Winter skin care arsenal

Don’t let winter wreak havoc on your skin.
Dr. Kurt Ashack recommends using gentle cleansers, soaps and moisturizer to avoid dry skin. Photo by iStock

Winter is not a friend to your skin. Common skin conditions that are exacerbated by winter climates are psoriasis, eczema, rosacea, Raynaud’s disease and dry skin (xerosis).

So, to find out how to battle winter’s assault on your skin, Grand Rapids Magazine spoke with Dr. Kurt Ashack, of Dermatology Associates of West Michigan.

“If you want to prepare for the lack of humidity, you could purchase a humidifier,” Ashack said. “I would purchase gentle facial cleansers (i.e., Vanicream, CeraVe, Cetaphil, Neutrogena, La Roche-Posay) and soaps (i.e., Dove for sensitive skin). While bar soaps are generally better, body washes with petrolatum in their ingredient list tend to be less irritating and more moisturizing (i.e., Dove body wash). Purchase thick creams or Vaseline-like substances to moisturize your skin instead of lotions that come in a pump that tend to be less moisturizing. If you have Raynaud’s disease, make sure you have warm gloves and socks/shoes.”

Ashack said you’ll want to moisturize multiple times throughout the day, too. He also recommends taking lukewarm showers over hot showers and patting your body dry, followed immediately by applying moisturizer.

“Limit showers to five (to) 10 minutes,” he said. “Use gentle cleansers and soaps on your skin. Don’t forget to moisturize your hands throughout the day.”

When purchasing moisturizing products, Ashack has a few tips as well. “For moisturizer ingredients, stick with the basics: petrolatum, ceramides, glycerin. These are all different ways to hydrate your skin. Stay away from harsh soaps like Irish Spring soap and err towards soap for sensitive skin (usually marked). While dermatologists generally like face washes with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid for acne patients, it may be more irritating during the dry months so it would be best to consult with your dermatologist about gentle cleansers if you tend to have dry skin.”

One thing Ashack said you can skip are over-the-counter mask treatments. “It depends on the type of mask, but I am generally not a huge proponent of masks. Use trusted brands like Clean & Clear, Neutrogena, Vichy, La Roche-Posay. Again, be careful based on the ingredients as some of these may irritate your skin more during the winter months. While exfoliation with ingredients like glycolic acid is helpful in small amounts, I would again be careful based on your skin type as your skin may need moisture as opposed to exfoliation during the dry winter months.”

But feel free to pamper yourself with the same professional services you enjoy during the winter months. “Just don’t overdo it on the chemical peels or facials and make sure to moisturize,” Ashack said.

This story can be found in the January 2021 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine. To get more stories like this delivered to your mailbox each month, subscribe here

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