Rescue Your Dry Winter Skin

By Alisa Kerr
December 24, 2013
Health & Beauty

Got dry skin? You are not alone. These beautiful Tokyo winter days are notoriously tough on skin, leaving it dry and dull. Here are some easy ways to fight scaly, itchy, dehydrated winter skin. And the good news is, just making a few small adjustments to your daily routine can make a huge difference.

Photo by Emma Catherine Montague cropped

The Five-Minute Rule

You have probably heard it before, as tempting as it is, it’s important to skip long, hot showers. Hot water strips natural oils from skin faster than warm water. So a long, hot shower or bath will dry out your skin. Limit yourself to a five-minute warm shower or bath. This is enough time to get clean, without over drying your skin. Make sure you use a gentle, unscented cleanser or shower gel with moisturizing ingredients. The best ones will be formulated specifically for dry and sensitive skin.

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Once you are out of the shower, moisturize your skin while it’s still moist. Gently pat your skin dry with a towel, just until the skin is slightly damp. Then quickly get to work applying your facial moisturizer and body lotion within three to five minutes of washing to lock moisture in.

Some great body products to use during the winter months are Curél Body Wash (about ¥1,184) and Curél Moisture Milk (about ¥1,365). This range is delicate enough to use on babies’ skin and is widely available throughout Japanese drugstores.

Kiehl’s Creme de Corps Nurturing Body Washing Cream and lotion (¥2,940 each at Kiehl’s stores or online) are other favorites. Packed with natural hydrating and nourishing ingredients including jojoba, sesame oil and shea butter, they leave the skin thoroughly moisturized but not greasy. With the Creme de Corps lotion, a little goes a long way.

Update Your Facial Moisturizer

You don’t have to spend a fortune on a new moisturizer, but you will need to swap to a richer formula to help fend off dry, dull winter skin. Look for key ingredients like ceramides and hyaluronic acid that help your skin retain moisture.

Three effective and inexpensive moisturizers are:

La Roche Posay Toleraine Moisture Cream (¥4,725 online). The fragrance, alcohol and preservative free formula soothes and protects even the most sensitive dry skin.

Avene Hydrance Optimale (about ¥3,444, available at most large drugstores). A hydrating moisturizer that quickly replenishes dehydrated skin, this product is available in formulations to suit normal/combination and dry/very dry skin types.

Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentre is a cult moisturizer in France for a reason. It hydrates dry skin with a mixture of beeswax, soy protein and shea butter and prepares skin beautifully for makeup (¥3,150 online).

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Dust Off the Humidifier

Using a humidifier at home will help keep skin hydrated during winter months, when indoor air is particularly dry. Look for an ultrasonic humidifier, as they are quiet and produce cool steam. When using a humidifier, it’s really important to use fresh water every day and to diligently clean the machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid mold growth. Many humidifiers, such as this Shizuku Ultrasonic Aroma Humidifier (¥4,980 at home goods stores), now come with built-in anti-bacterial cartridges.

Protect Your Skin from the Elements

Before you go outside into the cold, dry winter weather, create a moisture barrier on the most sensitive, exposed areas, such as your face, lips and hands. Reapply moisturizer, lip balm and hand cream before you leave the house. Try Dr. Hauschka Lip Balm (¥1,890 online), a hydrating lip treatment that contains all natural ingredients.

Pay Special Attention to Your Hands

The skin on your hands is thinner than on most parts of the body, and has fewer oil glands. This means it can be really difficult to keep hands hydrated. Ideally, you would apply a non-greasy nourishing hand cream each time you wash your hands to help retain moisture, but this is not always practical (especially when you have small children), so aim to apply hand cream at least three times throughout the day and wear gloves when you go outside. L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream (¥2,940 online) penetrates the skin quickly and leaves hands super soft, but not greasy.

Drink Plenty of Water and Increase Intake of Omega-3 Foods

Making sure you drink enough water can be difficult in the cooler months, when drinking an ice-cold glass of water is definitely not as appealing as a steaming hot café latte. So try drinking more green tea, herbal tea or even warm water with fresh lemon and ginger. Soups are also a great way to increase your water intake in the cooler months. Eating more foods rich in essential fatty acids can also help fortify the skin’s natural oil-retaining barriers. So add plenty of omega-3 rich foods like salmon, tuna, walnuts, tofu, flaxseed and beans to your winter meals.

 

Featured photo by Emma Catherine Montague.