Most likely, you don’t usually think about cleansing and moisturizing. You’ve probably stood under those bright drugstore lights more than a few times and thought, “What is an exfoliant.” But hear me out: Winter is coming. And that means snow storms named after your great aunt, as well as redness, flaky patches, and itchy skin. Banish these cold-weather ailments permanently.
Don’t expect your usual soap-up-then-head-out routine to offer adequate protection, though. In the winter, keeping dryness at bay takes more effort because of wind, cold, and ancient building heating systems that suck every last drop of moisture from your body. And since your hands, face, and feet are the only body parts that see the sun, you gotta shield them from Old Man Winter. That way, you can sit back and relax all winter with a Coors Banquet Beer clutched in your un-chapped mitts.
OK I get it. You barely think about your face. For you, it’s the place where your beard grows as well as the (occasional) canvas for your team colors, but not much more. That said, once your cheeks are chapped enough to resemble scaly, frozen lizard skin, your face is going become a problem that needs addressing.
- Winter is a delicate dance of moving from freezing outdoors to steamy indoors, and that’s why you should be washing your face daily. Even if you’ve got the natural complexion of a goddamn baby’s bottom, regular cleaning defends your skin against the elements and removes dirt, dead skin cells, and other juices that clog your pores. Think of the pores, man!
- No matter how subzero it is out-of-doors, don’t wash your face with hot water — it dries out your skin and leaves it more susceptible to wind and cold. And when you wash, to avoid irritation, use a gentle circular motion instead of scrubbing hard. Oh, and also: No adult should ever take a bath. Baths are basically giant bacteria soups. Avoid.
- Regular soap kind of sucks. Find something formulated for your skin type, whether that’s oily, dry, or combination. Baxter of California’s Daily Face Wash is lightweight and doesn’t make you smell like a potpourri salesman.
- Lip balm is your pal. Always keep a tube on hand for especially windy or cold days. If your lips are feeling the effects of the cruel, cruel winter, you can even try an exfoliating scrub on them to do away with dead skin cells. No need to get fancy here. Any drug-store variety will do.
- Shave after you wash your face or shower. The warm water will hydrate your skin, soften the hairs, and reduce irritation. Try a pre-shave oil to add a protective layer to your skin and moisturize. Or, if you don’t have time for a shower, just press a warm, wet towel on your face pre-shave. And always use real shaving cream; soap shaving is for heathens. Harry’s has some good, lightweight, inexpensive stuff.
- Make no mistake: Father Time is coming for you. If you can stomach it, cheat death (or old age, at least) with an anti-aging eye cream. That shit is magical, and not just for your girlfriend. Kiehl’s is a solid choice.
During winter, everyone huddles indoors, coughing Ebola/the flu/whatever new super-virus people have these days on one another. That’s why you need to wash your hands vigorously. Unfortunately, this also leads to chapped-ass hands. Pair that with an over-eager office heating system and your mitts — if you don’t shield them — are going to be dry, red, and sad.
- Be careful when washing your hands. Sure, scalding-hot water feels great, but it strips your skin of much-needed oils, leaving it defenseless and weak.
- Wear gloves outside to protect your digits from wind and snow. You’ll avoid frostbite (score!) and keep your hands crack- and blood-free. Double win.
- Lotion is your first line of defense. Use it throughout the day. Keep a travel tube of hand cream at your desk and in your gym bag, and put a little on after every time you wash your hands. This one from Jack Black is hard core enough to handle anything.
- This is a last-ditch effort, but if your hands are approaching Grim Reaper–levels of dryness, try moisturizing them before going to bed with something therapeutic — and wear cotton gloves while you sleep, so that the cream can soak in. You may feel (and look) really stupid, but come morning, your hands will be refreshed and ready to take on the elements.
Your feet are probably already much dryer than the rest of your body, and leaky boots and freezing temps make it even harder to keep them feeling decent. Generally speaking, drinking a lot of water and running a humidifier in your bedroom helps. But if things are still getting out of hand — er, foot — you can try these more targeted remedies.
- Keep your feet protected with insulated waterproof boots that will keep out snow and slush. Underneath, wear fleece or wool socks instead of cotton, since they are warmer and wick moisture away from your feet.
- Moisturize before you leave the house to protect your feet from the “winter wonderland.” Moisturize during the day (yes, maybe it’s weird to take your shoes and socks off in the office bathroom, but nobody ever said good hygiene was easy). Want to keep all that precious moisture in? Moisturize before you go to bed and wear socks. It’ll feel all kinds of weird when sleeping but you’ll get used to it and your skin will be pleased with you.
- The lotion you use in summer (if you even use it) probably won’t cut it come winter. If your skin can handle it, you’ll want something oil-based, which creates a nice, juicy layer above your skin to protect it from winter’s evils. No need to get complicated here, either: Vaseline works just fine.
- Listen, pedicures are for your mom and are mostly too much of a hassle to deal with on the regular. Don’t waste time and money letting some poor woman scrape your garbage heels when you can just deal with your own dry-skin situation in the comfort of your home. Get a pumice stone and a foot file from your local pharmacy, bodega, or even Amazon, and go to town.
With the proper routine, your skin will be back to optimum temperate-climate softness levels in no time. Just hunker down with a Coors Banquet Beer and a solid exfoliating face wash and you’re sure to have a festive, crack-free winter.
Nandita Raghuram is a Senior Writer at Studio@Gawker. She tweets here.
Illustrations by Rob Dobi.