We asked Dhwani Kapur, beauty expert and founder of the Youva line of skin-care products, for her insight. "One of the most common causes of flaky skin is dry air," explains Kapur. "Dry air draws moisture out of the skin, leaving it tight, dull and flaky." Other causes of frustrating flakes include harsh products and soaps, long hot showers, medications and malnutrition.
Kapur shares her tips for tackling this common cold-weather skin concern.
1. Dry winter skin 101
Although cold, windy winter days contribute to overall dryness, it's the air indoors that causes most of our skin-care woes, says Kapur. "During the winter months we tend to bump up the thermostat on our heaters and, while this keeps us warm and cosy, it causes severe dryness to the skin," she says.
To counteract the dryness caused by the heat, start by using a good moisturizer. Then, turn down the thermostat and use a humidifier in your bedroom. This will help keep your skin moist while you are at home. When heading outdoors, be sure to apply a good moisturizer and sunscreen before you step out into the cold. This will protect your skin from excessive dryness, which can be exacerbated by harsh weather conditions.
2. Choosing the right products for flake-free skin
Since turning off the heat altogether isn't a viable option, dealing with dry winter skin comes down to choosing products that won't make the problem worse. Harsh cleansers and exfoliants can cause severe dryness and worsen the condition by stripping your skin of its natural oils. When shopping for a cleanser, look for a mild cream or milk formula without alcohol and fragrance.
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Using the right moisturizer is also very important. Although there are many commercial products available for dry, flaky skin, staring at shelves upon shelves of bottles and jars can be overwhelming.
A common mistake is a tendency to use a heavier moisturizer when your skin is very dry. But the weight of the product shouldn't be the only criteria, Kapur says. She advises using a moisturizer without alcohol or artificial ingredients. "Look for products that contain natural oils such as avocado, rosehip, ginkgo biloba, macadamia nut oil and shea butter. These ingredients not only help combat dry skin, they also improve circulation in the skin, promoting a healthy glow."
3. Your best winter skin-care routine
Keeping your skin healthy and smooth despite the cold doesn't have to be difficult, says Kapur. "A combination of hydrating, eating well, exercising and, above all, a good skin care regimen, will definitely help keep the skin soft, smooth and glowing all winter." And what should that regimen be?
"During the winter months your skin-care routine should include proper cleansing, treatment serums, moisturizer and sunscreen," Kapur says. Here she breaks down each skin-saving step.
Use a mild, cream-based cleanser that will help remove dirt and impurities without over-drying your skin. Avoid gels, which tend to be more drying. This is very important for maintaining the oil and moisture balance in the skin.
Follow with a serum. Serums are formulated with active ingredients, such as vitamins and antioxidants, and are designed to penetrate the deeper layers of the skin to treat conditions like dryness and flaking.
A good moisturizer is very important to avoid excessive dryness and flaking. Look for products that have natural ingredients like shea butter to maximize moisture in the skin. Apply your moisturizer when your skin is slightly damp -- this will help to lock in hydration.
Finally, slather on some SPF 15 sunscreen if you are headed outdoors. There may be ice on the ground and snow in the air, but the glare of the sun during the winter months is severely damaging to the skin.
While there isn't one cure-all to avoid dry, flaky skin, follow these steps and you'll minimize the impact of winter weather on your skin and keep it healthy all year long.
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