It is always important to make sure you are taking care of your skin, but no time is more important than during the winter months when harsh winds and cold weather can take a toll on your moisture barrier.
What is your moisture barrier?
Moisture barrier is the name given to the outermost layer of your skin, also known as the stratum corneum. It is important to focus on this layer in your skincare routine because it is responsible for locking in moisture and protecting from outside factors like UV rays and bacteria.
When can you tell if it is damaged?
Though it is always recommended to speak to a dermatologist to assess your skin care needs, you can perform a basic self-assessment to determine if there has been damage to your moisture barrier. The most common sign that there is damage is dry skin and flakiness. Skin will also often be red and inflamed and, sometimes, cause itchiness.
What causes this damage?
One contributing factor to disruption of your moisture barrier is lifestyle choices, for example not drinking enough water. Environmental factors are also at play, specifically extreme weather conditions. The reason that your moisture barrier gets damaged in the winter is due to frigid temperatures and powerful winds.
How can you protect your moisture barrier in the winter?
- Moisturizer: The first thing you should do is look for a good moisturizing lotion that will work best with your skin type. Applying this moisturizer day and night will effectively keep moisture locked into your skin and protect it from the cold weather.
- Limit Exposure to Cold: Another precaution you can take is to limit your exposure to these winter conditions. Make sure if you do have to brave the cold to bundle up properly in your favorite hat, scarf, gloves, and coat. We all love winter traditions like walking around looking at holiday lights and ice skating, but try to limit the frequency with which you engage in these activities.
- Avoid Hot Showers: Avoiding hot showers in the winter may seem a bit much, but there is actually a good reason behind it. Many dermatologists talk about the dangers of boiling hot water and how it dries out your skin. Lukewarm showers can warm you up just as much and will help protect your moisture barrier in the long run.
- Water is Key: Make sure in between you teas and hot chocolates that you are drinking plenty of water. Drinking water constantly can help keep your body, and by association your skin, hydrated among harsh weather conditions.
- Invest in a Good Sunscreen: Though the sun goes down earlier and the days seem cloudier, UV rays are still in full force and pose a threat to your moisture barrier by breaking it down. It may not seem like it, but sunscreen is just as important in the winter as it is in the summer.
What happens if your moisture barrier is already damaged?
If you find that you have already suffered damage to your moisture barrier, there are steps you can take to repair it and prevent damage in the future.
Because the cold temperature has broken down this layer, using ingredients with heavy exfoliators will irritate it even further and do more harm than good. It is important to be gentle on your skin while your moisture barrier works to rebuild itself. Light creams will work best because they can still cleanse your skin while not being too overpowering. Non foaming cleansers usually work the best due to the lack of sulfates.
You should also give your skin some time to breathe. For about two weeks, focus mainly on cleansing and moisturizing so that your skin is not facing too many ingredients and treatments at once when it is in such a sensitive state.
The winter can be a tough time on your skin, so it is important to stay on top of your skin care regimen and take a few extra, cautionary steps to ensure your moisture barrier is protected.
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