Winter is here & we all know how the season can wreak havoc with our skin. Here are a few cold-weather do’s and don’ts & expert tips for flake-free skin…
Itchy, tight, flaky skin that’s about as supple as a month-old rice cake can affect more than your appearance — severely dry skin can also be painful. But even if you have the best treatment intentions, you might inadvertently be sabotaging your complexion.
What are the most common mistakes people make when treating dry skin, and what are the smartest solutions? We asked experts to weigh in.
Mistake #1: Confusing dehydrated skin with dry skin.
“The most common mistake people make is thinking that their skin is dry when it’s really dehydrated. Dry skin is actually very rare,” says celebrity esthetician Joanna Czech, who works on numerous A-list faces. How can you tell the difference? “Dry skin has very tiny pores and is rather tight. Dehydrated skin lacks luster and shine, and can be flaky.”
Smart Solution: Start a smart moisturizing strategy. Apply a rich moisturizer twice a day. In the morning, it’s essential to nourish your skin to replace the water you’ve lost overnight, and in the evening, it locks in moisture after you wash your face — which helps repair your skin while you sleep. Likewise, whether you’re dry or oily, you want to avoid sun damage at all costs, so apply sunscreen daily
You also need to target delicate areas like the eyes and lips that tend to lack moisture and develop fine lines, Czech says. A gentle yet hydrating eye cream can make lines less prevalent, and lip balm will replace moisture. Look for ingredients such as shea butter and sweet almond oil.
Mistake #2: Exfoliating aggressively.
Those with dry skin may turn to exfoliation to clear away flakes, but that’s not the best tactic. “A common mistake that people make is to try to scrub off the flakes because their skin looks dull and flaky,” says Jessica Wu, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Southern California Medical School and a dermatologist in Los Angeles. “This can lead to irritation. Over-scrubbing can actually make skin more inflamed and cause it to produce even more skin to repair itself.” Peels and harsh cleansers can have the same results.
Smart Solution: Treat your skin to TLC. Although you might be tempted to wash with a face scrub every time you’re in the shower, using a gentle scrub once a week will do the trick. “Everything in moderation,” Czech advises. Avoid gel cleansers and foaming products with sulfates; they can contain harsh detergents that strip your skin of much-needed moisture.
** To begin your day, Dr. Wu says, a little water will get the job done. Your skin usually doesn’t get dirty enough when you sleep to warrant a morning cleansing (assuming that you’ve removed your makeup the night before.
Mistake #3: Using products that are too rich or heavy for your skin.
Lang, a celebrity esthetician and owner of Wei Lang Spa in New York, says that most dry-skin sufferers use the wrong products: “People who have dehydrated or dry skin often use creams that are extremely rich and heavy. The molecules of these products are rather large, and it’s hard for them to penetrate properly — meaning the product just sits on the skin and can’t really do any good.
Smart Solution: Look for targeted treatments rather than heavy balms. “A good serum has smaller molecules that allow it to penetrate and add much-needed moisture ahead of your moisturizer, locking it in and creating a good layer of hydration,” Lang says.
** Dr. Wu also suggests looking for ingredients like licorice and soy extracts; these act as anti-inflammatories and can reduce skin redness and irritation. She also recommends products that contain hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, which increase hydration and reduce itching and tightness.