How to Protect Your Skin in Dry Weather and Cold Climates

Do you live in a dry Saskatchewan climate? Here’s how to protect your skin in dry weather and cold climates.

Skin dries out if it’s deprived of water; this dryness often causes itchiness, resulting in a condition commonly referred to as “winter itch.”

“Most of us experience dry and itchy skin from time to time, but you should seek medical attention if discomfort becomes severe,” says Dr. Anjali Dahiya, a dermatologist at the Iris Cantor Women’s Health Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. “The best thing you can do to relieve the itch is to moisturize your skin because, unfortunately, you can’t do anything about the weather.”

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a skin moisturizer to protect your skin in dry, cold weather. Even the mid to low cost moisturizers are effective and long-lasting — such as the La Roche-Posay Anthelios SX Daily Moisturizing Cream.

Me, I use Pond’s Dry Skin Cream because I tend to dry out fast.

And, here are eight tips for protecting your skin in winter…

If you struggle with zits or acne, read 7 Adult Acne Treatment Tips – Especially for Darker Skin.

Moisturize every day and night – even when it’s not cold and dry outside

Cream moisturizers are better than lotions for normal to dry skin. If you have sensitive skin, choose a moisturizer without fragrance or lanolin. And, don’t use hand lotion on your face!

“Dry skin is due to lack of water,” says Dr. Dahiya. “Apply moisturizers immediately after bathing or showering, while your skin is still wet to trap water in the skin.”

Wash and cleanse your skin, but don’t overdo it

Too much cleansing removes skin’s natural moisturizers and dries your skin. Washing your face, hands, feet, and between the folds of your hands once a day is enough. You can rinse your trunk, arms, and legs with water daily; it is not necessary to use soap or cleanser every day.

My husband and I shower every second day. He’s not as concerned about protecting his skin in dry weather – but I find that showering every day does dry my skin.

If you have eczema – a whole different type of skin problem – here’s a natural oatmeal treatment.

Limit the use of hot water and soap – it dries your skin

If you have “winter itch,” take short lukewarm showers or baths with a non-irritating, non-detergent-based cleanser. Apply a mineral oil or petroleum jelly type moisturizer immediately afterward.

Another tip for protecting your skin in dry and humid weather is to gently pat your skin dry. Don’t rub — it’s hard on your skin.

Use a humidifier to keep your skin hydrated

A humidifier is an effective way to keep your skin healthy. However, be sure to clean the unit according to the manufacturer’s instructions to reduce mold and fungi. Gross!

When I searched for “winter skin care” on Amazon, I was surprised to get the Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier as one of the bestselling items. But it makes sense – if dry weather and cold climates are drying, then you need to protect your skin by keeping it moist!

Protect your skin from the cold, dry wind

Cover your face and use a petroleum-based balm for your lips. The cold wind in winter can weather your skin and increase the appearance of wrinkles.

One of my favorite things about winter are scarves and hats! Scarves are particularly good at protecting your face from the elements, and the right ones can make you feel luxurious and sexy.

Avoid extremely cold weather – move to the west coast!

Winter can do more than dry your skin: cold temperatures can cause skin disorders or frostbite in some people. See a doctor immediately if you develop color changes in your hands or feet, especially if it’s accompanied by pain or ulceration. If you develop extreme pain followed by loss of sensation in a finger or toe, you may have frostbite.

The best winter skin care tip is to move to the coast: British Columbia, California, Hawaii. BC – where I live – is actually quite chilly in the winter. But, it’s better than the freezing cold interior!

Protect your skin from the sun

If you live inland (and most people do), remember that the bright winter sun can be as dangerous as the cold dry wind to your skin. Even in the winter months you should use a sunscreen with a sun-protection factor of 15 or greater, if you’ll be outdoors for prolonged periods. Overexposure to the sun’s rays can lead to premature aging of the skin, as well as skin cancer.

If you want to stay tanned in the winter, read about the best sunless tanning lotions and gels.

Talk to your dermatologist if you have skin problems

If you have persistent dry skin, scaling, itching, skin tags, or skin growths that concern you, or other rashes, then see a dermatologist. And if your face is dry, droopy, or wrinkled, (no matter what season it is), read A Facelift Without Surgery.

If you have any thoughts on these tips for protecting your skin in cold, dry weather, please comment below!

Adapted from information from New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center.

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3 thoughts on “How to Protect Your Skin in Dry Weather and Cold Climates”

  1. Well make sure that you are eating enough dietary fat because that is what happened to my skin – always dry and forever putting lip saver on all year! Now I don’t have dry skin anymore. I don’t have that much fat, just cook with a couple of teaspoons of coconut oil or olive oil but I don’t eat low fat foods – I eat normal cheese, Greek Yogurt, nuts, avocado and butter on toast. If my feet get dry in winter, I just use a hand and body lotion that you can get at the local supermarket for about $5 and slather my feet with that, because it’s a hand lotion the lotion sinks in so you don’t have to worry about getting it everywhere! Vaseline would be mighty messy.

  2. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks, Jan, I appreciate the compliment :-)

    My skin gets dry in the summer too. I’ve read that soap is very drying for your skin, and not to wash more than once a day (I’ve read that skin tip in other places, not just here!).

    To protect the skin on your feet and heels in dry weather and cold climates, I’ve heard that you should put vaseline on your feet before bed and wrap in saran wrap. Can’t do that with your face, though! :-)

  3. You do look fabulous for 40! Since I went off a low fat diet my dry skin has improved enormously – so make sure that you eat adequate dietary fats would be my tip to look after winter skin. My skin even used to get dry in summer! I also tend to just clean my face with a warm damp face cloth with no soap. I agree that you don’t have to pay big $ to get good moisturizers.