3 Top Tips To Save Your Skin This Winter

Winter is approaching and for most of us that means it is time to tackle our changing skin needs. As the air outside gets colder and the humidity decreases, indoor heat gets hotter and drier, which can lead to skin that is parched from moisture as the air around us, indoor and out, selfishly steals our reserves. Rosacea, which is commonly triggered by extremes in temperature, can flare more easily.  Eczema and psoriasis can flare too, and those with acne-prone skin may even start to see an increase in breakout.

Another tricky aspect we are presented with these days is that while winter weather may be imminently approaching, temperatures can range widely from day to day or week to week. One day it can be cold and blustery and the very next temperatures can soar into the 60’s, making it difficult to know what coat to wear let alone which moisturizer to use.  Wool and coarse fabrics can irritate your skin and add to the problem. Here is the solution to your winter skin woes:

1. Listen to your skin: It will always tell you what it needs, and what it doesn’t like. If your rosacea is flaring or you’re breaking out like you haven’t in a while, there is still hope. Try to pinpoint any triggers, avoid them when possible and be sure to stick to your skin care routine especially when you’re under stress. Perhaps you are overdue for a maintenance treatment or a visit to your dermatologist for a peel or skin care assessment? Did you run out of a skincare product that you love? Your skin will need different ingredients and products as weeks, months and years go by, but a common thread of consistency in your daily routine- cleansing, hydrating and sun protection- is important to prevent flares and keep your skin looking it’s most beautiful radiant best.

2. Check the weather: Just like you think ahead for seasonal weather changes, you should also prepare for the effects the changes in season will have on your skin. Learning to layer the right products and adding or subtracting ingredients throughout the year will lead to happier, healthier, more beautiful skin. Warmer days tend to be a bit more humid, so layers of antioxidant serums, hyaluronic acid serums and lightweight sunscreens may do the trick for you. Colder days, especially when it is dry and windy, may require a moisturizer designed to help seal in precious moisture. The body is drier than the face, and all skin loses water as you sleep and your body repairs damage from the day, so be sure to add a richer layer of hydration at night and find an easy to maintain humidifier to use in your bedroom as you sleep, allowing your skin to protect, replenish and restore its moisture bank.

3. Have the right skin care products ready in your arsenal: Key pieces are critical. Once you know which products you love and what works best for you,  make sure you have them supplied and available to use on the fly as needed. Once you learn to listen to your skin and remember to routinely think of your daily skincare as you would your outfit selection for the day, you will start feeling and seeing more consistency in your skin health. See below to learn how to select the best products for your skin needs.

If all your efforts still only get you so far, trust the experts- after all it is what we are here for!

Skincare products that help you cope:

Facial Serums with Hyaluronic Acid

Depending on how prone to dryness your skin is,  the cold air will quickly steal moisture from your skin. Layering serums, thinnest to thickest, under lotions and creams, helps to infuse your skin with deeper hydration. Topping off with the right lotion or cream will seal in all the good stuff so you’ll be best prepared for blustery, cold days.

I like to think of using Hyaluronic acid, which is a humectant, helping to pull in and hold water in the skin, as an ingredient that helps to fill the well. HA attracts water from the air around you and holds onto it, up to 1,000 times its weight, and is part of how your skin hydrates itself naturally. After a week or so of consistent HA use your skin’s moisture well will be replenished so you have better defense against dryness. As we age, we lose our reserves of naturally occurring HA so it’s important to supplement with it topically. Not only will it help you feel less dry but your skin will also plump up and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles will soften.

A few favorites: SkinCeuticals H.A. Intensifier, Skin Medica HA5 and PCA Hydrating Serum

Facial Antioxidant Serums

Using antioxidant serums year round is a must. In the summer, we tote antioxidants for their protective qualities when layered with sunscreens and the same is true in the winter months. Some of us can upgrade to more emollient formulas in the winter for an extra boost of hydration. If you don’t already have a facial antioxidant you love, Alastin Skin Nectar, SkinBetter Alto, SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic and Skin Medica TNS Essential Serum are all highly recommended!

Super Gentle Exfoliants

You might notice that treatment ingredients and acne medications  suddenly begin to irritate your skin as the weather gets colder. This is because as your skin loses moisture and naturally occurring protective oils, active ingredients penetrate more deeply. To counter this, use actives less often and sandwich them between serums and moisturizers. If they still irritate you, switch it up and try these clever products from RestorSea, which exfoliate without any irritation and help to enhance skin function and barrier repair. RestorSea Intensive Treatment 10x is a safe and non-irritating alternative to retinols. Apply RestorSea Rebalancing Lotion on top for additional hydration.

Facial Moisturizers

Your moisturizers will never work better than they do when layered over your favorite Hyaluronic Acid and Antioxidant Serums. And for some of us, these layers of serums might be enough, especially when topped in the day with a protective sunscreen. For those who need a bit more, we recommend finding a formulation designed for your specific skin needs. Drier skin types can use moisturizers morning and night. For combination-to-normal-to-dry skins, we say sleep in one that you love, remembering to slather your neck and chest too.

Dry Skin: Skin Medica Dermal Repair, MD Rejuvena Ultra-Rich Hydration, Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream (for extra-dry skin)

Normal-to-Dry Skin: Epionce Medical Barrier Repair, SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore, Sente Dermal Repair Cream, Skin Medica Total Defense and Repair SPF

Oily or Combination Skin: SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion SPF 50, NeoCutis MicroDay

Hydrating Masks

1-2 nights a week you can apply a hydrating mask. For very dry skin, apply a cream or gel based mask like SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Masque  for 10-20 minutes, tissue the mask off and then apply your regular nightly routine. For normal to dry skin, apply your evening skincare and then a sheet mask over the products, wearing the sheet mask, like SkinCeuticals Biocellulose Restorative Masque for up to an hour or even overnight. Make sure you’ve got a good humidifier going while you sleep, too. Certain essential oil diffusers also infuse the air with moisture with the adding bonus of sleep-enhancing essential oils like Lavender or Chamomile. In a pinch, take a tip from our grandmothers and great grandmothers and place a bowl of water by your bed- it doesn’t work nearly as well as the other options but it’s certainly better than nothing.

Lips, Hands, Feet, Body

Dry, chapped skin can start to appear on the hands, legs and body as soon as the weather starts to change. Keep a bottle of liquid coconut oil (Nutiva Organic Cold-Pressed Liquid Coconut Oil) in the bathtub and apply it to your whole body while the water is still running. A little coconut oil goes a long way and the warm shower water helps you spread it evenly over your whole body (do not apply to feet while standing in the shower and be especially careful not to slip getting in or out!). Before drying off, try applying 1-2 pumps of an exfoliating, hydrating body lotion. Some of my favorites are: PCA Body Therapy, AmLactin Hydrating Body Lotion, SkinFix Extra Strength Soothing Body Cream and Theraplex Emollient for Severely Dry Skin.

Replace hand soaps with richer moisturizing formulas and keep hand lotions next to your sink in the bathroom and kitchen and apply after every hand wash and in your purse for when you’re on the go. Pro tip: If you don’t like your hands to feel greasy, just apply the formula to the back of your hands from time to time. Keep your hands covered with gloves or mittens on especially cold days to protect them from cold, dry air.

To better manage dry cracked feet, begin by exfoliating regularly. Most of us get pedicures less frequently in the winter but when you do, skip the exfoliating callus remover and more aggressive exfoliation methods offered at spas as they can go wrong, making you more prone to cracked heels. Instead, when you step out of the shower, apply an exfoliating serum designed specifically for the feet, then apply something rich like Aquaphor and put on your socks. For less dry feet use a milder exfoliating and hydrating formula when you get out of the shower and before you go to bed.

Lips need love too! Physically exfoliate them gently with your toothbrush then apply a hydrating lip serum. Top off with something more occlusive and reapply it throughout the day. Keep it easy by having a travel version in your bag at all times.

Hands- Dr. Day’s Handle With Care, Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream, Aquaphor

Feet– Clarisonic Pedi-System, Clarisonic Pedi Boost Renewing Peel, Isdin Podos

Lips-RestorSea Lip Magic, EpiCeram Lipcare, Aquaphor

For questions about how to best treat your skin, please call us. We can help answer your questions over the phone or in person during a consultation with Dr. Day or myself (Holly Montgomery).

Many of these products are available on our online store! If you’re not yet signed up for access please call us at (212) 772-0740 and we will happily register you! Access allows you to store our recommendations and other favorites so you can order them as needed or have them shipped automatically, making life that much easier.

 

The following in-office treatments are some our favorite skin savers in maintaining glowing skin during the winter months:

 

Hydrating Facial Peels

Dermaplaning

Clear and Brilliant

Fraxel

Hyaluronic Acid-based Filler

Botox

5 Foods That Are Better To Put ON Your Body Rather Than IN Your Body

Is Coconut Oil really the best ingredient out there? Read on to learn the answer

Fads come and go, some take social media by storm and seem like they’re here to stay, and fiction becomes fact by virtue of repetition. We see the same information over and over, and somewhere along the way we accept it without questioning the source. Anyone with a following is accepted as a credentialed expert and source. Sometimes there’s some truth to some parts of the story which makes it even more difficult to know how much of that source to trust. You’ll see what I mean as you read my top 5 ingredients I would rather have you apply to your skin than put in your body:

Coconut oil

This is among the newest of the fads to hit the scene. I’ve seen article after article and blog upon blog touting the multitude of benefits to brain, heart, immune system, and every other organ of the body including the skin. I wondered how it was possible that this common ingredient that’s been around forever and which I remember from my childhood as being tasty but my dad telling me it’s full of fat and not entirely healthy for you could somehow be a panacea overlooked for so long. I scoured the medical literature and found it contains medium chain fatty acids, and as with most plants it has antioxidants- all good in helping protect the brain and other organs avoid disease and destruction. But it also contains a good amount of saturated fat which is not good in the quantities that I’ve seen being promoted. For most people a little goes a long way.  The American Heart Association (AHA) released a statement pointing out that 82% of the fat in coconut oil is saturated fat. Compare that with butter which is 63% saturated fat and beef fat which is low in comparison at 50%. Pork fat looks downright edible at 39%. They are not fans of saturated fat saying it raises the bad LDL cholesterol and increases clogging of the arteries.

So now you know not to put too much of it in your body but how about on your body? That’s another area where it’s been overblown but still has benefits. All that fat makes it an easy DIY hydrator for the hair and body if you need something fast and easy or should you unexpectedly run out of your hair conditioner or body cream. If you use it in your hair, make sure to add shampoo and create a lather before trying to rinse out the coconut oil, or you’ll be left with a greasy heavy mop of hair that will take days to wash out, proving the point that oil and water truly don’t mix. The antioxidants and antibacterial properties also have some benefit against the bacteria that causes acne so if you break out but have dry skin it may be worth a try as spot treatment but be warned that it is occlusive which means it can block pores and that can make acne worse. It may also be allergenic which means you need to watch out for allergic reactions to it. I do like coconut oil as a go to for hydration and the smell works well as a relaxing aromatherapy.

Honey

As a food, it’s sugar. Ok a little better than simple sugar, but still sugar. Having lost 50 lbs myself, part of my success came from teaching myself to enjoy the natural flavors from foods without adding extra sweeteners, including too much honey. It’s amazing how we get used to sugary flavors and how that sabotages our weight and health.

When it comes to honey and the skin, the story has a much sweeter ending. Honey is one of my most favorite ingredients for healing and barrier repair and it’s one of the few times the word natural means something when it comes to skin care ingredients. There are thousands of published studies in the medical literature on the benefits of medical grade honey for use in healing chronic ulcers of the skin in diabetics and in patients who are immunocompromised. It creates a breathable barrier that behaves as a layer of healthy skin would, has antiseptic and anti inflammatory properties and is readily available. I would caution against using it in an area where there are bees or flies as it may also attract them and cause greater problems than what you were trying to treat with the honey!

Three of my favorite uses for honey:

  • Dab on a pimple that has been irritated or picked at. I know you would never do that, so tell a friend.
  • Add to DIY home scrubs and masks to help thicken them while adding skin benefits
  • Apply over a burn with aloe and over the counter cortisone to help reduce pain, inflammation and risk of infection while also speeding up healing and lowering the risk of scarring

Crisco

It may be good cooking oil but otherwise not great for those trying to lose weight or optimize health. It’s one of the old school offers my professors used to tell patients to use for the treatment of dry skin if they had skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis. Add it to the list of saturated fats good to put on the skin in a pinch if you need hydration, not in the arteries or on the hips.

Coarse Brown Sugar

This is sugar, sugar leads to inflammation, and inflammation ages you. There you have it. Now that you have all this sugar and no plans to eat it, mix it with coconut oil and honey and you have a great scrub!

Salt

A little salt is good, too much leads to dehydration of the skin and body and is not good. That’s why you would die of dehydration if you got stranded on a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean with water water everywhere and not a drop to drink. If you work out a lot or do hot yoga or hot workouts you may be sweating and peeing out all your natural salt so you may be one of the few who need to add it to the diet, but for the rest of us we get more than enough, I would even say often too much, from the foods we eat so don’t add more. Instead, follow instructions above for coarse brown sugar and make a nice scrub or mask for your skin. Especially good if you have oily skin or large pores.

Bottom Line

For all of these items, each has it’s place and moderation is key. I would not advise putting coconut oil all over the face of oily skin with acne nor would I use a coarse scrub on dry irritated skin. Listen to your skin, pay attention to detail and know that common sense should always rule the day.