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Protecting your skin in the winter

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As the air turns colder and the days grow shorter, it becomes imperative to protect the skin. Not only is the air outside dry and damaging, but the heat inside is dry, and the sunlight reflecting off the snow and the clouds can cause damage, too. For those who spend any time outside, the addition of harsh wind and extended exposure to the elements can also wreak havoc on the skin.

There are a few simple rules for surviving the winter months with flawless skin:

Avoid extreme temperatures. Do not spend long periods of time out of doors in the cold. Although it may be snowing, the cold air is very dry. Avoid hot showers and bathes. Extreme temperatures can dehydrate the skin, making it incredibly sensitive. Choose warm showers. Elect to keep thermostats at a minimum warm temperature so as not to create a dry environment inside. Utilize a humidifier.

Avoid artificial fragrances and dyes. Dehydrated and sensitized skin can have bad reactions to artificial fragrances and dyes, ranging from blotchy patches to rashes to more severe cases of flaky, cracking skin. Choose a 'free' detergent for laundry. Furnish your home with white bath and bed linens for the winter months.

Moisturize and utilize SPF. The winter months require moisture. Apply moisturizer after bathing, using a heavier moisturizer in the evenings before bed. The sun can cause more damage in the winter because of the reflection of the UV rays between the snow covered ground and the clouds of an overcast sky. Its imperative to apply a moisturizer with SPF to protect the face and decollete. Drink plenty of water! Hot chocolate, spiced cider and mulled wines do not count and can lead to further dehydration.

Know the signs of dehydration. Dehydrated skin feels tight and itchy. You may notice scaly or flaky patches. If you lightly pinch an area of skin together, it stays raised and seems to lack elasticity. Dehydrated skin lacks the needed moisture to renew itself, heal and protect itself from bacteria.

As much time and focus is paid to the skin during the summer, perhaps more needs to be given to skin health in the winter months.

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