4 Ways to Treat Damaged Winter Hair

Here are four tips to help your damaged winter hair look and feel healthier.

It’s been a rough winter for most of the country. When you’ve got arctic temperatures and gusting winds you’ve also got low humidity in the air. And low humidity not only dries out your skin but also dries out your hair. If your hair is feeling dry and brittle and is seeking the summer warmth, then read on.

Here are four tips to help you repair your damaged winter hair:

1. Reduce shampooing. Shampooing every second or third day will allow natural oils to remain on your hair and scalp and prevent further drying.

2. Go deep. Once to twice a week, massage a deep conditioner into your hair and scalp and let it rest as you shower. Then rinse with warm water. For extremely dry hair, try using a leave-in deep conditioner or conditioning hair mask that you apply before bedtime and rinse the following morning. Be sure to wear a hair net and to place a towel on your pillow so you don’t stain your bed sheets.

3. Go natural. Using hair dyers and other heating devices take a toll on your hair. When possible, allow your hair to air-dry, but aim for at least once to twice a week.

4. Cool off. Some women who chemically treat their hair (think highlights) and use heating devices regularly (think flatirons), develop trichorrhexis nodosa, or hair breakage. Once hair is broken, you can’t fix it. You can minimize additional damage by reducing usage of heating devices. Try every second or third day instead of every day.

Photo credit: FCC, Philmoore47

Tips for Preventing and Treating Dry, Cracked Hands

Tips on how to prevent and treat dry, cracked hands in wintertime.

Young girl in Red Cross uniform

When I went to shake my patient’s hand the other day, she reciprocated with a gloved hand. It was 70 degrees out and sunny.

“Are you OK?” I asked.

“My hands are such a mess, I’ve resorted to wearing gloves,” she said.

After coaxing her to remove her gloves, I saw why she was dismayed. The skin on her hands was red, chafed, and cracked. She didn’t have a skin disease. She had extremely dry skin.

She’s not alone. In wintertime as temperatures drop, the relative humidity in the air also drops causing moisture to evaporate more quickly on your skin, leading to dry skin. In some cases, the skin becomes chapped (like chapped lips), cracks, and bleeds. While not dangerous to your health, it can be painful and frustrating. I assure you, there’s help!

Let’s start with how to keep your hands moisturized and healthy. You can help prevent dry, cracked hands by:

1. Using warm, not hot water to wash your hands.

2. Using gentle moisturizing soaps with softening ingredients such as glycerin or lanolin, not harsh bar soaps that strip natural oils off your skin.

3. Applying moisturizer after every hand wash while hands are still damp and gently pat dry.

4. Using hand gel sanitizers that are less drying than soap and water.

Already got dry hands? Here are 4 tips for treating dry, cracked hands:

1. Nighttime deep moisturizing: When you sleep, your hands get a break from the daily beating they take from water, wind, soap, and anything else that can irritate them. And since you sleep 7-8 hours (You do, don’t you?), your skin has time to  heal. You don’t need expensive designer moisturizers. Any moisturizing cream will do. Look for ingredients such as dimethicone or glycerin which lock moisture in the skin. Many creams are thicker and oiler than lotions, so they’re preferable for nighttime use.

You can also use plain ol’ petrolatum (Vaseline petroleum jelly) or all-natural olive oil. Coat your hands thoroughly, rubbing in the product around nails and cuts. Then cover your hands with cotton gloves (or even soft socks). You’ll notice a marked improvement when you wake up the next morning. Do this as often as needed until your hands are healed. It can take up to 2 weeks for badly chapped skin to heal completely.

2. Make friends with gloves. Wear gloves at all times when you’re outdoors. That includes when you’re running from your car to your office, when you’re carrying in the groceries, and when you’re pumping gas. Covered skin is protected skin.

You must also wear gloves when cooking, washing dishes, or doing any type of cleaning. Yes, it’s inconvenient, but it works. The more you wet and dry your cracked hands, the longer they will take to heal. And harsh chemicals found in many cleaners can exacerbate your already chapped, painful skin. I recommend wearing cotton-lined rubber gloves, such as Mr. Clean Bliss Gloves, which won’t make your hands sweat. You can even apply lotion to your hands before you put on the gloves for added protection and moisturization. Even better, tell your spouse, kids, or significant other that you can’t cook or clean for a week or more until your hands begin to heal. When they balk, simply say, “Doctor’s orders.”

3. Replace lotions with creams. Switch from thinner lotions to thicker moisturizing creams which create a protective barrier on your skin. Any OTC moisturizing cream will do; just look for ones containing petrolatum, shea butter, mineral oil, lanolin, or dimethicone which help prevent water evaporation on your skin. I like Eucerin Intensive Repair Hand Cream, and Neutrogena Hand Cream (just remember to splash water on your hands before applying the Neutrogena cream for optimal absorption).

When to seek treatment?

If your hands are itchy, bleeding, and painful and aren’t responding to OTC treatments, then see your doctor.

How about you? Do you have any tips for treating dry, chapped hands? If so, please share them in the comment section below.

Photo credit: FCC, Powerhouse Museum Collection

7 Ways to Get Your Skin Ready for Fall and Winter

With winter’s arrival comes dry, damaged skin. Here are seven tips to help keep your skin healthy this winter.

walking in snow

I know I’m in New York not because of the pretzels and bright lights but because my skin is dry. Living in San Diego has made me soft.

Summertime means humidity, and few people like humidity. But your skin loves it because humidity prevents it from drying out.

With winter’s arrival comes humidity’s departure. The air becomes cooler and drier, and your skin doesn’t react well. It becomes dry, irritated, and damaged.

Here are 7 tips for keeping your skin healthy this fall and winter:

1. Wash wisely: Use a moisturizing body wash such as Dove Body Wash made with Nutrium Moisture, 100% natural moisturizers that actually puts moisture back into your skin.

2. Take a short shower: Keep showers under 5 minutes and use warm water, as hot water removes healthy oils from your skin.

3. Go omega: Eat more foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, halibut, and flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil is the highest in omega-3 fatty acids of all vegetable oils which helps keeps your skin soft and prevents it from drying out.

4. Rev up your vitamins: Vitamin E is critical for protecting and repairing skin. Good food sources of vitamin E include almonds, walnuts, avocados, and sunflower seeds. Vitamin C-packed berries such as blueberries and raspberries help keep collagen healthy and reduce free radicals that cause aging.

5. Cover up. Exposed skin is susceptible skin. When outdoors in the cold and wind, wear gloves, scarves, and hats to keep skin protected.

6. Stay protected: Unless it’s dark and stormy, keep using your broad spectrum sunscreen SPF 30. Just because summer’s over, doesn’t mean the sun can’t still do damage. It’s always safer to stay protected.

7. Clean house: Toss any sunscreens, lotions, or make-up that’s been damaged from the summer heat—melted foundations, clumpy mascara, funky smelling creams. It’s not worth risking a skin infection. Plus, it’s an excuse to go shopping.

Photo credit: FCC, zoetnet

Disclosure: I have been a consultant to UniLever, the company that makes Dove, since 2011. I’ve been using Dove since I was 11.

Shampoo Your Hair, Not Your Body

Cold, dry air and indoor heating make winter the season for dry skin. It’s more important now than any other time of year to protect your skin from dryness. The first way to do this is to limit the damage you do to your skin everyday. Some things, like the weather, you cannot control. But, some of the things you do everyday to your skin might be making already dry skin much worse. One area where you can make a big difference is in the shower. Continue reading “Shampoo Your Hair, Not Your Body”