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10 Winter Skin Care Tips

The weather outside may be unsightly, but your skin doesn't have to be. How to banish dry skin and give your winter skin care regimen a boost.

4. Give Your Hands a Hand

The skin on your hands is thinner than on most parts of the body and has fewer oil glands. That means it's harder to keep your hands moist, especially in cold, dry weather. This can lead to itchiness and cracking. Wear gloves when you go outside; if you need to wear wool to keep your hands warm, slip on a thin cotton glove first, to avoid any irritation the wool might cause.

5. Avoid Wet Gloves and Socks

Wet socks and gloves can irritate your skin and cause itching, cracking, sores, or even a flare-up of eczema.

6. Hook Up the Humidifier

Central heating systems (as well as space heaters) blast hot dry air throughout our homes and offices. Humidifiers get more moisture in the air, which helps prevent your skin from drying out. Place several small humidifiers throughout your home; they help disperse the moisture more evenly.

7. Hydrate for Your Health, Not for Your Skin

If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: Drinking water helps your skin stay young looking. In fact, it's a myth. Water is good for your overall health and "the skin of someone who is severely dehydrated will benefit from fluids. But the average person's skin does not reflect the amount of water being drunk," Kenneth Bielinski, MD, a dermatologist in Oak Lawn, Ill., tells WebMD "It's a very common misconception."

LaPlante agrees. "I see clients at the spa who drink their 10 to 12 glasses of water a day and still have superdry skin. It just doesn't do that much."

8. Grease Up Your Feet

Yes, those minty foot lotions are lovely in the hot summer months, but during the winter, your feet need stronger stuff. Try finding lotions that contain petroleum jelly or glycerine instead. And use exfoliants to get the dead skin off periodically; that helps any moisturizers you use to sink in faster and deeper.

9. Pace the Peels

If your facial skin is uncomfortably dry, avoid using harsh peels, masks, and alcohol-based toners or astringents, all of which can strip vital oil from your skin. Instead, find a cleansing milk or mild foaming cleanser, a toner with no alcohol, and masks that are "deeply hydrating," rather than clay-based, which tends to draw moisture out of the face. And use them a little less often.

10. Ban Superhot Baths

Sure, soaking in a burning-hot bath feels great after frolicking out in the cold. But the intense heat of a hot shower or bath actually breaks down the lipid barriers in the skin, which can lead to a loss of moisture. "You're better off with just warm water," LaPlante advises, "and staying in the water a shorter amount of time."

A lukewarm bath with oatmeal or baking soda, can help relieve skin that is so dry it has become itchy, Bielinski notes. So, too, can periodically reapplying your moisturizer. If those techniques don't work, go see a dermatologist. "You may need a prescription lotion to combat the dry skin," Bielinski says. "Or you may have a condition that isn't simply dry skin and that requires different treatment."

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