Baby, it's cold outside. And gray. And dreary.
Yes, the winter doldrums are upon us. But the snowy season doesn’t just do a number on your psyche—it can also take its toll on your appearance, causing your hair and skin to look dull, drab and dry.
“The cold air outside combined with the hot air inside is like a double whammy,” says Tina Alster, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in Washington D.C. and expert with the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS). “Anytime the humidity in the air is low, the moisture levels in your skin, hair and nails will be low, too.”
Plus, chilly wind can irritate skin and weaken its outermost layer, making it easier for moisture to escape, adds Robert Anolik, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and ASDS expert based in New York City.
But there's good news: These easy, expert-approved beauty tricks can help you reclaim that soft and healthy glow—and you can do each of them in five minutes flat.
Feet already tend to be dry, and cold weather can exacerbate dehydrated soles and cracked heels. To help get them soft, slather on the thickest lotion or moisturizer you can find before bed. Then put on thin cotton socks and wear them while you sleep.
The socks act as an occlusive barrier, sealing in moisture all night long, Dr. Alster says, adding, “If you have cracks, go for a greasier ointment, which tends to be even more intensive than a cream or lotion.”
Even if you are good about using gloves, winter’s dry air can be tough on nails and the surrounding skin. To help alleviate painful, ragged cuticles, massage a little lip balm onto them.
“I do this all the time,” Dr. Alster says. “The thick consistency of a balm not only moisturizes, but also helps those frayed cuticles stay together.”
For a quick way to slough dry lips, mix a dollop of honey with a pinch of sugar in the palm of your hand and gently rub it onto your lips with a cotton swab. Rinse the mixture off, then seal the skin with a protective, hydrating lip balm.
The sugar acts as an exfoliant, scrubbing away the dead skin. Meanwhile, honey is a humectant, so it draws moisture into the skin, Dr. Anolik explains.
Just like the rest of your body, the skin on your scalp can get dry and flaky in the winter. You can gently slough away dandruff (and product buildup) by adding a teaspoon of fine granulated sugar to the amount of shampoo you normally use to wash your hair.
Massage your scalp with the pads of your fingertips. The granules will dissolve as you rinse (we promise!) and you’ll be left feeling flake-free.
In winter, super-low humidity can bring on a bad case of flyaway strands because hair develops an electric charge when it’s sapped of moisture, leading it to crackle like a live wire.
An easy fix: Poke the bristles of your hairbrush through a dryer sheet, then use it on your hair. The positively-charged sheet will help neutralize your charged hair the same way it does static cling in clothes.
When skin is already parched, water can further irritate and dry it out. So for the winter months, consider using a cream- or oil-based soap-free facial cleanser. Massage it onto your face, then tissue off, without using water.
The product will dissolve makeup and attract dirt away from skin, while leaving its oils intact, Dr. Alster says.
Hot water can dehydrate your skin, but taking a cool shower in the winter probably isn’t happening for you.
A simple solution? Smooth on body oil before you step under the steamy spray.
“Like a primer, it creates a shield to protect skin from the water,” Dr. Alster says. (That’s why you’ll see water beading up after you’ve applied the oil.) After you step out of the shower, slather on a body cream to lock in moisture while your skin is still damp.