Winterize Your Skin

Halloween is almost here, and in the north, that means temperatures and humidity both drop. Humidity below 30% does a real number on your skin, particularly your lips and hands, especially if you are over 50 years old. In the winter months the low humidity dries out your skin and harsh soaps strip away your natural oils. As we get older, our ability to make more natural protective oils (sebum) declines. And to make matters worse, many people are allergic to chemicals in soaps, most commonly the preservative called triclosan. The combination of these things makes your skin dry and feel rough - and worse - you get little cuts that are so incredibly painful.

Halloween is almost here, and in the north, that means temperatures and humidity both drop. Humidity below 30% does a real number on your skin, particularly your lips and hands, especially if you are over 50 years old. In the winter months the low humidity dries out your skin and harsh soaps strip away your natural oils. As we get older, our ability to make more natural protective oils (sebum) declines. And to make matters worse, many people are allergic to chemicals in soaps, most commonly the preservative called triclosan. The combination of these things makes your skin dry and feel rough  - and worse - you get little cuts that are so incredibly painful.

So, here’s what you can do. Prevention is best. As soon as the seasons start to change – that’s today by the way - apply a moisturizer on your hands and lips several times a day. Good moisturizers are not greasy and contain a special type of lipid called ceramides, along with fatty acids and even cholesterol. Don’t be offended by fats and cholesterol – unlike inside your arteries, on your skin they are good for you.  


If you do wind up with dry skin, step up the frequency of your moisturizer, and increase the humidity of your house. An inexpensive and healthy way is to fill your home with houseplants.  

And if you do get those little cuts on your hands, cover them with band-aids to increase the local humidity of the skin. That will speed up healing. And those special night gloves that act like mini saunas for your hands will dramatically improve your skin. If those cuts are driving you crazy, tissue glues work wonders to decrease pain and promote healing.

Will you ever feel comfortable in your own skin? That is, if you don't make an effort to protect it? Although 64% of adults do report wearing sunscreen when outside for prolonged periods of time, it turns out that only about 10% of people surveyed actually protect themselves daily, according to a recent review.

No matter what your skin tone is, unless you live in a cave with no sunlight, daily protection with either sunscreen, sunblock or protective clothing can not only protect you from developing sunburns (ouch!) but can significantly reduce your risk of developing skin cancer, particularly the deadliest type called melanoma. In addition, for those of you wanting to keep your youthful looks, daily sunscreen has been shown to reduce the development of wrinkles. A great teacher once told me that the best way to not have wrinkles is not to get them in the first place (think of how much money you can save on useless creams that claim to diminish wrinkles).

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