Dry, cracked hands? Chapped lips? Here's the skinny on winter skin-care woes.
Newsflash: It's cold outside.
It's also dry.
We can thank that cruel and all-too-familiar combination for zapping the moisture from our hair and skin. Fortunately, it's easy to bring them back to life without moving to the tropics. Just follow these hydrating, glow-getting steps.
The problem: Dry hands and cracked cuticles.
The solution: Even if you don't leave the house without gloves, your hands are bound to take a beating this time of year. In lieu of fancy-smelling lotions, manicurist Rhonda Hansford of Jason Deavalon Salon recommends a rich hand cream containing alpha hydroxy or fruit acids. These gentle exfoliants buff away dead skin cells for more effective hydration. If you have time, Hansford suggests dabbing on some cuticle oil. "It's a great a way to moisturize and freshen up your manicure or pedicure," she said.
Try: Philosophy Time on Your Hands ($18.50 at department stores); OPI Avoplex Cuticle Oil to Go ($8 at drugstores).
The problem: Chapped lips.
The solution: First, stop licking your lips. That only dries them out more. Then, dump any petroleum-based lip products, such as Vaseline. Although this common ingredient provides an effective barrier from the elements, it can interfere with the body's natural moisturizing mechanism, said Nature of Beauty founder Terri Bly. Instead, look for lip balms containing shea butter or coconut oil, which work with skin cells to add moisture "sort of like watering a plant," said Bly.
Try: Eos Lip Balm ($3 at Target); RMS Lip and Skin Balm ($25 at natureofbeauty.com).
The problem: Chicken skin.
The solution: Those bumps (called Keratosis pilaris) are a common skin condition resulting from a buildup of keratin. They usually appear on thighs or the backs of arms and are exacerbated by -- what else? -- dry skin. Fortunately, over-the-counter scrubs and moisturizers containing medical-grade exfoliants such as glycolic and lactic acids can help. With daily use, these treatments can gently break up rough patches and buff away bumps.
Try: Amlactin Moisturizing Body Lotion ($17 at drugstores), DermaDoctor KP Duty Body Scrub ($44 at Sephora).
The problem: Frizzy, flyaway hair.
The solution: If your tresses make you look like a lioness, repeat after me: condition, condition, condition. "Conditioner helps lay down the cuticle of your hair, which keeps the static under control," said Juut Salonspa master stylist Leah Luebbe. During the winter, consider switching to a more intense or leave-in conditioner. If you have fine hair, condition from mid-shaft to ends only so the roots don't get weighed down. And, to prevent any hair-raising incidents, Luebbe suggests spraying hats and scarves with Static Guard.
Try: Aveeno Nourish + Moisturize Conditioner ($6.50 at Target), Aveda Damage Remedy Daily Hair Repair ($24 at Juut Salonspas).
The problem: Redness.
The solution: Red in the face? Defuse blotches with a gentle, nonfoaming cleanser that won't strip skin of its natural oils. Follow with a redness-reducing moisturizer designed to comfort irritated skin. If your flush persists, you could be suffering from rosacea, a chronic skin condition caused by dilated blood vessels. In that case, "modifying the triggers that make you red is key," said Dr. Jaime Davis of Uptown Dermatology. Common culprits include hot drinks, red wine and spicy foods. "Laser treatments and medication can also help dial back the redness," Davis added.
Try: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser ($11 at drugstores), Clinique Redness Solutions Daily Relief Cream ($39.50 at department stores).
The problem: Dull complexion.
The solution: Lackluster skin is a sure sign that your daily moisturizer isn't cutting it. Restore radiance by adding a drop of facial oil to your lotion or cream, according to Paige Ferris, proprietor of pH Orem Spa. For an added boost, apply a moisture mask one to two times a week. Or, whip one up at home with this easy recipe from Susan Garmany, an aesthetician at Thomas Charles Salon:
Combine one part oatmeal to two parts honey. Apply to face. Leave on for 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water.
Try: Intelligent Nutrients Anti-Aging Serum ($60 at intelligentnutrients.com), Fresh Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask ($85 at Sephora).
The problem: Alligator legs.
The solution: If you're flaking out, it's time to step up your skin care routine. Several times a week, buff away dead, dry skin cells using an oil-based body scrub. Exfoliating helps skin soak up moisturizer and any oil left behind will add an extra layer of nourishment. Then, apply a super-rich lotion or cream, preferably while the skin is still slightly damp to lock in moisture. Products containing shea butter or colloidal oatmeal are particularly soothing on sensitive skin.
Try: NP Set Jasmine Body Scrub ($14 at Target), Galen Labs Shea Cream ($32 at Ampersand).