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Expert Q&A: The Real Secrets to Super Soft Skin This Winter

Sarah Carrillo

Posted 01/05/12 at 05:19PM by Sarah Carrillo

I love this season of pumpkin-spice lattes and cute puffy jackets just as much as the next gal. But when I catch a glance at my dry hands and scaly legs, I start to pine for warmer, balmier days. And so do you, based on the hundreds of you writing in about how to deal with dry winter skin. That's why I asked New York City-based dermatologist Kavita Mariwalla, MD, to answer some of your most pressing questions. Here's what she had to say.

Q: During the colder months I develop redness and cracking in my knuckles and hands. Lotion isn't helping. Can you recommend something else? -- Heather G., Ohio

A: If lotion isn't cutting it, try a heavier hand moisturizer in a cream or ointment formula, which will hydrate your skin more effectively, says Mariwalla. (I'm currently addicted to SpaRitual Handprint Hydrating Hand Salve, $38, which is luxuriously thick and doesn't leave a greasy film that most heavy creams and ointments do.) Also, don't forget to wear your gloves! That will go a long way toward helping to protect your hands from drying out in the cold weather. Finally, instead of washing your hands with soap and water, swap every other wash with a hand sanitizer with added moisturizers.

Q: Is it possible that my skin type changes with each season? I typically have oily skin, but in the winter I tend to have a bit more dryness, especially around my nose. Does this mean I have combination skin? -- Ashley W., New York

A: There are four basic skin types, says Mariwalla: normal, oily, dry, and combination. Oily skin is characterized by prominent pores and having a shine to the skin; dry skin often feels tight and may have visible signs of flakes; normal skin feels smooth and has minimal oil or flaking; and combination skin has both oily and dry areas. For the most part, your skin type won't change regardless of the season. But if you're seeing scaling, irritation, and redness around your nose, laugh lines, and eyebrows in the winter months, you may have seborrheic dermatitis, a medial condition that can be treated with a prescription cream. See your derm if you think this might be the case for you.

Q: I'm avoiding long, hot showers to try to keep my skin more hydrated this winter. Is this a smart move? -- Trisha R., New Mexico

A: While you may think hot showers are a big reason your skin feels so dry in the winter, recent studies show they may not be so bad after all. So go ahead -- enjoy that steamy shower. Just make sure to moisturize immediately after getting out, says Mariwalla. Towel-dry your skin and then put on a rich moisturizer or body oil when your skin is still slightly damp. We love Carol's Daughter Almond Cookie Body and Bath Oil, $20.

Q: Every winter the skin around my nose gets red and dry, and I can't even cover it up because my makeup catches in the cracks and flakes off. Most lotions I use just make my noise oily. Help! -- Valerie B., Minnesota

A: The skin around the nose is very sensitive and can easily become red and irritated, especially in the winter, says Mariwalla. Use an over-the-counter calming moisturizer, like Olay Quench Therapy Skin Repair Concentrate, $14.99. Another smart move: Make sure you're washing your face with a mild soap, as more powerful cleansers may be further irritating the area. If your red, chapped nose still persists, use a humidifier in your bedroom during the night. Indoor heating can really dry out your skin all over, so it will help put some moisture back into your skin while you sleep.
And the survey says...
1-6 of 13 Comments

  • Posted by GigiSD on 03/13/13 at 09:36pm

    Excellent tips in this piece!

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  • Posted by EricaC123 on 12/26/12 at 02:59pm

    Nice info

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  • Posted by hiddenexpose on 08/21/12 at 08:43pm

    Very helpful. Now I can go and drain all the hot water from the tank with a nice long hot shower :)

    Report Abuse

  • Posted by isa_bella04 on 07/02/12 at 03:49pm

    Nothing better then getting a trusted answer for your questions!!

    Report Abuse

  • Posted by beautybody on 03/25/12 at 08:44pm

    Nothing is worse than your skin flakes on your face and your makeup doesn't go on smoothly.

    Report Abuse

  • Posted by powerwoman033 on 03/12/12 at 10:02pm

    Woo Hoo, I can still take my hot baths in the winter!

    Report Abuse

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