8 Ways to Protect Your Skin During a Harsh Winter

  • Caucasian mother holding daughter in snowy field
    Warm up to these skin tips.
    Cold temperatures and dry air can leave skin feeling uncomfortably dry and itchy. Luckily, there are steps you can take to keep your skin soft and healthy through the winter months.
  • Middle-aged woman applying hand cream
    1. Moisturize often.
    Using a moisturizer during the winter can help trap needed moisture in your skin. For the best results, smooth on the moisturizer right after you’ve dried off from your shower or bath, but when your skin is still slightly damp. Thicker ointments and creams are usually more effective than lotions. Look for those with shea butter, olive oil, jojoba oil, or mineral oil.
  • Young woman putting on sunscreen in the snow
    2. Don’t ditch the sunscreen.
    Just because summer is a distant memory, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to protect your skin from the sun’s UV (ultraviolet) rays. Make sunscreen part of your daily regimen, even in the winter. Depending on where you live and how much the temperature drops, you may need only apply to your face, chest and hands. Everything else will be covered! Choose sunscreen that provides an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Women putting on lip balm
    3. Protect your lips, too.
    Like the rest of your face, your lips need daily protection from the elements. Select a lip balm that contains an SPF of 30 or higher and feels soothing on your lips. One good choice is a lip balm that contains petrolatum, also called mineral oil or petroleum jelly. Avoid any lip balm that stings or irritates your lips.
  • hand cream
    4. Choose gentle products.
    Make sure to use only unscented, gentle products on your skin during the winter months. Some harsher ingredients can dry out and irritate sensitive winter skin. To help keep dryness at bay, avoid deodorant soaps and products that contain fragrance, alcohol, alpha hydroxy acid, or retinoids.
  • Relaxing Bubble Bath
    5. Use warm water and a soft touch.
    Keep your skin happy by using warm water instead of hot for showers and baths. Hot water can remove the natural oils from your skin. You should also keep your bath or shower time to no more than 10 minutes. More time in the water can dehydrate your skin. When you step out of the bath, gently pat dry your skin with a towel—don’t rub.
  • woman with cup of hot tea
    6. Protect your hands.
    Chapped, dry hands are common in winter. Protect your hands from the elements by wearing mittens or gloves whenever you go outside. If your hands are dry, wear rubber gloves when doing dishes or other chores where your hands will get wet or come in contact with chemicals. Applying a nongreasy moisturizer after washing your hands will keep your skin feeling smooth. Keep an extra bottle of moisturizer at the sink to help you remember.
  • Couple Sitting by a Fire
    7. Don’t get too close to the heat.
    Curling up in front of a fireplace or wood stove is a classic way to get warm on cold winter nights. But these types of open flames also have a downside: they can cause your skin to dry out. If your skin is already dry, try to limit your time in front of a fireplace.
  • woman-wearing-coat-on-farm
    8. Dress comfortably.
    Dry winter skin is more easily irritated. So when bundling up, choose materials that are soft and comfortable to wear next to your skin. For example, wear cotton or silk under a wool sweater or pants. And when doing laundry, choose a detergent that’s labeled hypoallergenic.
8 Ways to Protect Your Skin During a Harsh Winter

About The Author

  1. Dermatologists’ top tips for relieving dry skin. American Academy of Dermatology.  https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/health-and-beauty/general-skin-care/dry-skin-tips
  2. Dry skin: Tips for relieving. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/a---d/dry-skin/tips
  3. Skin care for every season. American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. https://www.asds.net/_PublicResources.aspx?id=5770
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Last Review Date: 2021 Jun 13
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.