January in Washington is no picnic. The days are short, the winds are freezing, and Mad Men won’t be back for another two months. Along with your cheery outlook on life, your skin can also take a beating during the colder months. We asked Dr. Howard Brooks, medical director at Georgetown Skin, for his tips on saving face (and body) this winter.
Take a Cold(er) Shower
Just as central heating can dry out your sinuses, luxuriating in a scalding shower, awesome as it may feel, will dry out your skin. Dr. Brooks recommends dialing back the temperature to “just as warm as you can tolerate.” And you might want to swap out your body wash, too; formulas with fragrance are extra parching, explains Brooks. He recommends gentle formulas, such as those from Cetaphil, Neutrogena, and Dove, which are great if you have sensitive skin.
Obvious, yes, but effective. Brooks recommends switching to a richer formula (again, unscented) that’ll have some staying power. “After you get out of the shower, don’t dry off completely; stay a little damp and put a moisturizer on then,” he says. His favorite brands are Cetaphil (“the lotion or the cream”), CeraVe, and Eucerin. And if chronic hand-washing to stave off catching that inevitable cold has left your mitts in worse shape than the rest of you, try keeping a small container of hand cream at your desk or in your purse; Brooks even suggests coating your hands in Vaseline and sleeping in cotton gloves.
Don’t Forget Sunscreen
Sun? What sun? Though it may seem counterintuitive, it’s just as important to protect yourself from UV rays during the winter gloom as it is in the height of summer. Brooks recommends a formula with a minimum SPF of 15. Try a non-comedogenic formula, such as Neutrogena Healthy Defense, which won’t cause breakouts—and don’t forget about your ears or hands.
Brooks’s other tip: Drink lots of water, so you stay hydrated from the inside out. If none of the above remedies work, or if you suffer from psoriasis or eczema, which can be exacerbated during the winter, visit a dermatologist.