisture your lips typically store. By changing your nightly breathing patterns and attempting to breathe out through your nose, you are allowing your lips to retain more moisture.

It also helps to apply a product such as petroleum jelly to your lips before you go to sleep to keep your skin hydrated.

So while you might spend the latter part of the year putting away all the beach chairs and rolling the grill back into the garage, remember not to pack up that sunscreen and keep taking care of your skin.


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