It's that time of year again - temperatures are dropping, snow is falling, kids are eagerly awaiting school cancellations, and the annoying dry patch over my left eye has returned. Welcome back, winter. For those of you who live in areas where you get winter, you are familiar with all of this, including the skin problems that pop up! Most often it's dry skin on various points in the dry skin spectrum - from annoying patches here and there to horribly controlled eczema that can even require hospitalization (on my pediatric dermatology rotation I took care of a baby who's eczema was so bad last winter that he was hospitalized)!
Here are a few of my favorite products and how to use them for combatting the problems that come with winter skin.
1. Aveeno Skin Relief Body Wash - This unscented body wash (and the Target brand, both of which I've used) are perfect for sensitive skin or skin that tends to get dried out. It doesn't leave your skin feeling stripped of moisture, in fact I usually feel more moisturized after using it! It also still lathers nicely. Make sure to keep your showers short and keep the water mild and not too hot to avoid drying out your skin. This tip is always hard for me to follow because I find hot showers incredibly therapeutic, but to cut down on time spent in the hot water what I do instead is start the shower really hot to get that first "ahhh" effect for a few seconds (or minutes on particularly tough days), then turn the temperature down and wash up!
2. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser - Ask almost any dermatologist what face wash they recommend and they will give you this one. Even for my acne-prone skin, I still get drier in the winter, and this is my holy grail face wash when I start getting dry skin (*for those who have asked my usual face wash is this one, but it can get drying in the winter time). This face wash is non-stripping, but effectively removes makeup and dirt, and feels wonderful. I used to use it with my Clarisonic brush, but as my time for the AM/PM routine has gotten shorter, I've stopped using the brush altogether (as much as I loved it) and still think the wash is amazing on its own. Use a gentle wash like this one in the morning and evening with lukewarm water, and pat dry with a clean towel after washing.
3. Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream - Another classic, this non-pore-clogging cream can be used literally anywhere on the body and not cause irritation or breakouts. After showering, I pat dry and immediately apply this to my body. I rarely use it on my face because I don't need that much moisture there, but many people do and swear by it. For those that need more intense moisture, Vanicream is a great option, and even comes in a big pump option (super convenient for using, and hygienic)!
4. Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream - Our hands usually get it the worst in winter - and especially those of us washing our hands all the time like doctors, nurses, and teachers - our hands are usually screaming for help! I love this hand cream - it's super concentrated, so a little goes a long way, but as rich as it is, it absorbs quickly and doesn't leave a greasy residue (so I can write without my pen slipping not long after putting it on)! Try to reapply right after washing hands and patting dry. This can also be used anywhere, but I love carrying the little tube around with me for use throughout the day. For those with fingers so dry they get cracked (especially happens to my patients who already have the habit of biting their nails and then have to use their hands all day at work) I recommend using moisturizing gloves at night! After washing hands, apply your moisturizer, and then go to sleep wearing the gloves - this will start to heal up those fingers and keep them from re-cracking!
5. Humidifier - I'm not sure why I took so long to get a humidifier. But I did (N did actually), and have never looked back. Ours actually just broke, and I am realizing now what a huge difference it made! We turn ours up to medium or high during the night and will turn it down to low during the day, essentially running it constantly. All of our nasal congestion (especially Liv's, which is why we initially bought it) and dry/sore throats decreased dramatically (again, something I'm much more aware of now that it's broken)! My contact lenses were more comfortable, and my skin was much less dry. I find myself needing to reapply my moisturizers more often without it! I would seriously consider investing in one, your skin, sinuses, throat, and more will thank you!
*Update* - I replaced my broken one with this one for this winter and we love it. It's about $15 more than our original (the first one linked up above) but this one has some amazing extra features that were worth the price. For one, there is the option to diffuse essential oils - this one is awesome - it's a calming/bedtime blend, and I'm thinking of buying this one that's supposed to be good for colds/decongestion (I haven't used it yet so can't comment on it). It also works as a night light which is perfect for when N or I stumble out of bed to get Elli in the middle of the night for feedings! It has different colors, but you can pick one color and stick with it, or use none at all. And most importantly it does the job of humidifying the air in our bedroom well.
6. Cerave Moisturizing Lotion, SPF 30 - This is my daily AM lotion for my face and I love it (in the evening I use their PM moisturizer). It does its job without breaking me out and almost makes me feel like I'm glowing! Although the sun doesn't feel as warm in the winter months, the UV rays are definitely still damaging, so it's important to continue using a daily moisturizer with sun protection. With the current products I'm using for my face (all listed here in this post) I actually find that the only makeup I need to use is under eye concealer (all the lotion and humidifiers in the world still can't make up for sleep)! You'll find the less makeup you use the happier your skin will be in general, so finding a regimen that allows you to use less is definitely worth it! I will add that I was briefly using a low-dose oral antibiotic for my acne (during the late summer when the stress of wedding planning while on clinical rotations and taking care of Liv became quite apparent in my horrible acne flare)! I have since been off for a couple of months and have not had any flares on this routine (update - it's now been over a year and a half and my skin is still happy on this regimen)! Especially for those of us with dark marks leftover from previous acne, it's even more important to use a daily lotion with SPF, as any bit of sun can make those spots darker and take longer to fade!
7. Aquaphor - No winter skin products list would be complete without Aquaphor. I literally have a little tube of Aquaphor in every bag I own, and in each white coat pocket (maybe a little overkill?). I use this for everything -it's the best moisturizer for your lips - but also for Liv and Elli's diaper areas (we have a huge tub at the changing table), any dry areas, and even small scrapes or irritated areas that need a little protection!
That's it! The products that help get me through the winter with happy and healthy skin! Hope this could be helpful for some of you! And of course, although a lot of these recommendations come from my experience working in dermatology clinic, none of this takes the place of real medical advice - so make sure to make an appointment with your own dermatologist if you're having issues with winter skin!