With its freezing temperatures, whipping winds, and cold, dry air, winter can do a real number on hair and skin. All those factors, plus low humidity, central heat, and hot showers can strip away much-needed moisture and natural oils, leaving you with dry, brittle hair and itchy, irritated skin.
To glean some insight on how to maintain a glowing complexion and luscious locks all year long, we talked with Tammy Davidson, certified esthetician at the LifeSpa at Life Time in Colorado Springs, Colo. and Erin Hickey, LifeSpa category manager and licensed hair stylist. These are their top tips.
1. Focus on hydration.
Hydration starts from within, and upping your water intake will help prevent dry, irritated skin — and encourage healthier hair, too. Yet with the lack of sensation to stay cool (as you typically feel get in warmer weather), many people drink less water in the winter.
With that in mind, aim to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water daily. This can include ice water, as well as a mug of hot tea or warm water with lemon.
2. Invest in a humidifier.
“You likely spend a lot of your time indoors during the winter, and heating systems suck moisture from the air, which can remove natural oils from your skin,” says Davidson. “A humidifier replaces that moisture and can help keep your skin’s natural moisture barrier intact.” Consider adding one to the room you spend the most time in, such as your bedroom, and run it while you sleep.
3. Shorten your showers.
Hot water can break down your skin’s moisture barrier, so aim for quick showers. Get in and out as fast as you can, staying under a lukewarm water stream for no longer than five minutes. And avoid excessive washing, especially if your arms and legs are feeling dry, as it can cause extra dryness and flaking. Davidson recommends skipping the soap and simply rinsing with water, or sticking with a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser.
4. Choose the right moisturizer.
“I always look for hydrating products with vitamin C and hyaluronic acid to smooth, rehydrate, and plump parched skin,” Davidson says. Hyaluronic acid’s main function is to retain water to keep your tissues hydrated. When your skin is protected and hydrated, your skin cell production increases to create glowing skin. You can also try incorporating some of these natural skin remedies based on how your skin is reacting to the winter weather.
Bonus tip: Apply moisturizer when your skin is a little damp, such as after a shower, to help it hold on to some of the water.
5. Try a facial.
Many salons, including the LifeSpa, will customize a facial for your skin type. This can include providing extra moisture if your skin is showing signs of winter dryness. You can also try a HydraFacial® for several skin benefits. This relaxing service resurfaces and detoxifies by extracting impurities from your face and infusing your pores with antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, and moisturizing serums — one of the most effective ways to combat dryness and protect your skin.
1. Cut back on shampooing.
“An itchy, flaky scalp is a sure sign to change your haircare routine,” Hickey notes. “Overwashing will strip your hair of natural oils that moisturize and protect it, which is especially important in the winter.” If you typically wash your hair every day, try switching to every other day. If you’re already washing every other day, extend that to every two days, using a dry shampoo in between to keep your hair smelling and looking fresh.
2. Find the right conditioner.
On hair-washing days, make sure you’re using the right products. Replace your conditioner with one that’s infused with oils to repair damage and lock in moisture. If you’re not sure what to use, ask your hair stylist for recommendations.
3. Dry your hair before going outside.
Make sure your hair is fully dry before rushing out the door — even if it doesn’t get below freezing where you live. “Cold air expands the hair shaft, which can cause color to fade and make your strands more prone to breakage,” says Hickey. “If you absolutely have to go outside with wet hair, tuck it underneath a scarf or hat to avoid exposing it to the winter elements.”
4. Commit to a weekly moisture mask.
Using a hair mask is a quick and effective way to provide your hair with softening, hydrating, and growth-boosting benefits. Once a week, apply a deep conditioning mask to the ends of wet hair, working it upward toward your roots. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes before rinsing.
5. Use a leave-in conditioner or hair serum.
“If your hair has extra static or feels brittle, use a leave-in conditioner or add hair oil to your routine,” Hickey advises. Apply a small amount to the ends of damp hair to prevent breakage and make you hair feel soft and shiny.