Have you ever noticed that your skin appears and feels dry during winter months? Dry skin seems to be about as natural a part of winter as cold weather and bundling up. Have you always wondered why this happens? Is it a natural part of winter? Is it something you can avoid? Nobody likes dealing with the hassle of dry, itchy, or cracked skin, so any way to prevent this from happening would certainly be welcome. Learning why this happens is the first step to preventing it from happening.
Why Does Skin Dry Out?
Your skin is a remarkably complex organ which protects and sustains your body. Skin naturally lubricates itself with water to keep cells on all levels alive and thriving, but these cells depend on natural oils to prevent needed moisture from escaping through evaporation. When there isn’t enough oil in the outermost layers of your skin, the moisture evaporates and you’re left with a crusty, dry, and uncomfortable outer skin layer.
Generally, when the humidity outside is already somewhat high (like during spring and summer months), the water in your skin doesn’t evaporate nearly as quickly and you don’t see nearly the same dryness problems. However, during fall and winter when humidity naturally lessens and temperatures become cold, the effect intensifies. Thus, fall and winter cause dry skin almost naturally. As you age, this effect also intensifies, as your body gradually loses the ability to keep skin cells properly lubricated and healthy.
Unnatural Causes of Dry Skin
What you may not realize is that we do a number of things in our day to day life which also dry out our skin. Perhaps the largest and most common reason for dry skin: overuse of hot water. Whereas cold water doesn’t mix well with the oils in our skin, hot water can actually wash those oils away, leaving us with exposed skin that’s prone to losing moisture. When you combine this effect with the use of harsh chemicals, including some bodywashes and soaps, you get a perfect storm where your daily shower in the morning could actually be causing harm to your skin.
During winter, we tend to enjoy our hot showers even more than we would throughout the rest of the year. The steaming, warm water is a great way to wake up in the morning, especially if you wake up to a home that’s somewhat cold. Thus, we tend to take a few extra minutes to enjoy the warm water before toweling off, much to the detriment of our skin’s health.
How to Keep Your Skin Healthy This Winter
Keeping your skin healthier and more vibrant this winter is easier than you may have ever thought possible. By making just a few changes to your lifestyle and how you do things you’ll enjoy clearer, healthier, and more enjoyable skin all year long.
- Turn Down the Hot Water: Turn the temperature down on your water heater thermostat by about five degrees and you’ll see a pretty big jump in your skin’s health. Likewise, reduce your shower times to 10 minutes or less and use warm water rather than hot. Your skin will appreciate it, and you likely won’t notice a huge change in how much you enjoy your showers.
- Use less soap: Using soap or hand sanitizers too often actually removes the valuable oils from your hands and skin, which leads to cracked and unhealthy feeling skin. Don’t hesitate to use soap to keep yourself clean, but avoid excessive washing or using harsh chemicals, such as soaps or sanitizers which are high in alcohol as they remove a ton of oil.
- Use moisturizers: Lotions are great because they restore some of the valuable oils your skin needs as well as provides extra protective layers for keeping moisture in your cells. Baby oil, mineral oil, or bath oil are great at keeping your skin healthy without the greasy feeling that comes from ointment moisturizers.
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