5 Ways You’re Making Your Winter Dry Skin Worse

Photograph by Volha6622 via iStock.

We all know our skin gets dry in the colder months, so we turn up the humidifier, start using lotion more regularly, and carry ChapStick around in our pockets. But though we may be taking some preventative measures to avoid pealing, itchy skin, there are a number of habits we carry over from the summertime (and some that we don’t carry over) that do damage. Here are a few things to quit for the remainder of the winter months.

Taking showers that are too hot.

Everyone likes to take a steamy shower when it’s cold outside, but the excessively hot water strips the skin of natural oils and increases wintertime “itch.” It is better to use warm water and moisturize the skin immediately after or during the shower with an in-shower moisturizer to lock in the hydration.

Shaving with the same products.

Winter is the time to switch to shaving cream for sensitive skin to increase hydration. If you’re using the same old cheap shaving cream from the warmer months, the risk of developing irritation and a rash is much higher. I recommend ones with colloidal oatmeal.

Not using cuticle cream.

Nails dry out terribly in the winter so if they are not given extra protection with a nourishing cuticle cream, they will crack and split, which increases your risk of nail infection. The best ones have shea butter in them.

Neglecting your feet.

Though we typically think of pedicures during beach season, the natural exfoliating properties of walking around barefoot are not sloughing off the dead skin. If the heels are allowed to get too thick in the winter, the skin fissures develop deep cracks, which is painful and potentially a source for bacteria to get in. Look for a foot cream with urea to help dissolve the thickened skin and moisturize at the same time.


All women know that a sunburn is bad for their skin, however few realize that windburn can also wreak havoc on facial skin, especially for patients with ruddy, sensitive or rosacea-prone skin. I see so many women in my practice in the winter who develop skin sensitivity and a facial rash after getting too much wind exposure. The solution: cover your face, up to your eyes, with a scarf when walking around outside in the winter–especially if hitting the slopes.

Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi is Founder and Director of Capital Laser & Skin Care and Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the George Washington Medical Center.

Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi is a board-certified dermatologist and co-director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Surgery.