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Top Tips For Soothing Chapped Wintertime Skin

Learn how to alleviate dry, wintertime skin.

It doesn't matter how much lotion I lather on. From November through April, my hands looks a lot like Heath Ledger's face in The Dark Knight: a dry, cracked, splotchy mess. Desperate to learn how to keep my skin sufficiently hydrated during the winter months, I turned to Annet King, Director of Training and Education at Dermalogica, for help.

In order to solve the problem, it's important to first understand why our skin becomes so chapped and flaky during the chilly months. According to King, the low humidity and cold temps create gaps between the cells in the epidermis, which leads to the evaporation of moisture. Irritants can seep in, which causes skin to become sensitive and flaky - especially in areas that get more friction than others, like the sides of the nose due to tissue use. Because the hands are always exposed and are constantly being washed, they tend to get the most chapped. And the lotions and heavier winter clothing that we all layer on in the winter can trap dead cells, instigating breakouts and the appearance of dull skin.

King recommends the following steps to soothe parched skin, and maintain a healthy looking radiance:

For the hands and body:

- If you get manicures, ask for a paraffin dip at your next appointment. Paraffin dips soften skin and lock in moisture.
- Moisturize your skin while you sleep! Wear 100% cotton gloves to bed over an emollient cream. The gloves will aid in the absorption of the hand cream.
- Avoid nylons, wool sweaters and dry central heating systems as these all worsen dry skin, and may exacerbate eczema.
- Use tepid water instead of hot, and pat skin dry - never rub! Apply body lotion immediately after showering, avoiding those with artificial colors and fragrances.
- Steer clear of bath products with artificial fragrances and high foam, which will further dehydrate the skin. Alternatively, add a few pumps of oil to your bath.
- Slough off dead cells that tend to accumulate more during the winter months by adding mineral salts to the bath for a relaxing and exfoliating soak. Or, if you prefer the shower, use an exfoliating body wash. Massage in gentle circular movements paying special attention to drier areas like the knees, elbows and hands.

For the face:

- Instead of a foaming cleanser, use a soothing and non-drying gel cream.
- Protect and hydrate the face by applying light non-greasy moisturizer. Switch to a heavier weight cream if your skin is dry to very dry.
- Use a moisturizing, vitamin-rich cream masque once per week to heal chapped skin, abrasions around the nose, and to get a healthy, dewy looking glow.
- In severely cold weather, rub hydrating balms on exposed areas like the lips, nose and cheekbones for extra protection and healing.

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