You’ve read my post on caring for your facial skin in winter, but let’s not neglect your body skin! Here are some helpful suggestions for combating winter dry-out!
Don’t Over Cleanse
Did you know that you do not need to use cleanser on your entire body every single time you shower? In all reality, unless you are getting completely sweaty at the gym or are getting covered in sand and dirt (which, in all likelihood you aren’t in the winter months!), you only need to cleanse your skin in what I call the “odoriferous areas”. Feet, underarms, and private parts. That’s it!
Don’t Over-Heat & Don’t Take too Long!
I am the first to admit, there is NOTHING that warms up my body on a cold winter morning than a long, steaming hot shower. BUT- having a shower that is too warm and spending more than 5 minutes in can dry out the skin! Remember, it’s extremes in temperature that compromise the skin’s barrier layer and can cause TEWL (Trans Epidermal Water Loss). A lukewarm bath or shower is the best temperature for the skin. If you get cold easily I recommend making sure your bathroom is at 74 degrees and that you keep the door closed to seal in the heat while you are showering and moisturizing.
Don’t Use Soap
This is a big one! In order to maintain proper barrier function of the skin, the skin’s surface should maintain a pH of 5.5 (slightly acidic). The skin is our body’s first defense against the outside world. The pH level is important because it helps to fend off microbes and organisms that cannot survive in an acidic environment. Proper barrier function also ensures that moisture remains in the skin. Soap is very alkaline (an estimated pH of between 7 and 10!), and that means that the molecular bonds of soap are ionic. Ionic bonds are formed from two opposite ions attract each other. Most ionic bonds have a high melting point and they are solid at room temperature. Which means that when a compound comprised of ionic bonds such as soap is on your skin, it doesn’t break down. It coats the surface of the skin and creates a film. (This is why you see soap scum on your shower tiles after a while!) It doesn’t sound good does it? It’s not! Soap also dissolves oil. You don’t want to over-strip the skin of precious oil, which keeps the skin hydrated when exposed to extremes in temperature.
Then what should I use to cleanse my skin in the shower??
Most often, water is enough! For the feet, underarms and private parts, I recommend using a very gentle cleanser. One of my all-time favorites that I use on my children is Trixera Nutri-Fluid Cleanser by Avene. It is a gentle, soap free formulation.
Moisturize While Skin is Still Damp
When you step out of the shower, pat the skin lightly dry with a soft towel but leave it a little bit damp. Applying moisturizer within 3 minutes of showering helps the skin to lock in moisture. Now apply your body moisturizer. I recommend a cream or an oil. (A cream is an oil-in-water solution as opposed to a lotion which is a water-in-oil solution.) Body oils are a wonderful solution to help lock in moisture and reduce itchiness and flakiness. A few of my favorites are Osea Anti-Aging Body Balm, Osea’s Undaria Algae Oil (you can actually combine the two and it’s fab!), Olive + M’s Shimmering Body Oil (it smells SO great!) and also Kiehl’s Crème de Corps Body Lotion.
I have rough patches on my elbows and knees. Should I exfoliate?
Yes! But do not use a harsh scrub- this will actually make this rough and discolored skin worse! I actually have a little secret trick for this! PFB Vanish with Chromabright. It is designed for post shaving/waxing skin because it contains a mild glycolic acid exfoliant as well as safe brightening agents that help to lighten the skin over time. You can roll this on elbows and knees with rough darkened patches daily until the skin becomes soft, supple, and no longer discolored! (Safe for all skin regardless of pigmentation level-just not if you are pregnant or breastfeeding!)
Lastly, stay hydrated!
Proper hydration is very important to keep skin’s moisture level balanced. Make sure you drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water per day, and limited dehydrating beverages like alcohol and coffee. A warm cup of herbal or green tea is a great way to stay warm AND hydrated during the winter season! If you feel you need a little extra boost, sleeping with a humidifier in your room will do wonders for your skin, especially if you tend to wake up with very dry lips in the morning!