We Bust Common Winter Skin Care Myths
Think you know everything there is to know about winter skin care? Maybe you do, but what if you actually don’t? To find out if you’re committing any winter skin care sins, read on. We chatted with our board-certified dermatologists, and are debunking four common winter skin care myths ahead.
Myth #1: You Don’t Need to Wear Sunscreen in Winter
Winter is notorious for quite a few things, but warm sunny days is not generally one of them. In fact, the cold winter months are when we are faced with overcast skies and gloomy weather. For many, this leads to the false assumption that sunscreen is not needed. If you can’t see the sun with your eyes, it must not be there, right? Wrong. The sun never takes a break, and neither should your protection against it. Whether the forecast predicts rain, snow, or sleet, it’s important to protect your skin with broad-spectrum SPF 15 or higher. This should happen prior to any time spent outdoors, whether you’re on the slopes or driving in a car briefly. As a reminder, UV rays can penetrate through windows and cloud cover, and can even reflect off snow. Instead of looking for reasons why you don’t have to apply sunscreen, take the extra minute to do your due diligence. You may not see any signs of skin aging right now, or it may not even be on your mind, but the damage will catch up to you one day. “Even low levels of UV light exposure add up over a lifetime,” board-certified dermatologist, and Skincare.com consultant, Dr. Joshua Zeichner says. “Even five minutes every day is a significant amount of exposure over many years.”
Myth #2: Lips Can Become Addicted to Lip Balm
One of the most common winter skin complaints is dryness all-around. This means dryness on body skin, facial skin, and even lip skin. Since the lips don’t contain any oil glands, they’re even more susceptible to drying out as a result of winter’s brutally cold temps and whipping winds. Many people, when faced with this concern, apply lip balms, salves, and conditioners regularly to help find relief. This sudden craving for lip balm during the winter months often confuses people into thinking they’ve created a lip balm addiction. But the truth is, lip balm itself is not an addictive product. Your lips can get used to the feeling of oils, wax, or jelly on them especially after a repetitive cycle of applying multiple times a day, but it’s not a dependency.
Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Rebecca Kazin explains that part of the problem is that many lip balms don’t do a good job of hydrating the lips. “A lot of lip balms out there are really not moisturizing the lips,” Kazin says, “they’re just making the lips feel moisturized.” So we apply, and apply again, and again, and in turn think we’ll need to apply lip balm for the rest of our lives. In truth, we may not even be hydrating our lips at all, which is why we feel the urge to apply lip balm so often. If you feel like your lips aren’t getting the relief they need, it may be time to switch your lip conditioner out for another.
Myth #3: Your Shower Routine Makes No Difference
There are many factors that can contribute to dry skin in the winter. Among them, of course, is the temperature outside. Sub-zero temps, harsh winds, and an overall lack of moisture in the air can cause the skin to dry out fairly quickly. Additional factors include exposure to artificial heat, how often you moisturize, and your shower routine. That’s right—the length and temperature of your shower can impact your skin’s moisture levels. “Showers should be short, 10 minutes or less,” advises board-certified dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner. “Excessive exposure to hot water can strip the skin of essential oils. Keep the temperature of the shower around what you would expect a heated pool to be, approximately 84°F.”
Excessive exposure to hot water can strip the skin of essential oils. Keep the temperature of the shower around what you would expect a heated pool to be, approximately 84°F
Myth #4: You Shouldn’t Exfoliate in Winter
Not so. In fact, wintertime is one of the best times to perfect your exfoliation routine. This is because exfoliation sloughs away dry, dead cells and allows newer cells to come to the surface, which can help reveal skin that looks brighter and feels softer. Dr. Zeichner says exfoliating once per week is fine for most people. “It takes about two weeks for a baby skin cell to make its way from the lower level of the skin to the surface,” Dr. Zeichner says, “And then even more time for enough cells to accumulate to give the skin a dull appearance.”
To help keep irritation at bay, reach for gentle scrubs that are formulated without harsh beads or particles. If you prefer chemical exfoliation, reach for a gentle acid that can remove dead cells without drying out the skin.