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Protect your skin from weather whiplash

Find out how to care for your skin when it's a polar vortex one day and sunny the next.

Teenage Girl Wearing Warm Winter Clothes And Hat In Studio With a little moisturizing, your skin will glow even on the most bitter winter days.
Credit: Colourbox

One day it's a polar vortex and the next it's 50 degrees out, and your skin is suffering as a result. "This type of weather wreaks havoc on our skin," says Dr. Doris J. Day, aclinical assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center. "It's hard to recover because the weather changes so quickly, even sometimes from morning to afternoon."

Day says the key is protecting against the worst of the temperatures — biting wind and bitter cold — while still wearing SPF to protect skin from the sun. Here, she shares more helpful tips.


Limit the hot showers. When it's freezing out, a hot shower is the ultimate indulgence. Unfortunately, they aren't great for your skin. "A hot shower really dries out your skin and takes out your natural oils, which isn't healthy," Day says. Her advice is to stick with warm showers instead of boiling hot ones and to moisturize as soon as you get out, when your skin is still damp.

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.That brings us to her second big tip: moisturizing. A light lotion may be all you need when the weather isn't crazy, but your skin needs heavier armor to protect itself from drastic highs and lows. "Use a richer, heavier moisturizer on your body and on your face, use a cream at night and a moisturizer in the morning," Day recommends. Even if you're prone to breakouts, there are moisturizers marketed specifically to people with oily skin, so you can still get the hydration you need without worrying about pimples.

Dress in layers."If you dress only for the cold and then it warms up, or you go inside where it's warm and you start sweating, that change in temperature can be stressful on your skin," Day says. Dressing in layers you can put on and take off easily keeps your core body temperature stable, preventing skin freak-outs.

Don't forget your lips.Keep a lip balm in your pocket or bag at all times because it protects your lips no matter what the weather is like. As Day points out, your lips can get wind-burned or sunburned, so a lip balm with SPF is always a good idea.

Use a hair mask twice a week.Chaotic weather doesn't just mess with your skin — it dries out your hair, too. Day advises locking in moisture with a hair mask two to three times a week. "This time of year, we're also blow-drying our hair more than we do when it's warmer and we can let it air dry, so a hair mask also restores hair from heat tools," she says.

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence

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