The season’s beauty vampires–biting winds, steamy showers, dipping temps, and drying indoor heat–can suck the life right out of your skin and hair. Luckily, we have easy advice for soothing your thirstiest parts, from scalp to soles.
By Jolene Edgar, Women’s Health
Dehydrated skin cells turn over more slowly, causing a buildup of dead skin, which hinders light reflection. Circulation also gets sluggish—and just like that, your glow is gone and fine lines look more pronounced.
Soothing Solution: Bolster your beauty from the inside out by drinking lots of water and loading up on omega-3s (essential fatty acids found in foods such as salmon and walnuts). “Omega-3s boost hydration, so I recommend taking supplements to ensure you get enough,” says Doris Day, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University Langone Medical Center.
Your daily skin regimen should start with a milky or creamy cleanser, which contains fewer stripping surfactants than gel formulas do. Try Naturopathica Sweet Lupine Cleansing Cream, $18, naturopathica.com. Follow with a cream or balm instead of a lotion. “They’re richer andbetter at holding water in the skin,” says Day, who likes those that contain antioxidants (green tea or niacinamide), humectants (hyaluronic acid or glycerin), and emollients (nut butters or oils). Try Episencial Protective Face Balm SPF 6, $7, at drugstores. “These creams insulate the skin, which is key when you’re constantly going between the cold outside and the drying heat indoors,” says Day.
If we were to personify winter worn hair, we’d probably describe it as dull, depressed, and apathetic. Plus, dry -hair side effects such as static cling make it extra hard to manage, says Teca Gillespie, a scientist for Pantene.
Soothing Solution: Conditioner! It should include silicones to lock down the outer cuticle layer and seal in moisture. Equally important are quaternary ammonium compounds (“quats”), which “leave hair soft and silky, and neutralize the static electricity that causes flyaways,” says cosmetics chemist Jim Hammer. Scan the label for quats such as cetrimonium chloride and behentrimonium chloride. Try Dove Intensive Repair Daily Treatment Conditioner, $4.75, at drugstores.
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Dry, Itchy Scalp
White flakes falling from a winter sky: glorious. White flakes falling from a dry scalp: gross. Itching and flakes can be symptoms of both dandruff (a condition caused by a yeastlike fungus) and dry scalp (run-of-the-mill dry skin), says Day.
Soothing Solution: Try a hydrating shampoo and conditioner. If they don’t soothe your scalp after a week, celebrity stylist Kristan Serafino suggests using an intensive-care product, such as Moroccanoil Dry-No-More Professional Scalp Treatment, $45, moroccanoil.com. (Part your hair down the middle and apply the oil to your exposed scalp. Make a new part every half inch and massage the oil in as you go, until your scalp is saturated. Wash after 15 minutes.) If flakes still persist, you have dandruff. Switch to a medicated shampoo containing zinc pyrithione (the active ingredient in Garnier Fructis Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, $4.69, at drugstores). It will kill the fungus, and stop the itching and flakes.
Cracked Reptilian Skin
Too many hot showers and not enough body cream can make yourskin resemble a desert creature’s. “Arms and legs have fewer oil glands, so they tend to be drier and scalier than other parts, especially in the winter,” says Day.
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Soothing Solution: Milk does a body good—inside and out. The natural fats and lactic acid in moo juice can soften skin, lightly exfoliate, and abate irritation, says Regina Viotto, a skin-care specialist at the Paul Labrecque Salon and Spa in New York City. Draw yourself a nourishing bath by adding two cups of skim milk to warm—not hot—water. Soak for about 15 minutes, pat skin dry, and apply amilk-and-honey cream to boost the benefits (try Burt’s Bees Naturally Nourishing Milk & Honey Body Lotion, $10, at drugstores).