by Margaret Murray

With the colder season, our skin tends to be overlooked. We worry about the sun throughout the summer but these months bring true challenges to keeping our skin feeling and looking its best. With some planning, your skin can look and feel great as you welcome the New Year.

Dry Skin
Lack of humidity in the winter is a real challenge. Dryness in the air means less moisture for our skin to absorb. The easiest way to ensure that your skin stays hydrated is to apply a good lotion within five minutes of a warm—not hot—shower or bath. Lotion works best if it contains little water. The pretty bottles with fun fragrances are primarily water-based and actually pull moisture from your skin, requiring more lotion and frequent application. Look for lotions that are hypoallergenic, fragrance-free and non-comedogenic.

Frequent Skin Blemishes
When the holidays arrive, we tend to make poor eating and drinking decisions. We get out of our good habits of eating apples and drinking bottles of water. We replace those habits with cookies, eggnog, and coffee with alcohol. These replacement foods are poor substitutes for our good diet. While we tend to experience heartburn and other problems chalked up as the “flu” or the “bug,” it is often our poor choices that cause our systems to become irregular. Our food choices will also be obvious in our skin. When we eat poorly, our skin develops blemishes that appear quickly and never seem to disappear. Stick with your healthy choices and treat yourself to the seasonal goodies, rather than replacing all of your good choices. Have a glass of water and a fruit or vegetable before heading to that holiday get-together.

Holidays are compressed into a six-week span during which we want to enjoy every moment, remember past happiness, and create wonderful memories for the future. This includes shopping, baking, budgeting, entertaining, cleaning, and working. This kind of stress can show in our skin’s health. Large rashes appear overnight causing us to slow down, take Benadryl, and call the doctor for even more help. Get ahead of that stress. Make a list early; what is most important to you and your family this year? Is it nice lighting display? Is it a cookie exchange? By choosing the most important items, you allow yourself to enjoy those activities and not feel compelled to go to every mall, to try all new recipes, and to make all dreams come true. Being relaxed and present for others is the best gift you can give. Your skin will thank you too.

The sister to rashes is the allergic reaction. Many people are allergic to pine—the heart of Christmas. If you get itchy at the holidays, consider the tree. If you have food allergies, make sure you bring a dish to parties you can enjoy and consider letting the hosts know of any serious food allergies which may be hidden in casseroles or dips. Do not wait for hives to ruin a party. Plan ahead.

Flaky Skin
With dry weather, our skin tends to shed. Moisturize your skin but also wash your skin gently with an appropriate skin cleanser. You might want to scrub your skin with soap and a washcloth. For soft and dewy skin, opt instead for a gentle cleanser, like Cetaphil, and softly wash. If you really want to exfoliate, use a mild exfoliant, a soft cloth with warm water, and a thick moisturizer. S

Sore Feet
During sandal season, we work to keep our soles smooth and clean. But winter boots and moisture wreak havoc for our feet. Take care of your feet with a pumice stone in the shower and moisturizer at night so your soles will be less likely to crack. Your feet may not be on display, but they will treat you well while you trudge through the snow or the mall.

Cracked Hands
Get your gloves ready before you go outside. Place them by the back door or store them in your coat. Put them on before you go outside. Antibacterial gel is important but the alcohol in it dries our skin. After use, apply a good hand cream, like Aveeno. Keep lotion in your cup holder and apply when en route to work. Put your gloves back on to seal in the moisture.