black woman applying moisturizer to skin

Winter is coming, and with it comes all the little hitches that get in the way of you having your best skin ever. I’m talking about the cold and dry air, the cranked up heaters, the extra layers of clothing. All of it leeches moisture from your skin. But never fear! Here are 7 tips you can use to protect your skin from dryness during the winter and all year round.  Some of them might sound a little questionable, but the research exists. And one or all of them just might be the key ingredient you need to up your skincare game if you’re willing to give them a go. So, without further ado…

If I skip one shower, is it hurting anyone? That is the question…

I love a hot shower (or bath) as much as the next person. But if you can, skip a shower. There are a couple of reasons why. I don’t know about you growing up, but for my grandparents, daily showers and baths were not a thing. And it was okay. In fact, the whole idea of daily bathing was actually a marketing tactic by big businesses to sell more soap and mouth by preying on people’s insecurities of “body odor.” That’s not say you say you should never ever shower. You definitely need water and perhaps some kind of cleanser on your body…just maybe not every single day like major soap companies have led us to believe. Here’s the other thing: daily showers might be doing more harm than good. They can dry out your skin, remove the good bacteria that naturally exists on your skin, and introduce small cracks in your skin that might put you at a higher risk of infection. And as much as we all love the feel of hot water when it’s freezing out, that borderline scalding water opens up your pores and lets all the good moisture being stored in your skin escape. If you can afford to (for example, you don’t work out a lot), shower every two to three days instead. It will save your skin in the long run. Or take lukewarm showers. My suggestion? If you have to get in the water every day, try not using soap everywhere (leave your arms and legs out of the soap fest). Focus your soap on just the important spot. You know what they are: face, underarms, groin, etc. For everywhere else? Just let the water run over you. If you sweat a lot, running water is great way to get rid excess sweat and save your skin from drying out.

Lather up.

The most important part of your shower routine is the soap you put on your body. Most of the mainstream soaps you’ll find on the shelves of your Targets and Walmarts are crap. Oh, they tout how great they are for your skin, but the truth is that they strip your skin of not only moisture, but also its lipid outer layer, which protects your body from microorganisms (i.e. infection and illness). And you KNOW when your skin has been stripped. Or maybe you don’t. If you fall into this second category, you can tell your soap is stripping your skin if after you shower, your skin has that tight feeling that has you running for the moisturizer. That’s not clean you’re feeling. That’s your skin being stripped and now needing to repair itself. It’ll take some trial and error, but try to find a high-quality body wash that doesn’t strip your skin of moisture and its protective lipid layer. And high-quality doesn’t mean expensive. I use the Everyday Shea body wash by Alaffia. It’s about $10 for a massive 32-oz container at my local Sprouts. It’s fair trade and the company gives back to local communities in Africa. That’s a good use of my money. And I can use it as often as I like without getting that tight feeling on my skin when I shower. So, start your search for your new favorite soap. Your body will thank you.

Oil up. Get slicky with it.

Once you’re done with your shower routine, use a body oil, a body butter or some other moisturizer on your skin. If you use a body oil in the shower, the hot water will open up your pores so the oils can better penetrate your skin. Go ahead and rub it all over. Just avoid your feet. You don’t want to be slipping around in the shower. Also, in light of slippery tub bottoms, I suggest purchasing rubber mats to add to the bottom of your tub if it isn’t already slip proof. Oils in the shower can make for a very dangerous dance…Speaking from experience…If you’re using a body butter or other moisturizer, let your skin dry for a bit before applying. Moisturizers are easier to apply when your skin isn’t wet. 

Moisturize. Moisturize. Moisturize.

Moisturize as needed. In the winter, that’s likely every day. In the summer, you can probably skip a day, assuming you’re not in a dry environment. If you’re on team shower every other day (like me), make sure you use your favorite moisturizer after your cleansing session. If you’re on the water-only track (rinsing off in the shower instead of doing a full wash), a butter might be too heavy. Opt for something lighter, like a body oil. It’ll help keep your skin moisturized but prevent the buildup on your skin that can come from using heavy moisturizing products on a daily basis. And don’t forget that indoor heating systems and even the clothes you wear can strip the moisture from your skin. So, replenish. As needed, of course.

Get portable.

Consider keeping a moisturizer at your desk at work and one in your bag if you’re on the go. Having easy access to your favorite moisturizer will keep your hands (especially those cuticles) from drying out, especially if you wash your hands often. Plus, if you’re like me and you like to play with heavy weights, regular moisturizing can help keep those callouses from getting unruly. #boyweightsladyhands

Also, if you can, avoid using the soap in public restrooms. I know it sounds gross, but in most public spaces and in office buildings, the soap provided is not of the highest quality and will strip your skin of any and all moisture. Everyone should be washing their hands regularly, but note that public soap sucks. If you’re really on your game, find a soap you like and keep it in the office or in your bag so you can use it when you need to.

Sunday Funday? Not that kind of drinking.

Hydrate all the time. Drink water. Drink caffeine-free tea. Drink protein shakes. Drink all the time. Hydrating is key to healthy skin, especially in the dry winters. Drink even when you don’t feel like drinking. Your body is probably thirsty and you don’t know it. But eventually, you’ll understand your body better, and you’ll know when it’s dehydrated. And you’ll drink more often. And you’ll notice a change in your body and your skin. It’ll be noticeably healthier. Resilient. Glowing. Flaunt-worthy. So, keep drinking. 

But my morning cuppa…?

Limit your caffeine intake if you can. This is coming from someone who drinks coffee most mornings. I get it. Sometimes, you just need it. But…Caffeine tends to act as a diuretic, meaning it makes you pee. And if you’re peeing all the time, your body is losing water. If you’re replacing that lost moisture by drinking tons of water, then you’re probably covered. But if drinking water isn’t really your thing, then up your intake of H20…or cut the caffeine. Don’t hate the messenger. But your skin (and other organs) will thank you.

Those are my tips to maintaining great skin during the winter (and all year-round, really). How do you keep your skin healthy when winter sets in? What tips do you have for everyone out there? I’d love to hear from you. Don’t forget to share.

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