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protecting skin in the winter

How to Be Kind to Winter Skin

Your skin needs extra love and attention when the weather turns cold. Dry air means dry skin, and dry skin is more sensitive, prone to redness and irritation and susceptible to lines and wrinkles. In the winter, you’ll need to trade in your lightweight summer serums for richer moisturizers and heavier hydration, and avoid steps and products that strip away oils or over-exfoliate. Winter skin care is about restoration and protection — your routine should be designed to soothe your skin with all the extra vitamins and nutrients it needs to stay supple and glowing. At The Maas Clinic, we want you to feel confident about your skin year-round. You can keep your skin healthy and happy this winter by following a few of our top winter skin care tips.

1. Hydration is essential.

A richly-formulated moisturizer is winter skin care’s secret weapon. For most skin types, light and breathable warm-weather lotions will simply not be enough to keep you from drying out as the air gets cold. Cold air is dry air, and the water molecules in your skin start to evaporate into the less humid atmosphere. Without the right products to replenish and lock in moisture, you’ll be left with dehydrated skin that can appear dull, less volumized and flaky. Skin experts often recommend combining a hydrating humectant, such as hyaluronic acid serum or glycerin-based lotion, with an emollient or occlusive moisturizer. Humectant ingredients attract water molecules to provide moisture, while emollient and occlusive products form a protective barrier over your skin to preventing moisture from escaping into the dry winter air. For emollient and occlusive protection, look for ingredients like mineral oil, fatty acids, ceramides or silicones. You can also apply your moisturizing products to damp skin, which helps trap water molecules before they evaporate.

2. Protect your skin from all the elements.

The air isn’t the only thing your skin needs protection from during the winter — it’s vital to remember your sunscreen despite the fewer daylight hours and winter cloud cover. The sun’s rays can damage your skin no matter the time of year, and skipping sun protection just because you aren’t headed to the beach will only exacerbate your winter skin concerns. Plenty of winter activities — skiing, snowboarding or snowshoeing — are outdoors, and it is easy to get a sunburn in the cold without even noticing. And for those of us who escape the wintry weather for a tropical vacation, it’s important to resist the temptation to sunbathe unprotected in the hopes of returning home with a tan. When you use sunscreen, your friends and family will be envious of your glowing, youthful skin for years to come rather than your bronzed complexion while it lasts. If your skin is prone to breakouts and you are hesitant to add a dense sunblock product to your already thickly-layered winter routine, look for a multipurpose product like a moisturizer with SPF that can help keep your skin from feeling weighed down.

3. Exfoliate in moderation.

Exfoliants are important to keep your skin youthful — they slough away old, dead skin cells and promote the production of structural proteins like collagen. While beneficial, though, exfoliation can be drying, and in combination with the already-dry winter air, you can quickly do your skin more harm than good. You should reduce your regular exfoliant use in the winter to avoid irritation — perhaps every other day or even once per week instead of daily. Make sure you know which products to use lightly, too: you may typically think of exfoliants as scrubs or textured cleansers, but these are just one category known as physical exfoliants. Other exfoliating products can be chemical exfoliators, including peels, cleansers and masks with ingredients like glycolic acid, lactic acid or salicylic acid. If you aren’t sure whether you usually use an exfoliating product, winter is the time to double-check your ingredient lists. Many anti-aging and anti-acne products will be exfoliating because they promote skin cell turnover to prevent wrinkles and pore clogs, so they may not be very winter-friendly.

4. Pamper your skin with baths instead of showers.

While a hot shower can be a warm welcome when you come in from the cold, the high-temperature water and steam do not mesh well with dry winter skin. If your shower is too hot, it can strip your skin’s natural oil barriers and leave you with less protection against the cold. Steam, too, can cause a similar kind of heat damage — while steaming your face in moderation can help soften skin and clear pores, too much steam too often can be drying. If you are prone to breakouts, the dryness and oil removal can make acne worse as your skin starts to overproduce oils to make up for the loss. If a warm-but-not-hot shower is not enough to thaw you out, try relaxing in a hot bath instead — you can keep your delicate facial skin away from water that may be scalding, and you can treat yourself to a DIY spa day by adding skin-softening products to your tub. You even use home ingredients like oatmeal, coconut or olive oil, baking soda or milk to make your bath soothing for your skin.

The expert plastic surgery and skin care team at The Maas Clinic knows the importance of giving your skin the extra attention it needs during the winter months. Our premier services include facial skin care procedures and products that we recommend on an individualized basis. Our signature skin care products have been developed by Dr. Corey Maas through extensive research and care, and are available exclusively at our San Francisco and Tahoe locations. When you visit us for a consultation, your skin and skin care needs are thoroughly evaluated — based on factors like skin type, age, health and lifestyle, Dr. Maas works with you to create a seasonal skin care routine that keeps you looking younger and refreshed year round. If you are interested in the skin care services we offer, contact us today at 415-567-7000 to schedule your first meeting with Dr. Maas.

It is never too late, To be what you might have been.- George Eliot