A Seasonal Skin Care Guide

BY JOANN PETASCHNICK

As the seasons change, so do the needs of your skin. Using the right products and doing the right things at the right time of year will keep your skin feeling fresh and looking great all year.

Winter
The cold and dry weather can be harsh on your skin. “In winter, people come in with what we call winter’s itch or asteatotic dermatitis. The problem is usually most severe in older people when the skin becomes very dry and cracked, but it can happen on the hands in younger people,” says Dr. James Berman, dermatologist with Forefront Dermatology in Glendale.

“As we get older, we have not only had sun damage, but the aging process itself causes thinning of the stratum corneum, the outmost layer of the epidermis, which is designed to hold in water. If the air is really cold and dry, there’s a tremendous gradient of water loss that you might have put into your skin to hydrate it, but it evaporates and results in dryness. Of course, if you’re dry, you get itchy and you have to take measures to try to repair it,” he says.

The concept is to rehydrate the skin, Berman says. “The first minute or two after getting out of the bath or shower, that’s the time to trap the water in before it has an opportunity to evaporate. There are many products, but I recommend products that have the ingredient ceramide, such as CeraVe moisturizing cream.  There are other good products out there, anything that helps repair the skin,” he says.

Chris Zajdel, co-owner of Skiin Anti-Aging Lounge in Waukesha, agrees that dry winter skin needs extra care.  “Fine lines become a little more apparent. We become a little more sensitive. For those of us who are rosacea-bound, it becomes a little more exacerbated because of the extremes in temperature,” she says.

“Our skin definitely takes more abuse, if you will, during the winter months. It’s common to switch to a cleanser that has more of an oil base; something that goes from an oil to foam is a very good choice through the winter months,” Zajdel says.  In addition, she suggests dry-brushing the skin to slough off dry skin cells. “Take a bath brush and vigorously brush the skin to remove dead skin cells. It’s also super good for circulation and moving lymph or removing toxins from the body.”

Zajdel also recommends using moisturizing makeup, lip products and body lotion. And don’t ignore the SPF (sun protection factor). “In the winter, people seem to think that the sun is not that intense, but it can still do damage during the colder months,” she says.  “You should be protected 24/7, no matter what the season is.”

Spring
As soon as spring arrives, you can begin to feel the sun’s rays getting stronger.  It’s time to prepare for the days when you’ll be exposing more skin in public.

Springtime can be an appropriate time to repair the skin, Berman suggests. “In my practice, a lot of people are coming in for treatment for photoaging or sun damage to the face, so they don’t look as old, hyperpigmented or wrinkled,” he says.  

Fortunately, treatments are plentiful for damaged skin. “There is an entire industry of so-called cosmeceuticals that all work with different mechanisms and actions to treat wrinkles and sun damage. And there are many dermatological advancements, namely light-based technologies, photodynamic therapy, laser therapy and micro-needling, among others,” Berman says.
In spring, like every season, people may experience a change in skin texture and condition, Zajdel stresses. “Those who are a little bit more oil-rich might feel like they are starting to produce a little more oil. They may start to see a visible shine, and working with oil-control ingredients can help,” she advises.

Sunscreen is as important in spring as it is in every season, according to Zajdel. “If you have not been using sun protection moving into spring and summer, then most definitely bring all your SPFs to the forefront of your cabinet,” she says.

Keep on exfoliating and hydrating for smoother skin in spring.  

Summer  
In summer, we spend lots of time outside, so sunscreen is essential. And if you really want that sun-kissed look, instead of heading to the tanning beds, use a spray tan or bronzer. To have great looking skin, you need to take a few summer-specific measures.

“If you haven’t already done so, bring out the products with protective properties. Along with that would be super antioxidant vitamin C. If you have not been using vitamin C on your face along with your SPF, you should start,” Zajdel says. Vitamin C is one of many antioxidants that can protect against damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals, as well as toxic chemicals and pollutants. It comes in many different forms in a variety of products.

And don’t forget the most important sunscreen advice: Use it. “The American Academy of  Dermatology recommends at least an SPF of 30 for most people. The sun protection factor represents the length of time you can stay out in the sun without burning, multiplied by the corresponding SPF number. So a person who would normally start to burn in 10 minutes could theoretically have 150 minutes of sun protection with a sunscreen that has an SPF of 15, or 300 minutes with an SPF of 30,” Berman says.  

The sunscreen protects against UVB rays, but what about UVA rays? “These are longer waves of light that, in the past year, we considered to be safe rays or tanning rays. That’s where tanning beds came in to play. But now we’re realizing that the UVA rays are more deeply penetrating and there’s reason to believe scientifically that they may be more causative of the development of everything from photoaging to malignant melanoma,” Berman explains. And remember to reapply sunscreen every two hours while in the sun.

Please don’t forget your feet, Zajdel says. “Summer is sandal season. Time to update your pedicure and do some deep exfoliation. Use a good foot cream with acids that will help to exfoliate the really tough skin on your feet and heels. It’s still OK to put a super moisturizer on the feet and wear a good pair of cotton socks to bed at night. Or use nature’s exfoliant and rub your feet in the sand for a while,” she recommends.

Fall
In fall it is essential to change your routine to enable your skin to recover from summer and set it up for the winter.  As the days grow shorter, the air becomes drier. Your skin tends to dry out too, so you should switch your products to add moisture back into your skin.

The best autumn skin care routines will help to correct any summer damage that has occurred and prepare your skin for winter.  This time of year can be an even better time to repair skin damage, Berman says. “Much of my cosmetic business comes in the summer as people are out in the sun and they see age spots and other problems. They want treatment at that point in time, which, to me is the toughest time. It’s sort of like swimming upstream when the current is strong, whereas if you come in late summer or fall, the current is less intense.”  
To sum up, watch your skin as the seasons change and see your skin care professional to check whether you must switch up your skin care products, or if you require any special treatments.

Prevention is best when it comes to skin care, Berman says. “Taking steps to prevent photoaging is probably the best way to go, but people typically don’t recognize it until they’re in their mid-40s. By then, they’ve probably damaged their skin to some extent, and then they spend a lot of time, effort and money trying to reverse it. Taking care of your skin is not seasonal; it’s a year-round job.”

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