Winter, with its cold air and drying heat, can be tough on your skin. And no matter where you live, there are certain basic skin-care things you need to do:
- Moisturize often.
- Take shorter, warm (not hot) showers and baths.
- Keep the humidity level up indoors.
But winter in chilly New England is different than winter in California or the Pacific Northwest. Dermatologists from seven U.S. regions share their best skin-care tips so you can baby your skin in whatever state you find yourself settled in for the winter.
Winter Skin Care: East Coast
Dermatologist Robert Greenberg, MD, says wintry temperatures on the East Coast can mean the humidity dips indoors when the heat is turned on and stays on. "The air is very dry and we lose water from our skin to the dry air," he says. Some people use wood stoves for heat, and that dries the indoor air even more.
Greenberg says he’s had to dissuade his patients from shaking off the chill with a hot shower when they scramble from bed. "A long, hot shower in the morning is not a good idea," he says. It's too drying.
Greenberg tells residents to avoid harsh soaps, use gentle moisturizers, and mild laundry soaps to prevent skin irritation, especially when it gets drier as the winter goes on. He also says to humidify the indoor air as much as possible.
Winter sports such as snowmobiling can take an extra toll on the skin, especially if it's windy. Sports-loving people should apply moisturizer and protect their facial skin and other exposed areas when active.
Winter Skin Care: Southeast
"In the Southeast, we can experience extreme shifts in temperature on a daily basis," dermatologist Andrea Cambio, MD, says. ”It is not uncommon for it to go from the 50s to the 90s in the same day. Added to the equation are very strong ultraviolet rays from the sun."
In addition to the typical winter skin care advice -- shorter, warm showers, use of a gentle fragrance-free cleanser, and use of moisturizer -- she stresses sun protection year round. Sunscreen, protective clothing, and hats are a must. Her advice is especially important for visitors who may be so thrilled to be warm that they forget about sun protection.
Winter Skin Care: South
The Southern states may be the kindest on the skin during winter. "Southern winters are kind of benign," University of Alabama dermatologic surgeon Conway C. Huang, MD, says.
The air in the south doesn't get as dry as in other regions, he says, and humidity remains relatively high.
For winter skin care, Huang suggests using a cream moisturizer -- not a watery lotion -- and keeping showers and baths at a warm temperature, not hot. "Use a gentle soap, or no soap," he says.