Combat Winter Skin

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Winter skin has a definite persona: it’s dry, itchy and can be far from pretty. Hands and feet are especially vulnerable to the effects of frigid temperatures, blustery winds and indoor heating, becoming dry and cracked. Frequent washing, while necessary to prevent the spread of germs, can also strip the skin of protective oils.

Beauty product developer Caren Singer, owner of Caren et Cie, a line of personal care and beauty treatment products, has a special reason to combat dry skin. She suffers from Raynaud’s disease, a condition that causes poor circulation and lack of blood flow to the fingers and toes.

For years, Singer’s hands were dry and uncomfortable no matter what the season, but it worsened in the winter. She was unable to find an effective over-the-counter moisturizer. So her husband, Harold, teamed with a chemist to develop custom products based on glycerine, vitamins and botanical extracts.

Even though it’s essential to find a moisturizer that’s gentle and effective, there are several beauty tips you can use to prevent dry skin and its damaging effects in the first place. Among Singer’s tried-and-true tips are:

Keep skin hydrated. Use an emollient hand treatment, especially one rich in glycerine, to moisturize dry chapped hands. Glycerine is a natural substance that absorbs moisture from the air and seals it in, letting the skin breathe without clogging pores.

Check your water temperature. Instead of using hot water, bathe or wash in tepid, warm water, and limit immersion time to 5 minutes. The hotter the water and the longer your skin is exposed to it, the more likely the skin’s natural oils will be removed and will leave your skin dry and cracked.

Pamper your skin. After bathing, apply a rich moisturizer. This helps lock in moisture to keep hands and feet soft and supple.

Fill up on H2O! Winter’s low temperatures and humidity levels create drier air. Such dryness is worsened by home and office heating systems. That’s why it’s essential to drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water daily to hydrate and soften skin. Avoid caffeinated beverages, which can also dry out the skin.

Cover yourself. Wear gloves when outside to protect your hands against the cold and to help avoid getting chapped skin. If your hands are not exposed to cold air, they will be less likely to become dry.

Humidify your environment. As the humidity drops indoors and outdoors, skin is prone to losing moisture. Singer recommends countering this effect by using a humidifier when you are sleeping. (Make sure that the humidifier is clean and the water is changed frequently.) You can also place water-filled pots near heating vents to increase moisture in the air.

Singer is proud that her hand creams and body treatments, which she has sold for 10 years, are extremely successful at healing, cleansing and protecting even the most sensitive skin. While anyone can use them, she says they have found a special niche with people whose skin is hypersensitive due to medical reasons, as well as healthcare providers who must frequently wash their hands.

By Lisa Mairorana