Well, it’s that most magical time of year again: Parties and gatherings, glistening decorations, mysterious packages under the tree, festive food and beverage- and dry, dry, DRY skin, hair and nails… Yea and Ugh – all at the same time!
If you’re like most women, during the winter season, your skin starts looking dull and dry– and perhaps your makeup no longer wears well or looks good, no matter how hard you try. And if you’re like me, carry all that one step further and add PAIN. My face, hands and lips chap so badly during this time of year that I am forced to moisturize day and night, with added hydrating treatments thrown in throughout the day. It HURTS!
So why does this happen and just what’s a gal to do about it?!?
As winter sets in, humidity drops, making the air around us much drier. Too, we tend to hibernate in houses and offices that are also dry because of the heating sources used to keep us warm. Woodstoves, fireplaces and central heating can have a profoundly negative impact, causing our hair, nails, skin and mucous membranes to dry out – and when you couple that with the natural drying out process that hits us in Midlife and Menopause, it can become miserable fast!
There are several things that can help:
1) For truly healthy, radiant skin, the most important thing you can possibly do is EXFOLIATE: gently but regularly… all the moreso during winter! And be sure to exfoliate your throat area, upper chest and the back of your hands as well.
Dead skin cells can build up over time causing blackheads, whiteheads and pustules. This cellular debris can build up on the surface of the skin and stop moisturizers and other skin treatments from penetrating effectively or being of benefit. This build up also causes the complexion to become dull, grayish and lifeless looking. Regular exfoliation- especially of maturing skin- can make a world of Beauty difference!
Exfoliating products either manually buff dead skin free by using polishing agents like ground nuts, sugar or cornmeal, or by digesting dead skin and cellular debris via acids such as AHA/BHA acids which have their base in fruit and/or milk enzymes, aspirin derivatives and/or certain sugars. A heavier version of these acids is Glycolic.
Be sure to know which type of acid you’re using- and be sure to use them according to directions!
AHA, BHA and Glycolic acids offer the extra benefit of evening skin tone, reducing blotching and firming pores, as well as -in some cases- stimulating collagen development within the skin, providing over a time a firmed and more youthful/resilient skin texture.
But because they’re acids, they MUST be used with respect: ease into them over time and avoid your eye area at all costs. When it comes to acid peels and treatments, slow and steady wins the race.
And while we’re on the subject, never exfoliate uncleansed skin -or skin that’s broken out or lacerated.
For maximum results, it’s suggested that exfoliation take place after cleansing and before Toner application, on this regular schedule:
Oily/Combination Skin: 3 to 4 times per week depending upon degree of oiliness and number of breakouts occurring.
Sensitive Skin: no more than 2 times per week, followed immediately by appropriate moisturizer.
Dry/ Maturing Skin: no more than 3 times per week, followed immediately by appropriate moisturizer.
(NOTE: If you’re a regular user of acid-based peels/exfoliation treatments, additional manual exfoliation using scrubs and/or rough sponges is NOT encouraged!)
2) Increase your water and green tea intake during the winter months. Add lemon for an extra zing and detoxing opportunity. Get creative with your water: add cucumber slices, fresh citrus slices, berries or mint. Be sure to drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day to make sure you’re staying properly hydrated. (Please see my past Kalon Women Magazine articles for an in-depth discussion on water consumption, hydration and skin health.)
3) Use a heavier than normal moisturizer in the winter months and apply it morning and night. This is also a great time of year to invest in a good hydrating lip balm and eye cream. Adding a once or twice per week hydrating facial masque also proves beneficial during this time of year.
4) If you heat your home with a woodstove or fireplace, be sure to add moisture back in to the ambient air by placing a kettle or pan of water on top of the woodstove and keeping it filled with water. For an added benefit, if you’re using a pan you don’t plan on ever cooking in- add a few drops of essential oil such as eucalyptus, rosemary or cinnamon to scent the air and provide an additional aromatherapy treatment.
5) Cut back on powder-based makeup during this time. Go easy on setting powders, powder blushes and matte foundations. These will only worsen the appearance of dry, dull, chapped, dehydrated skin. If your skin isn’t acne prone, switch to moisturizing formulations that are more emollient. Doing so will help protect your skin and also will add a bit of radiance and dewiness to your appearance, which can be very youth-a-fying!
6) If you normally use a heavy astringent after cleansing because your skin is more prone to oil build-up and breakouts, now is an excellent time to switch to pure witch hazel instead. Astringents are alcohol based and as such, are DRYING. Pure witch hazel is much more gentle- yet still effective for toning and closing pores after cleansing.
Now, on to hair and nails:
Hair and nails are nothing more than appendages of the skin. What affects one, affects the others.
First and foremost, if at all possible, let your hair rest during winter.
If you regularly roll your hair using hot rollers or dry your hair using standard hairdryers, take a break during the winter months. Change your style so you don’t have to roll regularly, and let your hair dry naturally whenever you can.
Trim dry ends a bit more frequently than you do during spring and summer. Every 4 weeks in autumn/winter vs. every 6 weeks in spring and summer is good.
Also, try not to wash your hair daily during the dry winter months. Switch to every other day if you can, and change your shampoo and conditioner to a cream formulation during this time. These tend to be a bit more emollient than clarifying or gel-based products.
If you can’t stand to go that long between shampoos, alternate between a dry shampoo that you spray on and brush out and your regular foaming shampoo in the shower. You can also shampoo and condition one day and then just condition the following day and rotate this protocol until spring- and more humidity- arrives.
When you shampoo, apply extra conditioner to your ends and leave on an extra 3-5 minutes.
For added pampering, buy a quality rubber based/natural bristle hairbrush and brush your hair from scalp to tip of the strands nightly. Brush for at least 5 minutes.
This will stimulate the scalp circulation and will spread the natural oils from the scalp down the strands, nourishing and protecting them.
Buy yourself a snuggly, warm hat and never leave the house during the cold winter months without it on your head! Cold, dry air damages hair strands and can make them prone to breakage. Keep strands warm, cozy and safe- just as you do your face and hands!
Here are a few powerful, At Home/ Hair Friendly spa treatments you can easily make and enjoy: In your microwave, warm for no more than 30 seconds, any of the following oils. Mix and Match them for added moisturizing boost: Olive Oil, Almond Oil, Avocado Oil, Coconut Oil.
After testing warmed oil on inside of wrist in order to make sure it’s not too hot, gently massage warmed oil (s) into your scalp and into the ends of your hair. Tuck hot oil treated hair into a plastic shower cap and leave on for an hour. Shampoo thoroughly to remove oil residue, condition hair as usual and let dry.
For an added bonus, soak your dry, thirsty nails and cuticles in the remaining warmed oil and let soak in.
Take 2 or 3 eggs, depending upon length and thickness of hair, crack into a bowl and whisk. Apply egg mixture to dry hair, put hair in a plastic shower cap and wrap head in a warm towel. Leave egg mixture on hair 30 minutes and then shampoo and condition as usual. This can be done twice a month and will nourish and strengthen hair strands.
Mix Shea Butter and Aloe Vera gel together, massage through hair strands, place hair in plastic shower cap and let sit for 1 hour. Shampoo and Condition hair as usual. This one also serves nails well.
A couple other tips for you: If you have color treated hair, avoid using mayonnaise in your hair or rinsing hair with apple cider vinegar after shampooing, as these strip color.
If you use hairspray in the winter months to help with frizz, spray hairspray onto your hairbrush and then brush through your hair. Don’t spray product onto your hair directly. This will keep hair looking natural, stop static development and keep dehydrating chemicals and product build up off hair strands.
If you can, invest in a home paraffin dipping system. This is great for dry hands, cuticles and nails and can help ease the ache of arthritis which is often made worse by cold weather. These paraffin dipping systems don’t cost alot and they add oodles of luxury to your At Home Spa efforts!
Dip hands 1 to 2 times per week for maximum benefit.
So, this article serves as your Wintertime Beauty Survival Guide. Employ any or all of these tips and tricks and savor this cozy season. Spring and Summer will be here before we know it and we’ll all be worried about sunscreen and sunburn soon enough…
Merry Christmas, Friends.
Copyright 2018 Carrie E. Pierce all rights reserved
Health and Beauty has been Carrie E. Pierce’s career focus for over 28 years.
Throughout her career, Carrie has served as: Guest and Corporate Makeup Artist for numerous major, international cosmetic companies and as a Hollywood film, TV and special effects makeup artist.
She’s provided skin care and makeup services for the fashion industry, as well as restorative make up procedures for burn and scar patients, cancer patients, domestic violence survivors and women suffering with self-esteem issues.
Carrie is a licensed Aesthetician, Certified Color Analyst, Menopause Skin Care Specialist, Author and Co Host of a nationally syndicated radio show.
Together with Life Coach Kris Cavanaugh Castro, Carrie has co created a coaching program created especially for Midlife women- and the men who love them. Called ‘Making Peace With Menopause’ this program covers the myriad health, beauty, emotional, spiritual and mental aspects of the Menopause journey.
It’s Carrie’s mission and her passion to help women be the best they can be – especially as they move through Midlife!