Winter is hell on your skin. Icy winds and wet conditions outside and drying, furnace-fueled heat indoors can make for brutal conditions. Your skin is often left either dry, cracked and flaky, or painfully tight, splotchy and burning. Good times, right? Then there's the fact that frequent hand washing during the cold and flu season also dries out your mitts.
Thankfully you don't have to suffer. Your best defense is to keep your skin as healthy and hydrated as possible. And that calls for the right product for your specific needs. This is not the time to slap on standard drugstore lotions or your girl's frilly, Instagram-worthy hand cream. Such harsh conditions mean it's time to bring out the big guns. Specialty creams, oils and balms that are formulated to get results. According to New York City dermatologist Doris Day, M.D., you should look for creams that contain oil since it traps moisture in the skin better than water (which is often found in lighter lotions). She also suggests looking for oil to be one of the first five ingredients to make sure it's a major part of the product's formula.
Hands have the fewest and smallest oil glands in the body, so they tend to get drier faster than any other part of the body. Especially after a few washes in scalding hot water. You want a hand cream that's hydrating but not overly greasy and packed with potent ingredients that will fight the effects of red, raw, chapped hands.
Extreme Healing repair concentrate,
$18.05 by Skin Clinical
Unscented Advanced Repair hand cream,
$4.23 by Eucerin
Seaweed and geranium hand balm,
$21 by Haeckels
Pro application: To get the most hydration from you hand cream, apply a nickel-sized amount to the back of your hands first. Then work the cream into your fingers, wrapping each one into the fist of the opposite hand. Finish by rubbing your palms together.
Moisturizers work by trapping existing moisture within your skin. This is why the American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying a moisturizer within a few minutes after showering. Dr. Day also advises patients to slather on some more before bed to ensure skin gets a solid dose of uninterrupted hydration while you sleep.
Replenishing hand and body moisturizer,
$34 by Buckler's
Multi-vitamin body lotion,
$25 by Nécessaire
Creme de Corps dry body oil,
$17.50 by Kiehl's
Shower smarter: Aim for shorter, lukewarm (not hot) showers until the weather warms up. And while you're in there, use a wash cloth to gently scrub your skin all over. This helps with itchiness and stimulates circulation, which boosts your body's natural oils.
When feet get dry and cracked it can be, at best, annoying and at worst, very painful. Opt for more concentrated creams that can penetrate the thicker skin on the soles of your feet. You want ingredients like allantoin, Vitamin E and aloe that are proven to stimulate healthy tissue formation and speed up healing.
Healing foot cream,
$4.99 by Gold Bond
Healthy feet foot cream, $7.74 by O'Keeffe's
Foot Magic cocoa butter and peppermint oil lotion, $4.99 by Palmers
Treat any cracks: Before a painful crack in your skin gets worse, rinse it clean and then apply an antibiotic cream. Since it's just a small break in your skin, you don't need to bandage it, but keep an eye out for signs of infection like redness, worsening pain, warmth or swelling.