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Winter Skin Care: 6 Tips for Dry, Chapped Skin

WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Summer fun gives way to wintry winds and before you realize it you've got dry skin - chapped lips, itchy elbows, or a T-zone crying out for help!

Have no fear, these simple winter skin care tips can help you prevent - and treat - dry, chapped skin. And keep you smiling, all season long.

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Winter Skin Care Tip 1: Shorten Those Showers

Long, steamy showers may soothe a weekend warrior's sore muscles, but they're also good at dehydrating you - yes, taking moisture out instead of putting it in. That's because hot water removes the skin's natural oils more quickly than warm or cold water.

The skin care solution? Take shorter showers and baths and use warm water instead of steamy hot. Then, when you're done, pat dry, don't rub.

Winter Skin Care Tip 2: Mild Soaps

Your favorite antibacterial or deodorant soap may be doing you more harm than good, stripping your skin of essential oils. That's why skin care pros recommend sticking with mild soaps, preferably unscented or lightly scented.

You may want to go mild with your laundry detergent, too. Designed to remove dirt and oils, residue just may irritate sensitive, chapped skin.

Winter Skin Care Tip 3: Moisturize

A great way to soothe or prevent chapped skin: moisturize. And you don't need expensive elixirs from the cosmetics counter to keep skin dewy.

Petroleum jelly, mineral oil, even hair conditioner can help you trap in moisture as you step from the shower or bath. If your skin is oily you still need to moisturize -- just look for noncomedogenic products, which won't clog your pores. And remember to drink up -- moisturizing from the inside out.

Winter Skin Care Tip 4: Get Sharp About Shaving

Shaving can leave your skin extra irritated, especially when it's already dry. So get sharp about shaving by:

  • Use a lubricant when you shave, such as shaving cream.
  • Change the blades in your shaver often.
  • Shave in the direction that hair grows.

Winter Skin Care Tip 5: Slather on Sunscreen

Up to 80% of the sun's rays can penetrate light clouds, snow, and fog. Over time that exposure can lead to moles, wrinkles, and skin cancers.

So protect your skin: Even on cloudy or overcast days slap on that sunscreen. Reach for a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, with UVA and UVB protection. And don't forget to reapply often.

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