Winter Skincare Tips, From Head to Toe
Get soft skin in winter
"The air is frigid and dry outside, and any kind of indoor heat leaves it even more parched. Your skin's protective barrier cracks, making it less able to repair itself," says San Francisco dermatologist Katie Rodan, MD. "It becomes a vicious cycle unless you do something to prevent it—or treat it fast."
Here, just in time: a guide to protecting your most moisture-starved parts so you can stay soft and smooth all season long.
Smooth as you soothe
Extra-dry skin like on dry upper arms can trigger a flare-up of keratosis pilaris, that annoying rough skin, says New York dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD.
"Try a lotion with salicylic acid to exfoliate dead cells around your hair follicles and reduce the appearance of bumps." We like CeraVe Renewing SA Cream ($23; mass retailers).
Handle with care
"They're less drying than washing repeatedly with soap and water," Dr. Rodan says. "It's the wet-dry, wet-dry that really sucks the moisture out of your skin."
When you do wash, choose a moisturizing soap-free cleanser or a hydrating antibacterial gel, then slather on lotion right away.
"Even wearing them for an hour can really soften up your skin," says Miami dermatologist Alicia Barba, MD. Start with Vaseline Intensive Rescue Healing Hand Cream ($4; mass retailers).
Just add honey
"This can be especially helpful in winter when blood flow is typically diverted from the skin to keep your core warm."
"Cleopatra used to bathe in milk because of the lactic acid," Dr. Barba notes. "It's an incredibly effective moisturizer, and it also works as a powerful exfoliant, so those scales go away."
We like C. Booth Original Bath & Body Oil ($10; Ulta) with a mix of natural oils (olive, sesame, sunflower, evening primrose).
Follow with a generous slathering of lotion once you’ve toweled off.
"It'll brighten your skin, and your moisturizer can penetrate better if you don't have a 50-car pileup of dead cells," Dr. Rodan says.
Pick super-gentle exfoliators when using for chest and back like tiny, rounded polyethylene microbeads.
Also effective: the mineral salt in St. Ives Purify Exfoliating Body Wash ($3; mass retailers).
Treat feet at night
"If you do that religiously for a month, the changes will be magical."
A good bet: the heel-hugging Sephora Collection Pedicurve ($13; sephora.com), and Sally Hansen Moisturizing Foot Creme ($7; mass retailers) with lavender oil.
Keep showers short
"If you like warmer showersand who doesn't?keep them to no more than 10 minutes, and not more than once a day."
Pick the right PJs
Avoid blends of cotton and synthetic fibers, which might be irritating.