Spring Cleaning: How to Pamper Your Skin
As the days get longer and temperatures begin to climb, off go the sweaters and boots and on go the shorts and sandals.
But while your spirit may be singing the praises of spring, it's also likely your skin is still crying out with the winter blues -- dry, scaly, rough, spots on heels, knees, and elbows as well as stressed- out, overheated, undernourished skin on your face and body.
"Nothing is worse for skin than a long, cold winter -- the low humidity in conjunction with hot air, heat, and less fresh air often can leave your skin looking dull, dry, rough, and even wrinkled and older," says Cheryl Citron, MD, the past president of the New Jersey Dermatology Society.
Knees, elbows, heels, and toes can also suffer from a winter in boots -- where too often, says Citron, what we don't see, we neglect.
"When our feet and legs aren't on display the way they are during warmer weather, we tend not to moisturize as much, and we don't pay as much attention to things like dry cuticles; unfortunately, it doesn't take long for skin that is neglected to react, becoming dry, dull, and flaky, and sometimes even red and inflamed," Citron tells WebMD.
The good news: Beautiful, summer-sweet skin is closer than the nearest watermelon patch! The best place to start, say experts, is with a head-to-toe moisture treatment -- and you don't need high-priced products to do the job right.
"One of the best moisturizers you can use is white petroleum jelly -- particularly on the very roughest, toughest areas of skin, such as heels, elbows, and knees," says Heidi Waldorf, MD, director of dermatologic laser surgery at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City. And if you've ever heard that old wives' tale about drenching feet in Vaseline and then donning a pair of white cotton socks -- well, Waldorf says it's not a myth and it really can dramatically change the way your feet look and feel, almost overnight.
"If you don't like sleeping in socks, then just smear on the petroleum jelly right before you put on your gym socks and sneakers before working out, or even just to run errands," she says. If hands are in equal need of a spring makeover, coat them with petroleum jelly as well, and then don a pair of white cotton gloves.