Expert Tips From Dr. Caroline Chang To Protect & Improve Your Skin This Winter

As the air gets cooler and winter approaches, I love introducing my kids to winter activities. My favorite activities are ice skating at the Alex and Ani City Center and exploring the local mountains for skiing and sledding. And theres nothing like curling up by the fireplace with my family at the end of a fun winter day. For New Years Eve, I really enjoyed dinner and dancing at The Dorrance last year. For a more low key way to celebrate, I like to have an intimate dinner at a restaurant like Salted Slate. This year, were planning a kid-friendly (read: early) New Years celebration with friends.

With winter upon us, it's really important to change your skincare routine early. The key to maintaining good skincare in the winter is to focus on moisturizing and protecting the skin from the dry winter air. 

MOISTURIZE: First and foremost, you should add moisture to the skin.  Switch from lotion to cream or ointment, which are thicker and contain moisturizing oils. A good skin cream will come in a tub or a tube, not a pump, because they are usually too thick to flow through a pump. My favorite choices are Aveeno Skin Relief Moisture Repair CreamLa Roche Posay Lipikar BaumeEucerin Eczema Relief Body Creme, and Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream. For those with dry hands, keep a tube of hand cream by each sink in your house and moisturize after every hand washing. If youre feeling extra motivated, leave a tube of hand cream on your desk at work and in the car for spur of the moment moisturizing. I love Aveeno Skin Relief Healing Ointment because it has 50% petrolatum which means it doesn’t leave a super greasy residue.

PROTECT: Next, protect the skin from drying out. While the cold weather makes us want to take super hot and long showers, the hot water in the shower causes the skin to dry out by releasing the reserved oils in the skin. Instead, opt for short showers with lukewarm water. In addition, fight dryness from the outside by running a humidifier in the house or in your bedroom at night. The added moisture will help seal in skin moisture and prevent further dryness.

AVOID: The most common winter skin mistake is waiting until your skin cracks before giving it attention! Fissures, or deep splits in the skin, take a long time to heal and tend to split over and over again.  Once your skin gets to this point, it will require a very intensive and daily routine of aggressive moisturization to resolve the problem. I often recommend nightly use of white petrolatum (such as Vaseline Petroleum Jelly) under a cotton sock or glove until the skin heals.  The best thing to do is to start moisturization efforts early.  

CALL YOUR DOCTOR: Finally, if you've tried everything and your skin is still dry, red, cracked or itchy, you could have a medical condition such as eczema, psoriasis, contact dermatitis or even skin cancer. Get checked by a dermatologist to make sure you are on the right track.


More About Dr. Caroline Chang

Dr. Caroline Chang is a Board Certified Medical and Cosmetic Dermatologist in East Greenwich, RI and author of The Dermafiles skincare blog. She specializes in skin cancer screenings and melanoma. She also performs a wide range of cosmetic procedures, including newer ones such as Kybella(R), Juvederm(R) Voluma XC, Restylane(R) Silk, and CO2 laser resurfacing.  



Photo Credits: Pics of Alex & Ani Center and The Dorrance are from their web sites. Salted Slate pic is from the PattyJDotCom Instagram. Thumbnail 'winter' pic is courtesy of Getty Images. All other pics courtesy of Dr. Caroline Chang.