​Do you suffer from dry skin and irritated sinuses in the winter months? If so, you’re not alone! I’ve got some tips and tricks you can start using right away to alleviate these problems. Some may even surprise you!

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Hey there, it’s Elaine Gardner. One thing that I’ve been noticing a lot, from my private clients to my family members, is that people are starting to complain about dry skin. I live in the Northeast so one of the challenges for us has been that we went very, very quickly and dramatically from months and months of heat and humidity, to much, much colder temperatures and really no humidity. So it got super dry really fast. And that kind of quick transition can be really hard on your body and your skin.

Dry skin is something that I see many people deal with all year, but it tends to worsen as the winter months come along. This is partially because of the cold air, but also because of the low humidity and dryness of the indoor air, and just the unnaturalness of being indoors all the time with heating systems. All heating systems are different so some are much more irritating than others. Forced hot air systems can kick up a lot of dust and be super drying. And then there’s the chemicals in our water. Of course we’re exposed to chemicals in our water all year round, but when you add that into the mix of things we’re faced with this time of year, it can cause us a lot of skin challenges.

Dry skin can be really, really uncomfortable but there are some tips and tricks you can use to help! Obviously when you’re outside, dress appropriately so you don’t have a lot of exposed areas. Cover up as much as possible, including gloves, so that you don’t get that cold air exposure as much as you would if you weren’t properly dressed. And I know that really seems like common sense, but sometimes younger people don’t like to wear coats or hats, or have to think about those kinds of things. And sometimes even I don’t like to wear a coat outdoors in the winter. I will if I’m going out walking, but if I’m just going to the car to go to my office or to the store, sometimes I’ll just throw on a big heavy sweater instead. So it’s something that I need to keep in mind too. Sometimes I forget to bring my gloves and I’m pumping gas at the gas station and really wishing I had remembered to put my gloves in the car. So just a reminder because sometimes it’s not on our radar to consider those things.

Another solution is to improve the indoor air. When the indoor air is so dry, it can be really uncomfortable because, again, we’re spending most our time indoors during the winter. So adding a humidifier or a vaporizer can be really helpful. I have a small vaporizer that I just added to my work space a few weeks ago and it makes a huge difference in the comfort of my office. The air was super dry and was irritating to my nose until I got it. And I just turned on my humidifier at home, which I probably should have done a week or two ago. My nose was starting to feel funny while I was sleeping and made me realize how dry it was in the house. The humidity has only gone up a couple percentage points since starting it up, but it’s much more comfortable in the house and my nose doesn’t have that funny feeling overnight.

We also have a wood stove so we keep a pan full of water on it. It doesn’t add enough humidity when both the heat and the wood stove are running, so the humidifier adds the extra humidity we need to be comfortable.

Also, using a mild soap can make a huge difference. A lot of people use harsh soaps in the shower or for washing hands, which just further irritate and dry out your skin. My favorite bar soap is Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil Bar. It’s very, very gentle and non-toxic (I want everything I use to be non-toxic so I’m not adding chemicals to my body as I go).

My favorite liquid hand soap is P2 Probiotic Power, I Clean Every Inch Face, Hand and Body Wash. It’s antimicrobial and is very different than antibacterial soaps. It cleans in a much more gentle way. I met the woman who owns this company a few years ago when we had a conversation on the phone about her products. I was finishing her sentences and was very excited about this technology that’s meant to disrupt bio-films. These products are not antibacterial, as they don’t have chemical agents. Instead, they disrupt bio-films. Bio-films allow microbes to hide and thrive, so by disrupting them, microbes of all sorts (not just bacteria, but viruses, fungi, parasites, anything like that) are killed because it essentially washes away their protective mechanism. So it’s much more antimicrobial than antibacterial soaps alone, and is non-toxic so it doesn’t have chemicals, antibacterial agents, and things that can be problematic for your body. So this is a great product that I love. We use it as hand soap but you can use it as shower soap too.

Another trick is to only wash what’s needed. This might be surprising to some, but I think we tend to over wash. Years and years and years ago, we would have been bundled up in clothing all winter long and would not have had as much access to showering during those months, the way that we do now. So we would have had a lot of natural oils on our skin that would have protected us from the dryness of this time of the year. Over washing your skin can be a real problem, so only wash what’s necessary. “Pits and bottoms” is my approach! Obviously if you work out a lot and you sweat head to toe, then you’re going to need to be more thorough with your cleanser, but if you’re just going back and forth to work, or doing normal activities, then all of your skin doesn’t need to be washed on a daily basis. So just keep that in mind.

And moisturize too! Some people are funny about moisturizer and feel that it’s “not normal”, but the things that we’re exposed to aren’t normal either. So you can do a head to toe moisturizer if you really feel that it’s necessary, or just use it as needed. My arms and lower legs get super dry if I don’t use moisturizer on a day to day basis when I get out of the shower. And I also use lotion extensively on my hands because I’m in and out of water all day long washing my hands, whether I’m at home cleaning or even more so when I’m at the office and washing hands in between clients. My favorite lotion is California Baby Super Sensitive Everyday Lotion. I love it because it’s non-greasy, it absorbs very quickly and it’s really moisturizing. I’m sure there are lots of other great products on the market as well, those are just my particular favorites.

The other thing that tends to get super dry on me in the winter is my cuticles. When they get dry they get kind of hard and I’ll pick at them mindlessly, which of course will irritate them even further. So I try to be really mindful when I’m putting lotion on, to get it into my cuticles. I’ll try to put some extra heavier cream on them before I go to bed, at least a couple nights a week, and I keep an emery board near where I sit at night to unwind. If they’re starting to get dry, I’ll actually file them down some with the emery board which will keep me from picking at them.

So I hope that your skin isn’t bothering you and that you’ll take measures in order to protect it so that it doesn’t! But if it’s already feeling dry for you, I hope these tips and tricks will be helpful for you.

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