Enjoy the weather with ‘wintercare’ tips from our dermatologists

“Why does it hurt when you smile?”

Sounds like a cheesy 70s song, but it’s a question that comes up this time of the year. That nip and crackle in the air ends up hurting your skin. But hey, winter’s the time for a warm mug and a warm hug… and your skin could do with some TLC too.

Fact is, winter is everyone’s favourite season in our part of the world. Cooped up indoors for long, dreary months on end, we finally emerge from air-conditioned confinement to enjoy the great outdoors. Like migratory birds that wing it across continents to enjoy our bracing winter weather, we head out en masse. Beaches beckon. Campfires call. And skin sighs with acceptance, leaving you with worries: Will my skin go dry and lose its lustrous radiance?

Worry not. Winter isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, as far as your skin goes. Here are some care tips from our formidable pool of dermatologists. They’ve taken on the mission of protecting your skin from the elements. Take heed, and the suppleness will never leave your skin in the cold.

  1. Start the day with a short warm bath. Don’t take too long in there. While a long, steamy shower may be tempting, remember that it only aggravates the drying process. Repeated exposure to both, water and cleansers can dry your skin in a hurry. Adding some baby oil to your bath water will deeply moisturize and soften your skin for longer hours and can be used for treatment of several skin diseases as eczema and psoriasis. You should repeat the oil bath once or twice per week.
  2. After you’ve hit the shower, moisturize your skin. A day cream, with ingredients such as zinc oxide, and which provides SPF30 protection, is an effective barrier against the cold. Of course, your skin needs regular hydration but water-based creams and sunscreens won’t help. We strongly recommend arming yourself with a heavier oil-based moisturizer and sunscreen as you step out. Yes, it’s perfect even for those with oily skin. You can wash it off and replace it with a water-based moisturizer once you are home. Sunscreens that also work as a moisturizer are best during the dry season.
  3. Intense moisturizers help maintain the suppleness of the skin, and can be left overnight. Hyaluronic acid (HA) moisturizers are the best and most recent technology in skin care. It hydrates and plumps dry and aging skin. It is very similar to our own HA in which collagen and elastin are embedded in.
  4. Reapplication of emollients, preferably on moist skin, helps in absorption, especially the exposed parts as face, hands and feet as the skin is exposed to cold air drafts and frequent washing.
  5. Avoid alcohol and acetone-based products such as toners, astringents, and make-up removers. These have a monstrously dehydrating effect. Try to use milder non-irritating, soothing cleansers
  6. In case, you suffer from wretchedly dry, cracked hands and feet, buy inexpensive moisturizing gloves and socks, and layer your skin with generous amounts of lotion through the night. If you have dark, thick, cracked skin over yourelbows, knees, soles or ankles, it is recommended to use mild fruit acid peeling creams to reduce the dead cell build-up alternating with an oil-based ointments. Professional fruit acid peeling sessions under a dermatologist supervision at a specialized clinic may be recommended in resistant cases to attain a softer, brighter and lighter skin.
  7. To ensure your lips remain beautiful all through winter, apply a lip balm that acts as a protective barrier. Ensure it’s got vitamin E, which provides some amount of elasticity. Chapped, cut and dry lips are so passé. And yes, they do hurt when you smile.
  8. Notice how dry skin gets all flaky? Just tells you that skin exfoliation is absolutely imperative, twice a week. It removes dead cells and allows the skin to absorb moisture. If you notice prolonged redness with the dryness, you should seek medical advice as it might end up with dark areas which are difficult to be treated or uneven skin tone.
  9. Why look a year older every winter? Take this piece of advice. During summer, most of us complain of oily skin, but during the dry months our skin feels just like the season. It loses water, which must be retained at least in the lower dermis. This skin dehydration is one of the causes of premature aging and fine lines (which really aren’t fine at all!). It also begins to grey and get puffy. To fight these effects use lactic peels, which are able to retain moisture, and re-hydrating masks. So you look as beautiful as the winter.
  10. Dryness affects the scalp and hair. Regular conditioning is imperative.
  11. Don’t forget the environment. Get an effective humidifier and use the air-conditioner as little as possible. The drier the air gets, the harder it is on your skin.
  12. You may rarely feel thirsty like you would in summer. However, one thing that doesn’t change with the weather is the amount of water you should drink. Keep your body hydrated from within and eat the right kind of food. You’ll be surprised at how your diet can impact your skin. Eat lots of fresh fruits such as melons (high water content and seriously low-cal), and labaan.
  13. Considering your skin is touched by the clothes you wear, every second of every day, it’s not surprising that they too can change the way your skin feels. Wear a sweater to keep warm but ensure there is a thin layer of cotton between it and your skin. As far as your feet are concerned, wear only cotton and micro-fiber socks.

“Our skin needs tender loving care during winter,” sums up Dr.Mohamed Gharib, Dermatologist, Kaya Skin Care Clinic. “There’s not a soul who doesn’t love winter in this part of the world, but we have to remember that the frost in the air isn’t always kind to our skin. The low humidity dehydrates the skin, which is why it’s important to follow the steps mentioned above. It safeguards against moisture loss, and ensures a blushing radiance all through the season.”

Dr.Mohamed Gharib adds, “Dry skin is synonymous with winter, and when skin dehydration becomes excessive, it leads to the itch-scratch-eczema cycle. For those who have combination skin which is confusing, partly oily (T-zone) and partly dry, it is recommended to use a mild cleanser dor the whole face and moisturize the whole face except the T-zone or use oil free moisturizer for the whole face to avoid dryness and darkness around the mouth which is the most sensitive area of the face. Winter might be welcoming for those who have very oily skin, but they too have to take care.”

One last thing. Winter isn’t going to be around for long. Make the most of it while it lasts. Head down to the Clinic, get all fabulously fortified and stay that way right through the season. And hey, that smile looks great on you!

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