Simple Steps for Healthy Skin and Hair
You don’t need a meteorologist to tell you that this winter has created a beauty SOS! Record snowstorms and punishing winds, combined with dry indoor heating, are leaving your hair static-y and dull, and your skin rough, dry and peeling.
What kept your tresses lustrous in summer and your skin dewy in July doesn’t work in February and March. Here’s how to tweak your beauty regimen so you can achieve healthy skin and healthy hair during the frosty season.
1. Hydrate every time you shampoo.
Switch to moisturizing shampoos and conditioners, and skip at least one day between shampoos so you don’t deplete your scalp of the natural oils it’s able to retain. To fight flat tresses, apply conditioner only from mid-shaft to your ends. Your roots are just a few weeks old and still getting nourished form your scalp’s sebum, so keep them lifted by skipping the added weight of conditioner.
2. Protect against heat damage.
Parched locks are especially vulnerable to the damage caused by hot styling tools. Letting your hair air-dry in the winter is unrealistic, and walking out in near-zero temperatures with a wet head will cause your strands to freeze and lead to damaged hair.
Instead, partially dry your hair by blotting it with a microfiber towel. Then, apply a heat-protecting hair care product before firing up the hair-blower. Or, eliminate blow-drying by shampooing at bedtime, suggests Natasha Sunshine, owner-stylist of the Byu-ti Hair Therapy Salon. In the morning, style your hair with a flat iron or curling iron. Use the lowest heat seating that will still allow you to achieve the styling results you want, and keep the hot tool moving to avoid scorching your strands.
3. Warm up your hair color.
Hair color that worked beautifully against summer’s bronzed skin can look ashy with winter’s paler complexion. Add warmth to your palette by taking blond hair from beige to golden, brunette tresses to chestnut, or chocolate-brown and red hair to copper or auburn.
1. Modify your skin care routine.
Your summer skin challenge is most likely controlling oil, while during winter, it’s combating dryness. Replace your exfoliating or sudsing cleanser with a milder, non-sudsing one. Ease up on your use of retinoids; switch to a less-concentrated formula or use them only every other night. Moisturize twice a day, in the morning and at night. Consider switching from a light formula, such as a gel-based moisturizer, to a slightly thicker one. Or, boost the potency of the year-round moisturizer you love by layering a serum underneath.
2. Choose the right soaps and moisturizers.
Long, hot showers or baths can feel great on a bone-chilling day, but they’re extremely drying. “The intense heat actually breaks down the lipid barriers in the skin, which leads to a loss of moisture and dehydrates the skin,” says Naomi Donnelley, a dermatologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “Keep showers and baths short and lukewarm.” Use a soap-free body wash instead of a harsh antibacterial soap. Apply a body moisturizer while still slightly damp for smooth skin. “In general, lotions don’t cut it in winter,” says Donnelley. “Choose a cream, or if your skin is very dry, a petroleum-based product. Some ingredients to look for include ceramides, dimethicone, urea, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, petrolatum and lanolin.”
3. Invest in a humidifier.
If you experience itching or flaking, consider a home humidifier. The extra moisture it pumps into the air not only soothes chapped lips and hands and relieves all-over dry skin, but also helps nourish midwinter’s straw-like damaged hair. Just be sure to clean your humidifier regularly to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria.
Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com/piskunov
Shelley Levitt, managing editor of The Style Glossy, is a former West Coast editor of SELF magazine and senior writer at People.