Winter-whipped skin! Now what?

Question:  I have been using a Retin-A (tretinoin) anti-aging  skin-care regimen but with all this extreme winter weather my skin is chapped, cracked and looks and feels terrible. What should I do?

Answer: You may need to adjust your skin-care routine and anti-aging product use during the winter when your skin is exposed to extreme cold, wind, snow as well as extreme drying from indoor heat.

  • Reduce Retin-A use. The great thing about Retin-A is that you can cut down your usage and it still continues to work. Instead of using your Retin-A twice every day (at bedtime) try applying it every other day or even two or three times a week. Experiment with the amount you can use without causing the drying effects.
  • Switch out the Alpha Hydroxy Acid lotion. Instead, use an emollient (thick) cream moisturizer to help avoid cracking, peeling and chapping. You can even apply this over your Retin-A.
  • Leave the long, hot showers.  Hot, hot water irritates skin’s top layer and also strips it of its natural oils, leaving it unprotected and open to cracking and peeling. Instead  take a quicker, lukewarm shower, less than 10 minutes tops, and pat skin dry gently (no harsh rubbing on skin or hair). While skin is still damp, apply a  super-rich cream moisturizer for hands, feet and anywhere else you are dry and cracked.
  • Don’t forget the sunscreen. Just because it’s not summer doesn’t mean the sun is not strong. Skin is always vulnerable to the sun’s damaging UV rays so I always recommend patients use a daily facial SPF of at least 30. Especially protect skin when doing winter sports such as skiing or ice-skating outdoors – some of the most severe sunburns occur while skiing since snow reflects sunlight (plus the wind-burn). Don’t forget to protect lips with a sunscreen, too.
  • Try a humidifier. If the heating air in your home is especially drying to your skin, turn on a humidifier all day and all night to help keep skin and nasal passages from drying out.

How have you changed your skin routine for the winter?