Protecting Your Skin in Winter

Winter conditions can impact skin. Here's how you can protect it.

Winter hat and scarf and sunglasses, illus. by Ron Chan, image

Skin can take a beating in wintertime, too. 

You probably won't be moved to show much skin this winter, but any patch that does stay exposed needs extra care. So says Joel Cohen, a dermatologist at AboutSkin in Englewood, Colo., where the high altitude conspires with the average midwinter temperature (about 30 degrees).

“Cold and wind can really dry out your skin,” Cohen says. Also, he adds, sun reflecting from snow and ice can be as intense as any rays you get at the beach.

But that’s no reason to stay inside when and where the snow flies. Instead, Cohen recommends being scrupulous about covering up those often-neglected spots with gloves, a hat, and well-fitting sunglasses.

“We see a lot of skin cancers on eyelids because people forget their sunglasses,” he says.

Cohen regularly tells his patients that carefully chosen skin products can help, too. He recommends frequent, generous applications of broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) sunscreen to prevent burns—the most important skin-care step.

Beyond that precaution, moisturizers containing ceramides can relieve winter dryness, and hand creams that include glycerin and dimethicone are great for chapped or cracked palms.

Illustration by Ron Chan

This article was first published in January 2014. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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