Feature Archive

New Rules for Winter Health/Beauty

Your exercise, health, and beauty routines shouldn't end when winter begins. But you should change your routine to fit the season.

By JeanLawrence
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By CharlotteGrayson,MD

As the cold winds blow, the sunblock and conditioners go back in the medicine cabinet and we feast instead of exercise, right? Wrong! Your beauty and health routines continue -- but the rules change.

Winter Skin Care

By the time the first leaf falls, it seems like you can scratch your name on your dry skin. "Indoor heating takes the humidity out of the air and we start the scratch-itch cycle on our arms and legs," says Wendy Lewis, New York beauty consultant and author of The Lowdown on Facelifts and Other Wrinkle Remedies. Wool clothing can also leach out moisture and irritate skin. Lewis recommends a lactic acid body lotion called Amlactin, available behind the pharmacist's counter without a prescription (other good over-the-counter goos are Eucerin, Aquaphor, and Vaseline Intensive Care). "If you use lotion," she advises, "you need to use it more often, even every few hours."

Lips, especially, need emollients, Lewis says, recommending products containing shea butter.

And don't forget the sun -- "There's sun even if you're not baking in it," cautions Lewis. You still need sunblock, even in winter. Feet need extra exfoliating to keep heels from cracking. "Put on cream and then wear socks to bed once a week," she counsels. The same goes for hands (with gloves, not socks).

Other tips for cold-weather beauty:

  • Don't use toner or anything with alcohol in it.
  • When cleansing in winter, says skin care guru Susan Ciminelli, owner of the Susan Ciminelli Day Spa in Manhattan, use a milky-soft cleanser removed with a warm, damp washcloth.
  • Get a good moisturizing night cream, even if you don't use one in summer, Lewis says.
  • Also, according to Lewis, you might need an eye cream, but don't slather on too much. After all, eye creams attract moisture, and moisture takes up space, meaning eye creams can cause puffiness.
  • Use foundation, even if you think it's for your grandmother. "It doesn't have to be heavy," Lewis says, "just make sure it contains SPF 15 or higher. If you don't like foundation, use a lightly tinted moisturizer."
  • Or add moisturizer to your foundation, advises Shalini Strawn, beauty consultant who has worked with Cheri Oteri, Suzanne Pleshette, and Cybill Shepherd. She also says to forget the heavy pancake and use loose powder to set your foundation. Remember, the color of your face may be lighter than in summer!
  • Strawn also recommends dusting a touch of bronzer on temples, cheekbones, and the bridge of your nose to warm up winter pallor. Pink and peach blushes also add a sunkissed look where no sun exists.
  • An ampule-oil pack for hair once in a while is a good idea in winter, Lewis says.
  • Don't forget to exfoliate all that dry skin, but stay with gentle methods -- no hacked-up apricot pits or hard, scratchy "puffs." Remember that scratch-itch cycle?

Avoid Adding Winter Weight

Do the math -- people are bundled up in winter, their bodies camouflaged. Cakes, pies, candy, and alcohol are everywhere you go. And you may be inside more, playing Scrabble instead of beach volleyball. In addition, it gets dark earlier in winter -- people get bored or depressed and nibble. Winter was why comfort food was invented!

"Some people say our metabolisms change in winter, but I can't find too much scientific evidence of that," says Samantha Heller, MS, RD, senior clinical nutritionist at the New York University Medical Center. "I do know people think they add five to 10 pounds around the holidays and then don't take it off." Studies, however, show this is more like one pound in thinner people, more in heavier people, Heller says. "Over the years, a pound a winter adds up."