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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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December 12 2007

Best Winter Skin Tips

By Mark Sisson
17 Comments

I don’t know about you, but I think that tight, itchy winter skin is the absolute worst. It gets brutally dry this time of year in Southern California (and the fires have certainly been too close for comfort). But even in cooler climates where there’s rain and snow, indoor heat will really dry your skin out – even triggering rashes and acne for some folks. Here are some quick tips to keep your skin healthy, supple, and comfortable during the winter:

1. Exfoliate. The first time my wife mentioned that I try this, I raised a skeptical eyebrow. But a good salt scrub with almond oil feels great (I’d recommend avoiding the fragrance- and chemical-loaded store scrubs). The salt sloughs off all that old, scaly stuff, and the oil locks in moisture. I like unscented, of course.

2. Moisturize. Okay, I’m not one to slather on lotion after a shower. Please! That’s why I like using oils instead. In winter, even oily skin can handle walnut, almond, or fruit oils. Plus it’s efficient since you dunk yourself while in the shower. Avoid those mineral oils – they’re petroleum based. Look for vegetable-based oils instead.

3. Watch your diet. Salt, sugar and dehydration are bad for you anytime, but in winter, when your body is more sensitive, problems flare up pretty quickly. Pay heed to your diet during winter more than any other time.

4. Avoid long, hot showers. It’s cold out, you’re a little sleepier this time of year, and a long, steamy shower sounds perfect. But remember this dries out your skin. Keep showers short and as cool as you can handle.

5. Avoid irritating materials. Wool keeps you warm, but try a thin cotton layer between you and your sweater to avoid worsening your dry skin discomfort. Stick to cotton or microfiber socks. For miserably dry, cracked hands and feet, purchase inexpensive moisturizing gloves and socks at the drugstore and let your skin drink up a generous slathering of lotion overnight.

Want More Tips?

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Further Reading:

My, You’ve Got Beautiful Skin!

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TAGS:  skin/hair

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17 thoughts on “Best Winter Skin Tips”

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  1. Winter wreaks havoc on a lot of people’s skin, I know my mother has a lot of issues with her hands getting dry and cracking. Anyone know anything that can manage this??

  2. Oh no. I take long baths and I wear woolen socks (even in the summer!). This does not bode well for my skin.

  3. Does drinking water and staying hydrated have anything to do with keeping your skin moisturized? I’ve heard that staying hydrated will keep skin from drying out as much, but I’ve also heard that staying hydrated doesn’t help at all, and it’s putting moisture on the outside of the skin that helps (i.e. lotion locking in after-bath moisture).

    I’m sure either method has it’s own benefits, but I’ve always felt certain that drinking plenty of water was more the key to keeping skin healthy than applying a product to it. Good thing I drink tons of water and apply lotion to every inch of my body after every shower, sure got my bases covered (in lotion, haha).

  4. You men are so funny – with your hatred of lotions. 😉 Im glad to see you have found some good natural solutions – I love salt and olive oil all over the ol’ bod periodically. Good stuff!

  5. Plain white sugar makes a great scrub because it forms acids similar to the expensive alpha-hydroxy stuff people buy, and it dissolves before it can scrub hard enough to damage. My skin ends up silky and soft. So if you just gave up refined sugar and need to get rid of what’s in your cupboard, take it to the bath with you!

  6. I use jojoba oil as I have been informed that it has the closest chemical formula to that of the body’s natural oil. Would I be better off using a vegetable based oil, or is this ok?

    (By the way I’m from Australia – your blog reaches far and wide =))

  7. i have HAND dry skin problem. Specially in winter my hands looks like a dessert 🙂 but i’m using some cream for moisturize. And i also agree with you hot shower is the worst!…

  8. I totally tried to use coarse sea salt to exfoliate last night and it wasn’t working very well (kept getting stuck in the cracks between my fingers…etc). Thoughts?

  9. Where I live the winters are very long and cold and dry. My experience:

    1. Do not use anything “moisturising” on your skin, ever. The short term effect may be to make you feel soft, but the long term effect is to make you even more dry (because your body sees those skin creams as part of your environment, and won’t waste resources on doing its own moisturising of the skin because it thinks you don’t need it).

    2. Wear mittens where the thumb is in one “pocket” and the rest of the fingers are all together in one. They will keep each other warm. The mittens should be wind proof (e.g. leather) and have a warm material on the inside. It doesn’t matter if they are a little bit too warm so they keep getting sweaty. Sweating is good because it is moisturising that comes from inside your body, so it won’t get confused by it. Put the mittens on before going out and take them off after coming inside again (OK, so you may need a naked hand to lock the door, but you can do that without exposing both hands to the cold).

    3. Avoid soap, and only wash your hands when you need to. Often you can “get away with” washing with only water and then rubbing the dirt off on the towel. Only put the soap on your palms, not on the back of your hands. Similarly, avoid unnecessary showers/baths.

    4. Drink plenty of water. Like I said, sweat is a form of moisturising that doesn’t confuse your body.

  10. Extra Virgin Organic Olive oil.

    All seasons, especially in the winter, I put it on while I am still wet from the shower and then towel it off. I have been using it as a facial moisturizer for a few years now; same thing put it on and wipe off the excess. It is the only thing that truly moisturizes my skin so it doesn’t feel tight and dry. It is also the only thing I can use to clean up my breakouts. And it keeps those tiny little fine lines off my face.

    I am sure nut or other pure vegetable oils would work just as well. I find coconut oil a little too heavy for my skin although I do use a moisturizer with coconut oil and nut butter for my hands and feet.

  11. Pork fat rocks in winter. If you go for a freezing winter hike, put pork fat on your cheeks and nose and I guarantee, that no frostbites will occur. Otherwise olive oil works just great for my body. 🙂

  12. I’m thinking about getting a humidifier/vaporizer, would that help?