Ask the Advocates: What Are Your Favorite Winter Skincare Tips?
Last updated: February 2021
Winter can be harsh on our skin. We turned to our advocates to learn how they take care of their skin during this season.
Winter skincare tips for those who have or have had skin cancer
We asked our SkinCancer.net advocates about their favorite winter skincare tips. Here are their answers!
Exfoliate, but gently! My skin tends toward the reptilian over winter, and I find regular exfoliation helps. I have had a few moments in the past where I thought I saw changes in a mole but it turned out it was only dry skin, so I try to stay on top of skincare now.
I love my bargain Salux Japanese exfoliating washcloth. It is like a long, rectangular piece of mesh-like fabric. It is readily available online. It is less fiddly than a loofah or a separate exfoliating product, and you can just throw it in the washing machine afterward. To use it, just wet it, put on your favorite soap or shower gel, and then scrub away while you are in the shower. Since it is long, you hold one end in each hand and can merrily wash your back. My skin always feels so nice and soft afterward. Once out of the shower, I use a nice, rich moisturizer like Cerave – the one in the big, blue tub!
The cooler weather does not make the UV radiation from the sun any less dangerous. If the sun is out (even if it is behind clouds), UV radiation is reaching and damaging your skin. Thankfully, most people bundle up when the weather gets cold, which will provide some UV protection. However, it is still extremely important to apply sunscreen to any exposed areas of your skin, like your hands, face, and neck. This is even more important for snowy areas, as the snow can reflect UV radiation off the ground, increasing exposure even further. So regardless of the weather, make sure you still have your favorite sunscreen on hand.
Water, especially hot water, really dries out your skin, so I try not to stay in the shower for as long as I would like to. On days when I have not worked up a sweat exercising, I might even skip a shower. I wash my face almost every night, but occasionally I give it a break. I put hand cream on after nearly every time I wash my hands. I like thick creams as opposed to lotions. My favorite is the plant-based “Skin Food” by a company called Weleda.
In the winter, remember to wear sunscreen even if it is freezing cold outside. I never used to wear sunscreen in the winter. Then I got skin cancer and realized I have to protect my skin year-round because the sun is out and producing harmful rays even in the winter. The only way I remember to do so (since it is hard to realize you need sunscreen when it is cloudy and 5 degrees outside) is to put it on every day, right after my moisturizer. It is part of my routine, just like washing my face and brushing my teeth. If I do not put it on right away, I forget to do so. My other winter skincare tip is that I always put moisturizer on first, then sunscreen. I cannot wear moisturizer that contains sunscreen since it makes my skin break out. So I put on my favorite moisturizer, then sunscreen. My skin is really dry in the winter, and I find that just putting on sunscreen alone can make my face feel tight and look dull.
Winter is, by far, the most challenging time of year for skincare, even in the south. Our temperatures might be mild, but we have some of the strangest weather patterns around. One thing is certain: dry air is a battle none of us enjoy fighting. During the winter, I like to keep lotion handy not only at home but also in the car and at work. Lotions, however, are not all equal. Some of the more pricey lotions with wonderful fragrances are high in water content and do little to soothe dry, red, and cracked skin. I always opt for thicker lotions even if they have little to no fragrance. The best dry skin relief I have found comes from emollients. Emollients leave my skin feeling much softer and help heal the roughest and driest areas of skin.
I grew up in Michigan and always have hated how dry and chapped my hands get in the winter months, especially working in healthcare and washing my hands SOO much! My tip for getting rid of dry and cracked hands is putting on an excessive amount of Vaseline or Aquaphor before bed and throwing on some cheap gloves. Not only does it keep the product from getting all over everything, but if you are acne-prone like me, it stops it from accidentally getting on my face and causing breakouts! This also works great for dry feet – obviously, you will wear socks instead of gloves!
My winter skincare tips are even more intensive for me than my summertime care regime. Each morning after I shower and my skin is still wet, I apply the only lotion that has helped moisturize my skin. My dermatologist prescribed “Ammonium Lactate Lotion 12 percent” several years ago, and it has helped my skin stay smooth. This is extremely important to me, as I have found several areas that needed cryosurgical removal because dryness did not subside. Therefore, it is my way to differentially diagnose simple dry skin from a spot that needs professional inspection and, in my case, further follow-up procedures with my dermatologist.
Next, the makeup base I use is “Garnier SkinActive BB Skin Protector” for my skin tone. It contains SPF 15 and hides the many white and red areas all over my face, evening out my tone. Feeling better at my reflection in the mirror, I can smile and apply some blush lightly and shape my eyebrows. Any lipstick I use has SPF factors – mostly, it is ChapStick or my real go-to, Vaseline! Now I am ready to greet the outside world with my mask on!
Do you sunscreen in the fall?