Top dermatologist shares fives steps to taking back control of your skin this winter

(BPT) – Our skin, like most of us, has been through a lot this past year and unfortunately the frenzy of skin concerns is not over yet. During the winter months, cold temperatures, dropping moisture levels and other harsh elements can strip skin of its natural moisture, leaving it feeling dry, itchy and uncomfortable. Much like the unpredictable winter weather, many factors have been out of our hands over the last year and although we can’t control most, with the right tips and ingredients, we can take back authority of our skin this winter.

If you have been experiencing breakouts, dryness and irritation, or if you just feel like your skin has a mind of its own, you are not alone. According to a recent survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of CeraVe, 61% of Americans say everything in their life feels out of whack due to the current pandemic and 65% wish they had more control over their skin.

Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Elyse Love shares her expertise on how to take matters into your own hands and what ingredients to look for to help bring your skin the relief it needs this winter — starting with a healthy skin barrier.

Step 1: Switching up your routine for the season

Your skincare regimen should change just as the seasons do to help combat specific skin concerns that are heightened by changing behaviors and other environmental factors.

“When it comes to winter skincare, you should focus on supplementing the skin’s natural moisture barrier and reinforcing its protective layer,” says Dr. Love. “I recommend switching to products that are more moisturizing and cream-based in the winter, as a cream can help prevent skin from further drying out, so upgrading your moisturizer, swapping out a foaming cleanser for a cream-based wash and decreasing the frequency of potentially irritating ingredients, like retinols and acids, can help skin retain moisture in a season when it is needed most.”

This can mean swapping out the lightweight lotion you may have used in the warmer months to a richer cream, as the thicker formula can better help moisturize and hydrate skin. Winter can expose skin to elements that compromise the skin barrier, causing skin to lose natural oils and hydration in the winter, so regularly using a thicker cream can help restore the skin barrier to seal in moisture and replenish its composition.

Step 2: Seek nourishing ingredients for a healthy skin barrier

A healthy skin barrier, supported by the right ingredients, is the first line of defense against harsh winter elements. Ceramides and hyaluronic acid are key nourishing and hydrating ingredients that Dr. Love suggests looking for in winter skincare products to restore skin’s natural protective barrier and retain moisture. Yet, only 30% of Americans look for ceramides and only 23% look for hyaluronic acid in the ingredients when choosing a winter moisturizer according to that same survey.

“Ceramides are critical to strengthening skin’s natural moisture barrier,” says Dr. Love. “Ceramides act as the glue that holds skin cells together and help the skin retain moisture, acting as a barrier to outside elements. While ceramides are found naturally in the skin and make up 50% of the skin’s barrier, they can be depleted by daily irritants like cold weather, hot showers and high thermostats, so it’s important to use products that add ceramides back into the skin.”

Hyaluronic acid is another essential ingredient for hydration. “In our skin, hyaluronic acid binds to water molecules in the environment, so using a moisturizer with this ingredient actually increases the efficacy by helping the skin to attract and retain more of its moisture,” Dr. Love says.

Step 3: Take moisturizing into your own hands

The winter can take a toll on your hands in particular. With the constant changing temperatures from cold weather outside to the dry heat indoors, paired with irritation from frequently washing with harsh soaps and sanitizers, the skin on the hands can quickly become dry, itchy and even cracked.

To alleviate dry winter skin, Dr. Love recommends using a rich cream like CeraVe Therapeutic Hand Cream. The non-greasy formula is ideal for use after frequent hand washing, as it is designed to seal in moisture and protect skin. Formulated with dimethicone, hyaluronic acid, three essential ceramides and niacinamide, the cream works to soothe skin and retain moisture, while simultaneously helping to restore the skin’s natural barrier.

“This gentle, non-irritating cream is developed with dermatologists, so I can recommend it to my patients with even the most sensitive skin, to help alleviate dryness and leave their hands feeling soft and healthy.”

Step 4: Be aware of your skin’s unique needs

Everyone’s skin is different, so don’t be surprised if your routine is different from other people’s. Understanding your skin type and knowing how your skin reacts to different products and ingredients can help you find the best winter skincare routine for yourself. Adjustments to your skincare routine can take place over time, whether it is prompted by a new season or new concerns as you age. Additionally, many of these changes can be influenced by factors beyond your control, including location and ethnicity.

“Ceramides are a key component of the skin’s natural barrier and are essential for all skin types and tones to keep a healthy skin barrier intact. That said, data actually shows that African Americans have baseline lower levels of ceramides compared to Caucasian and Asian skin,” says Dr. Love. “The low ceramide levels can leave African American skin prone to dryness, so while I recommend everyone incorporate a moisturizer with ceramides in their year-round regimen, this is especially crucial for African Americans, regardless of season.”

Step 5: Take action to take back control

Begin your winter skincare routine and make moisturizing a daily habit! Following a daily regimen that you have tailored to your skin’s needs to address the concerns of winter will help you take back control of your skin, no matter how low the temperature dips.

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