Skin Care

By Erin Williams

Snow falling on the hillside, piles of blankets on your bed, and finally a reason to wear those cashmere sweaters – winter at its finest! However, those are the highlights. It also involves hearing your heater bang at three am, sludging through icky black snow, and caressing crocodile scaly skin. Sexy, no? We can help you with the skin part, aside from that; you’re on your own.

There are so many effects that contribute to dry skin in the winter; the main one is the lack of humidity in the air. As a result the air now has “dry skin,” and will run all over looking for any opportunity to steal some moisture. The first and easiest thing to do is get a cool-air humidifier. Simply put, it will bring humidity back into your room so the air is happy. It won’t come and pillage your body while you’re sleeping. This makes a huge difference. The humidifier also combats congestion. Your insides won’t be sapped of all moisture as you lie snoozing with your mouth open. Not that I ever do that.

Other practical tips include taking flax oil tablets; this is effective when eczema flares up in the cold weather. My least favorite aspect of winter skin is that showers are bad, and baths are worse. Keep them short and warm, not hot, and your skin will thank you. My skin never thanks me either. I’m a hot shower girl!

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But how do you know when to switch on the old skincare regime? We spoke with Elaine Linker, the co-founder of DDF (Doctor’s Dermatologic Formula) Skin Care who said, “While there is no exact time to switch skincare…unfamiliar tightness, redness, and or an itchy feeling, particularly on the body, are all signs a change would be good.” DDF’s Glycolic Body Lotion contains lactic acid and was formulated to duplicate the benefits of Lachydrin, a prescription body lotion for dry, itchy skin. Always apply your moisturizer to your face and body when your skin is slightly damp to make them the most effective. You can purchase DDF skincare at www.ddfskin.com, www.beauty.com, or www.macys.com

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Esthetician Renee Rouleau has quite a few winter skincare tips. She says to never use a bar of soap on your face since its binders have a high pH level. Soap will strip the water and natural oils from your skin, causing dehydration. Toners containing SD Alcohol 40 also can rob the skin of water causing dead skin buildup and forcing your moisturizer to merely return your skin’s “moisture level” to zero instead of enhancing it. One of her biggest mantras, aside from sunscreen, is “instead of over-moisturizing, increase exfoliation.” This is a scary one to follow but trust me because I used to be in your camp – it works. Here’s the skinny – “if your skin is dry, tight, and flakey it means that you have dry skin cell build up on the surface of the skin.” You can’t save that skin because it’s dead! Mourn, move on, and get rid of it! You have gorgeous skin just itching, sometimes literally, to get out!! Renee’s Mint Buffing Beads use gentle micro beadlets so you can use them 2-3 times per week without aggravating your skin. Grab her products at www.reneerouleau.com

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Studies have proven that your skin calls out the repair crew at night and you need to be equipped with the proper tools. For dehydrated skin, Chantecaille’s Jasmine and Lily Mask heals and nourishes skin to revive dull and tired complexions. Jasmine stimulates cell turnover while lily heals and whitens. You just wait five minutes, rinse, then you’re ready for your close up. You can find Chantecaille at www.neimanmarcus.com or drop by your neighborhood Neiman Marcus.

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Boscia’s Recharging Night Moisture contains a concentration of Asian botanicals that strengthen the skin and diminish the appearance of wrinkles. Phytoglycogen does roof repair to damaged cells while Hydrolyzed Yeast speeds up new cell production. Pick them up at www.boscia.net

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To take care of your little bod, grab DermaNew’s Total Body Experience Kit. Among the many goodies in the bag it contains the Accelerated Formula of the Microdermabrasion Cream. This stuff is more intense than the facial formula. So you can use it on your body with the Dual Speed Firming/Resurfacing Tool. Their Total Body Moisture Renewal is an intensive moisturizer for the hands, feet, and body with aloe, meadowfoam, and licorice root which reduces discoloration and age spots – bonus!! www.dermanew.com

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Your lovely hair needs some attention too and switching to a sulfate free shampoo (sulfates are a detergent that makes all those suds and can cause all those flakes) will make a difference. So will using cooler water, but let’s not go crazy now. I LOVE Hamadi’s Ginger Soymilk Hair Wash. The ginger stimulates circulation while the soymilk conditions and seals in moisture. Their Shea Butter Hair Mask is a lifesaver for dry ends with its silky avocado oil and hydrating aloe vera. Your hair will be happy. www.sephora.com or go to your nearest Sephora shop.

For makeup I would switch to a tinted moisturizer. I like Paula Dorf for more coverage and Hard Candy for less (www.sephora.com for both). Cream blushes can also feel better on your cheeks, or try a powder blush from a mineral based line, like La Bella Donna or Bare Escentuals (www.labelladonna.com and www.sephora.com). Since mineral lines don’t contain talc, their products shouldn’t be drying to your skin. For lips try a tinted lip balm like the Lip Shimmers from Burt’s Bees, www.burtsbees.com or Lip Lube from Urban Decay, www.urbandecay.com. Burt’s is a beeswax base while Urban’s has shea butter and mango – both give a nice tingle and have a range of colors.

For your insides hydration is key; if your throat is feeling dry then hie thee hence to Whole Foods and pick up a box of Traditional Medicine’s Throat Coat Tea. It contains licorice root and marshmallow that soothes, and thousands of singers can’t be wrong. Downing a shot of olive oil also feels lovely, tastes better than gargling salt water, and you’ve probably got a bottle lying around. You just need to keep your, pardon me here, mucous membranes happy and moist so they don’t revolt and exit the building. You know what I’m saying.

Hopefully some of this will help keep you soft and comfy this winter and let you focus on the fun parts of the season. You’ll be wishing for cold weather soon enough so enjoy it while you can!

Originally published January 2005
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