Most Canadians are dealing with winter’s wrath this week, but it’s our skin that’s also suffering.
Dry faces, chapped lips and flaky skin are the norm, and dermatologist Dr. Julia Carroll of Compass Dermatology in Toronto added most of us don’t understand hydration in winter months.
“The main effect of extreme cold weather is its effect on skin hydration,” she told Global News. “We also see rosacea flaring due to the extreme cold. In the worst-case scenario we see cases of frostbite, but this is rare in my practice.”
Dr. Benjamin Barankin, dermatologist and medical director of Toronto Dermatology Centre, previously told Global News hydrating your skin isn’t about drinking more water (Carroll said this is a myth), it’s also about making sure you’re hydrated indoors (and out).
READ MORE: How to treat those dry, chapped winter lips
“Make sure to have a central humidifier or bedroom cool mist humidifier as well to keep the skin well hydrated,” he explained. “Consider minimizing dehydrating agents like caffeine and alcohol in the winter, and avoiding windy days by staying indoors to avoid windburn.”
Winter skin mistakes
Taking care of our skin during the winter is really just about taking the extra time. Using thicker moisturizers is one way to start this process, as well as avoiding harsh cleansers or using a bar of soap on your face.
Carroll said most people still forget to wear sunscreen in the winter.
“People forget to use sunscreen when it’s this cold but the UVA levels are the same in Canada no matter what the temperature.”
And while we are inclined to cover our hands and head before we head out, most of us are not covering facial skin from the cold, she added. “Stick with cotton or sweat-wicking fibres when possible.”
Another mistake is ignoring changes to your skin. For some, acne, for example, is common during the winter, but Carroll added dry skin could be a sign of something completely different.
“You may need to seek the help of a board-certified dermatologist as very dry skin may actually be a skin condition such as rosacea or eczema.”
READ MORE: Why some people get more acne in the winter
Speaking with Insider, Dr. Rajani Katta, professor of dermatology at Baylor College, added people are also taking too many long, hot showers in the winter. Ultimately, this is drying out your skin.
She recommended short, lukewarm showers and applying moisturizers as soon as you’re done.
She also said some of us are exfoliating too much in the winter. “Too much exfoliating can strip the skin of its natural moisture, and make a dry face even drier,” the site added.
Another common mistake is licking your lips over and over again.
“Licking your lips will dry them out due to the evaporation that occurs,” Barankin previously told Global News. “What you can do is lick or moisten your lips with a lukewarm-water damp cloth soak for 10 to 20 seconds, and then immediately after, apply a thick greasy ChapStick/lip balm to lock in the water.”
Don’t neglect your skin this winter
Caroll added at the end of the day, skincare routines have to adjust when the weather changes.
“Its a multi-faceted approach,” she continued. “It starts with proper skincare with products that are free of irritants… moisturizing regularly.”
If you ignore these steps, it can hit you in the long-run.
“Not using sunscreen can increase brown spots or even worse lead to skin cancer,” she said. “Letting skin dry out can cause skin irritation and may also speed up the appearance of aging in the skin.”