Protect your skin from winter's ravages.

Credit: Mark Platt

Between the harsh weather outside and the blasting heat inside, your skin needs extra TLC during the colder months. Here are some quick pointers.

As Time Goes By

As it matures, your skin grows less able to protect itself from moisture loss. Start using a lotion containing sunscreen early, then follow these guidelines according to your age.

  • In your 30s: Add products with AHAs or retinol to your regimen to help prevent fine lines on your face and forestall age spots and loss of elasticity elsewhere.
  • In your 40s: Switch to a thicker, petrolatum-based formula for your body and to a product containing either glycerin or hyaluronic acid for your face.
  • In your 50s and beyond: With the onset of menopause, your skin's natural oil production stalls. Apply moisturizers with high levels of petrolatum more frequently.  

Arid Regions

Winter weather varies across the country, and so does the prevalence of problematic dry skin. In places with harsh winters, such as the Northeast and the Midwest, humidity levels plummet as central heating pumps out hot, dry air, and your skin ends up paying the price. Similarly, desert areas, like the Southwest, are more likely to produce dry skin than are humid areas, like the Southeast and the Pacific Northwest, says Jeffrey Dover, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine. To guard against dryness, Dover suggests using a humidifier in both bedroom and office. If that's not feasible, simply add a couple of plants to your surroundings. "The water in the leaves diffuses into the air and adds moisture," says Philadelphia-based dermatologist Susan C. Taylor.

What's in a Name?

These over-the-counter products not only look and sound medicinal but also are effective for treating dry skin.

Aquaphor Healing Ointment: A petrolatum balm for cracked lips or skin and minor cuts. It can also be used on babies' irritated skin.
Amlactin: A 12 percent lactic acid lotion to soften rough, dry skin on elbows and feet.
Cortaid Intensive Therapy Moisturizing Cream: A hydrocortisone cream for treating irritation and eczema, psoriasis, and seborrheic dermatitis on the body.