When the weather gets colder, you change your wardrobe to protect yourself from the cold. But there’s something else you should update that’s not so obvious: your skin care routine. Colder, drier air can irritate your skin and make it flaky and itchy, chapping your lips and hands. It can also make fine lines and wrinkles on your face more noticeable.

Thankfully, there are some simple things you can do to keep your skin feeling and looking good all through the winter.

Gentle cleaning

It’s tempting to take long, hot showers in the winter to warm up, but it isn’t good for your skin. Hot water from a bath or hot tub can irritate your skin and make it dry, so limit the length of time and how often you soak. When you bathe:

  • Use warm water instead of hot. Close the door to help your skin absorb the warm, moist air.
  • Use unscented, gentle bar soap and avoid deodorant, which can be too harsh on sensitive skin.
  • Limit your shower or bath to five or 10 minutes.
  • Put on a thin layer of body oil before you dry off, and then blot yourself dry with a towel.
  • Blot, rather than rub, your skin dry. Then apply a skin cream to your body and hands before you get dressed. This helps your skin seal in existing moisture.

When you wash your face, use a fragrance-free, gentle cleanser and rinse with warm water. Avoid products that have alcohol, fragrances, retinoids or alpha-hydroxy acids, all of which can dry your skin.

If your skin isn’t overly dry or irritated, use a light, exfoliating scrub once a week to remove dead skin cells and give your complexion a brighter look. Ask your dermatologist how often you should exfoliate for your skin type.

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize

Moisturizers hydrate the top layer of your skin and hold moisture in. When temperatures drop, switch to creams and ointments rather than lotions, which are lighter. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends oil-based products that use olive oil, jojoba oil or shea butter. If your skin is prone to breakouts, look for products that are noncomedogenic, which means they won’t block your pores.

Ingredients that soothe dry skin include:

  • Dimethicone
  • Glycerin
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Lactic acid
  • Lanolin
  • Mineral oil
  • Petrolatum

And, just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t get a sunburn. Apply sunscreen if you’re going outdoors.

Winter weather can be particularly hard on your lips and hands. Always have lip balm handy, and bring a small tube of hand cream or ointment to put on your hands after you wash them. Wearing gloves can also help prevent dryness and keep your hands warm.

Healthy winter skin starts at home

You can make a few changes at home to protect your skin:

  • Close up any leaks in insulation, windows or other areas of your home that may be letting in cold air. This can also help you save on your energy bills.
  • Don’t sit in front of the heater or fireplace, which dries out your skin.
  • Don’t wear clothes that chafe or scratch your skin, such as wool or acrylics.
  • Use a humidifier, which releases water vapor and adds moisture to the air.
  • Use gentle, fragrance-free and hypoallergenic laundry detergent to avoid irritating your skin.

When it’s time to pull out the sweaters and jackets, let it be a reminder to change up your skin care routine too.

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