While skin deserves preserving treatments year-round, there’s no better time to give your face total TLC than during the winter months. The approaching cold season brings so many elements—frigid temperatures, brutal winds and extreme dryness—that can strip skin of its natural protectants. And in places like Colorado, where living at high altitude exposes skin to intense sun and unrelenting dry climate, caring for the sensitive face becomes an essential part of an everyday routine.
During winter, we’re also typically indoors more often and therefore exposed to plenty of dehydrating heat sources, from wood-burning fireplaces to electric forced air. Heat does our precious skin no additional favors. Faces can quickly become dry, tight, flakey, itchy, cracked, raw and red. In some cases skin is so inflamed by harsh winter elements (indoor and out) that it develops eczema, a tender condition that’s trickier to get rid of than dry skin.
Luckily, individuals have many options for consulting skincare professionals such as Denver’s Smith Cosmetic Surgery staff. Our skin technicians guide people of all ages with all different skin types through smart and effective skin-preserving routines. Typically our recommendations combine advanced, medical-grade skincare products; lifestyle skin-protection practices (i.e., wearing the right sunscreen and learning how to carefully clean and moisturize the face); and regular non-surgical rejuvenation procedures such as microdermabrasion and chemical peels. As you consider how best to safeguard yourself from the elements this winter, here are a few helpful ideas from Dr. Brent J. Smith, Denver’s foremost facial plastic surgeon.
Drink more water. Hydrating our bodies (including our faces!) from the inside out is crucial for maintaining healthy skin, head to toe. When we drink plenty of fluids, our bodies naturally flush toxins and replenish parched skin cells through natural biological systems. So rather than slathering on more moisturizer to make up for extra-dry winter skin, start by trying to drink an adequate amount of water (and eating as healthy as possible). One thing that’s tricky about water consumption in winter is it often doesn’t sound very inviting to drink cold filtered or tap water when we’re chilled. Instead, consider some creative ways to drink more water in the chilly season: heat up a mug of water and add a purifying lemon slice; add a splash of fruit juice like pomegranate, which is also a wonderful antioxidant; order an herbal tea instead of coffee at the drive-thru; or purchase an encouraging new hot-and-cold water container—and fill it before every car ride.
Encourage cell turnover. In the summer we sweat more, which helps initiate regular skin cell turnover. In the winter, we don’t sweat as much. When cells don’t turn over as often, skin becomes duller quicker and needs assistance to encourage cell renewal. This rejuvenation process in the epidermis layer of the skin also slows down as we age, which means older people get hit doubly hard in the winter. Fighting this process requires stimulating facial skin cells and manually removing “dead” layers, especially in the winter. In-office, non-surgical procedures such as laser resurfacing, chemical peels and microdermabrasion can be an ideal way to regularly retain that fresh, youthful look.
Up your antioxidants. There have been a lot of studies recently proving the effectiveness of antioxidants in preserving healthy skin over a lifetime. Much like vitamins, antioxidants are amazing supplements, many occurring naturally in “super foods” such as green tea and blueberries. When it comes to our skin, antioxidants work to combat free radicals that are known to damage our bodies and speed up the signs of aging. Antioxidants also help sunscreen to more effectively prevent damage from exposure during the day, and can promote cellular repair and healing when applied topically over night. One analogy for this process is the natural degradation of stainless steel. If you leave stainless steel out in the elements with no protection it will rust. But if you add a protective layer it doesn’t oxidize. That’s the magic of anti-oxidant!
Remember your retinol. If there is one external skincare product routinely recommended by facial plastic surgeons, dermatologists and skincare professionals, it’s the special antioxidant-rich, anti-aging retinol. This ingredient comes in different concentrations in over-the-counter products and prescription-strength applications, and is especially effective when used around the eyes to slow the advance of wrinkles. Smith Cosmetic Surgery has tested a wide range of cosmetic skincare lines and has selected specific medical-grade brands that deliver retinol in proper strengths to plump collagen-depleted skin and reduce the appearance of pore size. Retinol can be applied during and after non-surgical procedures such as microdermabrasion, which works to remove dead skin, exfoliate the face and motivate healthy new cells.
Are you prepared to face winter head on? Reach out to Smith Cosmetic Surgery with any questions related to skincare products and procedures that can help you look and feel healthier this season.