Most Chicago residents know well why it’s called the Windy City – all you have to do is experience the frigid breezes that blow off Lake Michigan and sweep through the city’s streets. Every winter, Chicago also gets nearly 30 inches of snowfall on average.
All that doesn’t stop the people of Chicagoland from braving the cold and enjoying winter outdoor activities. From sledding to ice skating to cheering for the Bears at Soldier Field, there are many fun things to do. But all that winter weather can be hard on your skin if you don’t take precautions.
Cold, windy air strips moisture from your skin’s surface, leading to dry, chapped, and even painful skin. The skin care experts at The Derm are here to help! Follow these skin care tips for winter outdoor activities to keep your skin safe and protected.
Protect your head, ears, hands, and feet
Your blood flow concentrates in your body’s core in the cold, leaving your head, ears, hands, and feet more vulnerable. Wearing protective winter gear helps trap in the warmth and humidity your skin needs.
Any time you go outdoors, wear a hat or headband to cover your head and ears. You should also cover as much of your skin as possible with gloves, scarves, mufflers, and/or ski masks – especially if you’re participating in an activity like sledding where you move fast, creating even more wind.
Wear lots of layers
Excess sweating causes your body to lose even more heat. You want to be warm when you’re outside, but not too warm – that’s why layering is such a great solution.
For instance, wear a thin pair of glove liners made from a wicking material (such as polypropylene) under heavy fleece-lined gloves. You can easily remove the outer pair if your hands get too sweaty. Got cold feet? Buy winter boots or shoes a half size larger to allow room for thick thermal socks or an extra pair of regular socks.
Clothing made of wool, fleece, or polypropylene holds more body heat than cotton and traps warm air closer to your body. However, any type of wet clothing can chill the body quickly. If you take a tumble in the ice or snow, remove the wet layer(s) to help you stay dry.
Moisturize with deeply-hydrating skin creams
Some people don’t care for the feeling of moisturizer on their skin, but winter is when you need it most. A thick, high-quality product will help trap much-needed moisture in your skin.
Look for ingredients like botanical oils, shea butter, hyaluronic acid, ceramides, glycerin, or even lanolin (if you’re not allergic to wool). Your provider at The Derm can suggest options for you.
Apply moisturizer every time you wash your skin and throughout the day as needed. You’ll want to move fast – moisturizers work best if they’re applied within three minutes after toweling yourself dry. You can use moisturizer anywhere on your body, but avoid getting it near your eyes.
Don’t forget sunscreen
It’s just as easy to get sunburned in the winter as in the summer. Most of the sun’s UV radiation can still pass through clouds on overcast days. And when it’s sunny, fresh snow can reflect up to 90% of UV radiation.
During the winter, wear a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher on any area not covered by clothing (such as your face, neck, and hands). Your sunscreen should offer broad-spectrum protection and block both UVA and UVB rays. Creams and lotions are usually more moisturizing than sprays.
Lastly, remember to protect your lips – a lip balm that contains sunscreen can prevent chapped lips and sunburn at the same time.
Avoid hot water and harsh soaps
Who doesn’t long for a hot shower after being outside in Chicagoland’s winter weather? Unfortunately, hot water causes your skin to lose more natural skin oils and dry out even faster.
Instead of taking a long, piping-hot shower, use warm water and limit yourself to 5-10 minutes. Do you shower every day? If you don’t break a sweat, daily showers aren’t needed – try showering every other day instead.
Like showers, harsh soaps strip your skin of the natural oils that help keep it hydrated. You can reduce this damage by using gentle, hypoallergenic, and/or fragrance-free soaps and other skin care products. Ask your dermatologist for recommendations when you visit The Derm.
Drink plenty of fluids
Can you get dehydrated in the cold? Absolutely. Like sunscreen, proper hydration is just as important in the winter as in the summer.
You can become dehydrated in the cold from sweating, breathing harder, and the drying power of winter wind – but it may be harder to notice when it’s happening. Drink water or sports beverages with electrolytes before, during, and after exerting yourself in the cold, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
Contact The Derm for cold-weather skin care
Of course, skin care tips for winter outdoor activities are just the beginning. With office locations in Glenview, Park Ridge, and Wilmette, the skin care experts at The Derm know how to help your skin thrive in Northern Illinois weather. We’re here to keep your skin healthy and glowing all year long.
The Derm is a comprehensive medical, cosmetic, and surgical dermatology group that provides exceptional care to patients of all ages. Schedule an appointment to get started today!