Winter Skin Care–Tips for Combating Dryness


For those residing in the Midwest, the season of dry skin has arrived.  For some of you it starts with the cracking of the fingers, for others its just a chalky feeling on the skin, or maybe your face peels or maybe it’s all of the above. Usually I accept the uncomfortable feeling, but this year, I wanted to learn more about prevention. I phoned long-time friend, now esthetician, Kate Walsh and asked for some general winter skin care tips. She was happy to oblige. We had a great talk and as conversations about health usually unfold, Kate noted the topic of skin care isn’t that simple or isolated, and her tips soon escalated to be far more complex and organic than the paint by numbers blog I envisioned to write for you.

Therefore, this blog attempts to provide some helpful hints and general information that may inspire you to take some action to do your own personal research on what your skin needs the most this season. What I am sharing works for Kate’s skin and from her experiences and may not apply to your own, as we all have different skin types. I hope you can find at least one useful hint to take from the list that will help your skin (and self) find some relief this dry season.

Absolute Winter Skin Care Don’ts:

  • Despite the cold, do NOT take too hot of a shower or you will dehydrate your skin even more, pulling out moisture.
  •  Never buy an exfoliator by St. Ive’s because they are made of materials that can tear your skin on a microscopic level which is not the purpose of an exfoliator. Kate recommends beaded exfoliators.
  •  Don’t go out in the cold without protecting your skin! That means DO wear appropriate clothing that covers your skin.                                                                                                       

Healing Cracked Fingers

Lanolin. Lanolin comes from wool-bearing animals and is used in a variety of ways, from breaking in baseball gloves to soothing soreness that results from breastfeeding. Because some forms of lanolin have traces of pesticides, Kate recommends using the lanolin that is specifically made for breastfeeding mothers, as this type of lanolin is natural and safe. Kate recommends putting lanolin on before bed, and for a heightened effect, to wear mittens to hold the moisture in longer. Kate also wanted me to assure you, that her surly, bearded, Minnesotan father uses lanolin on his cracked fingers, and it works. So, men, when you are packing your flannel for your next ice fishing trip, don’t be shy to bring your bottle of lanolin. Also, make sure you bring enough to share with your buddies, because you know they will want some!

For Chapped Lips

Vasoline. The only place on her body that Kate still uses Vasoline is her lips. She finds it to help a lot and that the risks associated with the petroleum-based jelly are small enough to outweigh the benefits of her chapped-free lips. She also recommends making an easy and light exfoliating sugar scrub with raw sugar and honey to help the chapping.

For Dry Bodies

Olive oil, Kukui oil (Hawaiian), walnut oil, jojoba oil. Due to expenses, Kate uses olive oil on her body from the neck down. She finds this to be the best product for her skin and she likes how fast it absorbs. Light cooking oil really traps in moisture and the best time to put it on is after a shower when your body’s pores are open and ready to take in moisture. Because oils will trap moisture in, they are not ideal for use on the face.

For Dry Faces

Exfoliation- Make sure you do not over-exfoliate, in fact, some people may want to stop exfoliating all winter due to dryness. In the dry season, exfoliation can make your face even more sensitive. Kate recommends exfoliating once a week during this season unless your skin is really dry. Kate also recommends that men exfoliate before they shave. If you shave every day and have dry skin then you can exfoliate every three days or as needed. She recommends any Jack Black product from Sephora for men. While men might feel weird going into the store, Kate assures that your skin will thank you, and people will start to notice changes. A former client who happened to be a marine, started using some of these products and started taking care of his skin; suddenly people were approaching him asking him about why he looked so different. Apparently he just stopped using the wash cloth and bar of soap method and started exfoliating and moisturizing properly.

Cleanser- During the winter, find a cleanser for your face that has a moisturizer in it. If your skin is too oily then use a cleanser without moisturizer. Kate likes to switch hers up. Right now she is using a cleanser from Peter Thomas Roth’s clinical skin care line.

Washing in general- Do not over-wash your face. At most, wash twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Some days you may only need to wash with lukewarm water. Listen to your skin.

Moisturizer- To moisturize dry skin, find a creme (which has oil in it); if your skin is too oily, use a lotion (without oil). Some people may find they can use a creme in the winter because their skin is so dry. Kate’s favorite moisturizing product line is Avalon Organic’s Vitamin C products. She likes this line because it is packed with vitamins and nutrients and it is organic.

Other Variables Affecting Your Skin

Ultimately Kate believes that we heal from the inside out. She said, “there’s a lot you can do on the outside to manipulate your skin, but there are intrinsic factors that are just important to address.” She mentioned how genetics, diet, habits (smoking or exercise) and stress all really impact our skin. She recommended finding ways to reduce stress as part of a skin care plan and emphasized a good diet with exercise. As much as people do not like to commit to this aspect of skin care, eating healthy, drinking lots of water and exercising will do wonders for your skin.

Want more information?

Interested in learning more about skin care and skin care products? Kate recommends following dermatologist, Nicholas Perricone‘s work, and if you can splurge, she finds his products to be very effective. Also, if you are really excited about skin care, Kate went to Makana Esthetics Wellness Academy and loved her experience. If you want to look deeper at skin care and potentially start a new career, check out an Esthetician program near you.

Feel overwhelmed by it all but still want healthier skin?

Well that’s no problem. Kate recommends that everyone finds a local esthetician and schedules monthly appointments. Estheticians are trained to understand your skin, and they are excited to help you create a proper care plan that is unique to your skin’s properties and that is preventative. They do a lot of the work for you by motivating you, pampering you and giving you the tools to do it yourself. Unlike dermatologists, everyone can see an esthetician, and everyone can benefit from seeing one.  As Kate mentioned, our skin is the biggest organ and it eliminates toxins from our bodies.  If our skin is not at it’s best, it will not be able to rid our body of toxins properly which can lead to various diseases and cancers that are otherwise preventable through proper care of our skin and ourselves.

That’s all great, but I can’t afford it.

  • For the next holiday or birthday you have coming up, ask for a gift certificate to see an esthetician.
  • Find a student who is in training where you can get a discounted price.
  • Look into the hour dollars service exchange program for an esthetician to exchange services with–or be bold, just ask an esthetician if it would be possible to accept some hours of your time for their service. Be creative.
  • Otherwise, maybe it’s time to add this service into your budget. If you find that the preventative measures and the feeling you have with healthy skin are worth it, then make sure your dollars reflect it’s importance.

If you liked this post, have suggestions for other skin care topics or skin care questions, please let me know, as Kate may continue to contribute skin tips for this blog.

5 responses »

  1. My Acne is taking over my life and I have tried so many things 😦 Any suggestions for an affordable Anti-Acne plan? Some of the suggested treatments are WAAAAY over my budget.

    • Battling acne is not a pleasant thing to deal with so I am sorry to hear you are having some problems. I hope to help you find a solution. 🙂

      My Mother battled with Acne after the birth of my brother back in the 70’s. She tried everything that was on shelves at drug stores or whatever her dermatologist recommended. After years of taking Accutane, which is damaging to the liver, her dermatologist suggested an over the counter medicated facial scrub called, PERNOX. Costing around $22, I believe, PERNOX is an acne treatment miracle! My mother’s skin cleared up after using a pea sized amount morning and at night. Eventually she only needed to use it once a day and then down to every other day.

      I also use it when I feel a pimple beginning to errupt and it usually stops it from surfacing.

      You should be able to find the facial scrub at your local Walgreen’s Store.

      If you decide to try the product out pay attention to your skin and be attentive to how dry it becomes. If you find that your skin is really tight and begins to become sensitive, back off and try only using once a day. Also, DO NOT forget to use an oil free moisturizer.

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