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After spending several years in social services, Nicole has finally followed her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer. In addition to her work for The Hudsucker, Nicole is also a staff writer for Womanista. An avid comic book fan, BBQ aficionado, professional makeup artist and first-time mom, Nicole can be found exploring Kansas City rich history when she's not blogging about suburban life at Suburban Flamingo.

The Pretty Files: Winter Skincare

I was looking at the weather forecast tonight and discovered that much to my near-horror, they are calling for snow and/or ice this week. Snow! Ice! I’ve managed to avoid turning on my furnace for anything more than a cursory knock-the-chill-of-the-morning-off moment, but I strongly suspect that is about to change.  I’m still in a little bit of shock.  Wasn’t it the heat of August just the other day? Indeed time does fly but there are some definite benefits to the weather cooling off. Boots and coats and scarves come out to play, the color palette changes, and Starbucks brings back delicious holiday drinks.  Yum, on all fronts.

There are some other big changes in the fall and winter, too, especially those regarding skincare.  As the weather gets colder it’s a good opportunity to take a look at your skin and evaluate its needs.  As a beauty consultant I regularly tell my clients that you should evaluate your skincare needs at the change of every season, but I feel that it is really the most important as the weather gets colder. There are a number of reasons for this. According to Birthorderplus.com, the first is that as the weather gets colder our indoor environments change.  Heat is a drying agent.  Think about that for a moment in terms of putting food in an oven.  You put a piece of chicken in the oven even on the lowest heat and over time the chicken dries out. While your furnace isn’t an oven cooking you or your workplace heater isn’t trying to bake you, the same drying out concept applies.  This drying out is compounded by the fact that most people drink less water in the winter. In the summer it’s natural to stay hydrated because we are always reaching for a cool beverage, but in the winter we tend to turn towards those aforementioned Starbucks drinks.  Coffee is something of a diuretic which can lead to dehydration.  So we’re indoors staying warm and having tasty coffee drinks.  Another important thing to consider is the outdoor elements.  The days are shorter so there is less bright sunshine, but we also have to deal with colder winds and dryer air outside as well—humidity levels feel different in the winter and fall, especially as the temperatures dip.  Lastly, our basic hygiene habits sometimes change with the weather.  In the summer and warmer temperatures people don’t often soak in hot baths or take really hot showers.  As weather gets cooler that hot bath sounds really nice (or hot shower if you aren’t a bath person.)  Some people even bathe a little less frequently (every other day instead of every day). These factors all impact your skin making how you care for your skin in fall and winter different from  how you care for skin in summer and spring.

Image Credit: beautyfrizz.com

Image Credit: beautyfrizz.com

So how does one manage their skin in change of seasons? The first thing is to make sure you are exfoliating.  Exfoliating is important to every skin type in every season, but it becomes even more so in the winter because when our skin is dryer we want to get the dead, dull skin off so as not to cloud our complexions. For all skin types I suggest a good manual exfoliator, like a scrub.  My all-around favorite is Clinique’s 7 Day Scrub (I promise, I’m not being biased—I’ve used this product for years and it’s on my Trapped on a Deserted Island list) as it works for dry and combination skins without tearing delicate pores. Another good option, particularly for oilier skins, is the Body Shop’s Seaweed Pore-Cleansing Facial Exfoliator. My oilier skinned friends tell me that it helps their skin stay free of dullness and at the same time clear of the shine that plagues oily skin.  Sounds like a win-win to me! The second thing I suggest in the winter is picking the right moisturizer.  I have dry combination skin.  What that means is that everything except my nose is dry normally and in the winter those dry areas go from just a little tight to feeling like they’re five sizes too small. I combat this by adding an intensive moisturizer to my routine, particularly at night because night is when our skin repairs itself. I already use a solid moisturizer for dryer skins in the daytime (I use Lancome’s Absolue for day) but for those colder nights I swap out to Clinique’s Moisture Surge Intense. It’s just a straightforward intense moisture product that doesn’t address aging concerns.  It’s just the miracle hydration my skin needs and I’ve been known to slather it on my elbows and dry legs, too.  It’s sibling, Clinique’s Moisture Surge (the pink one) is a great option for oilier skins as it delivers hydration without containing oil. The last big product change I make in my skincare routine for colder weather is sunscreen. I wear sunscreen year round but I always take extra care in the winter and fall to make sure I am protecting my skin from the rays because it’s the time of year we generally don’t think of as being problematic. It’s winter after all! The truth is, though, that I have had some of the worst sunburns in cooler temperatures simply because I underestimated the sun. To keep my skin safe from harmful rays I turn to Philosophy’s Take a Deep Breath SPF 30.  I love this product because it’s good for all skin types (including my oily nose!) and it is also a stealth-ninja moisturizer. The oil-free oxygen moisturizer is lightweight but helps hydrate my skin.

Those are the big three changes I suggest to everyone as the weather changes to cooler temperatures: exfoliate, add in a solid moisturizer appropriate for your skin, and sunscreen is your friend.  However, there are some non-product suggestions that I also make.  The first?  Adjust your bath temperature.  Hot water is hard on skin and when you combine hot bath water with dry, furnace-heated air you are sucking your skin dry.  Taking your bath temperature down even just a couple of degrees is far more gentle on your skin.  Or, if you absolutely can’t live without a hot bath on a cold day, consider alternating your very warm soaks with more moderate baths.  This is much kinder to your skin.  The second, and probably most important, is to drink more water.  My basic rule of thumb is to balance ounce for ounce water with my warm, happy coffee drinks. If I’m drinking twenty ounces of Eggnog Latte at breakfast I follow it up with twenty ounces of water. Keeping hydrated from within is critical, especially in colder temperatures. Lastly, I suggest to everyone to get more sleep.  This is less a winter-specific tip but more just general advice.  Sleep is when our bodies go into repair mode and its critical to our well-being as well as our skin’s health.  And really, what’s more enjoyable than curling up under warm blankets for a nice long nap when the weather outside is frightful?

Do you have a great colder weather skincare tip or a product you think I should try?  Be sure to leave it in comments!  Until next time, stay pretty (and warm!)

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