TRANSITION YOUR SKIN FROM WINTER TO SPRING by Dr. Caroline Chang
Dr. Caroline Chang is a board-certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor of Dermatology at Brown University in Rhode Island. She practices general and cosmetic dermatology with a special focus on melanoma and the use of dermoscopy. Author of the blog The Dermafiles.
It seems like winter will never end. If you’re like me, you are already thinking about spring and maybe even that sunny vacation you have planned. But along with warmer temperatures and blooming flowers, comes clothing that shows more skin - the same skin that has been feeling the effects of a brutally cold and dry winter. Make sure your skin is as ready as you are for the change in season. Here are some ways to get your winter skin ready for spring.
1. Exfoliate. The cold, arid winter air has left your skin dry. Cell turnover slows down in the winter and this causes a buildup of dead skin cells, which manifests as flakes. About 1 month before your vacation or the start of spring, start by gently exfoliating skin using an alpha-hydroxy-acid (AHA) based lotion such as Eucerin Intensive Repair Lotion or Glytone Retexturize Body Lotion. For the face, I like Glytone Anti-Oxidant Anti-Aging Night Cream or Neutrogena Healthy Skin Face Lotion SPF15. The AHAs in these lotions slowly and gently dissolve those caked on layers of dead skin that have accumulated over the past few months to reveal the fresh new skin cells below. For feet, use a urea or AHA based cream (try Glytone Ultra Heel and Elbow Cream). Before bed, apply a thin layer of the cream to both feet and then wear thick socks over it. By morning, you’ll have smoother and softer heels. Continue using until skin flakiness is reduced or resolved.
2. Moisturize. Those dry flaky layers of dead skin you just removed were protecting your skin from the harsh weather. Now that you’ve successfully exfoliated them away, keep skin protected and looking fresh by moisturizing daily. Since you are still in the winter months, use a cream or ointment based moisturizer rather than a lotion (try La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume AP or Aveeno Skin Relief Moisture Repair Cream). For your hands and feet, I like Aveeno Skin Relief Healing Ointment and Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream.
3. Protect. Keep your youthful, glowing skin protected by using sunscreen daily, even through the winter. I recommend a daily facial moisturizer containing a broad- spectrum sunscreen with SPF30 or higher to be used throughout the year (try EltaMD UV Daily SPF40 or Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer SPF30). For your next sunny vacation, don’t forget to pack a supply of body sunscreen with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF30 or higher. Find a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high concentration of mineral sunscreen (zinc oxide or titanium dioxide), which are physical blockers of UV light (try CeraVe Suncare Suncreen Body SPF30). Now, if you are like the majority of my patients, your memory of sunscreens is a smelly, thick, goopy cream that left a chalky white residue. Well, rest assured, there are now many different, lighter formulations of sunscreens out there to suit everyone’s preferences, such as Neutrogena Pure and Free Liquid SPF50, La Roche Posay Anthelios 30 Cooling Water Lotion Sunscreen and EltaMD Aero Broad Spectrum SPF45 Spray. For best protection, you’ll need to apply 1-2 ounces to the entire body. You should reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, or sooner if you have excessive sweating or exposure to water. Remember that sunscreen will prevent a tan from forming. So if you are getting a tan, it means you need more sunscreen.
4. Transition. Once the season changes, your skin care regimen should as well. The warmth and humidity of summer weather means increased sweat and oil production. For your face, I recommend switching to an oil-free moisturizer for your face to combat increased sweat and oil production (try EltaMD UV Clear SPF46 or Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture Facial Moisturizer SPF35). In the summer, I like to minimize my skincare and make up routine so I opt for a CC cream. These three-in-one formulas contain sun protection, color correction, and anti-aging ingredients in a single formula (try Physicians Formula Super CC Cream SPF30 or La Roche Posay SPF30 New Rosaliac CC Cream). For your body, I recommend switching to a daily moisturizing lotion, which is not as greasy as cream or ointment.
Now, go show off your glowing youthful skin on your sunny vacation… and don’t forget to schedule a skin check with your dermatologist when you get back!
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