News flash: Your face is wayyy more vulnerable to the cold after you exercise. We have your go-to plan to save your skin this winter
Now that winter is in full force, you've likely switched up your skin care routine and added some winter-friendly products to ward off dry, flakey skin. But if you aren't giving your skin extra love post-sweat sesh, you should be.
It all starts with sweat. Of course, it's a crucial function for cooling down and also detoxifying your body while you work out. You break a sweat, and (poof!) toxins trapped in your pores are released. Problem is, the also means your pores are more open, leaving your skin sensitive and more exposed to harsh conditions once you step outside, explains Julie Russak, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologist.
Plus, your skin becomes drier once the sweat evaporates, says Ava Shamban, M.D. a LA-based dermatologist. "Cold weather will dry out your skin even more, causing cracked, chapped skin," says Shamban. (Concerned? Check out these 8 skincare secrets from winter athletes.)
And in the same way that exposure to the sun without proper SPF can cause serious damage, exposure to harsh winter air without protection weakens your skin's barrier (that's the outermost layer of your skin responsible for keeping water and nutrients in, and protecting the skin from environmental factors and bacteria), causing dryness, inflammation, and irritation. Over time, this inflammation leads to the destruction of your skin's collagen and elastic tissue, which can cause redness, uneven skintone, and yes—fine lines and wrinkles, Russak says. Yikes.
If you're simply sprinting to your car after spin class, you don't need to worry as much, says Russak. But if you need to walk 10 blocks in extremely cold weather post-workout? You really need to take extra precautions.
As you would any time of the year, it's crucial to wash your face before working out to remove bacteria, dirt, and makeup, which can be absorbed into your skin while you sweat (especially if you favor evening workouts), Russak explains. Then, after you've finished your workout, be sure to wash or wipe your face with a facial cleansing cloth both to keep your pores from getting clogged and to remove the salt and bacteria left on the surface of the skin that can cause major irritaiton.
When it comes to keeping skin happy in the winter, this next step is key: remove all signs of sweat/water left on your skin. You want your face to be totally dry before applying moisturizer and heading out into those fridig temps. As for the moisturizer itself, Russak recommends three ingredients (that occur naturally in the skin and deplete as we age) to protect against moisture loss and strengthen your skin.
First up: Hyaluronic acid. Naturally produced by the body, this sugar present in our connective tissue provides continuous moisture to the skin by binding up to 1000 times its weight in water. Hyaluronic acid not only helps your skin retain moisture, but it also keeps it firm and supple, and slows signs of aging.
Next: Ceramides and cholesterol. Both are crucial in protecting against moisture loss and defending against environmental stress. Apply them topically to help strengthen your skin's barrier and prevent dehydration and irritation.
Some picks ideal for cold temperatures:
1. Cerave PM boasts ceramides, as well as niacin, to help combat all that cold and wind-induced redness. ($10; amazon.com)
2. Glossier Priming Moisturizer contains hyaluronic acid, along with a mix of tea and honey extracts to reduce redness while calming inflammation. ($25; glossier.com)
3. SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 gel uses hyaluronic acid to bind moisture to the skin, plus B5, which is essential for skin barrier repair function. ($78; skinceuticals.com)
4. Kiehl's Super Multi-Corrective Cream contains a form of hyaluronic acid that deeply penetrates the skin to replenish water reserves. It also has jasmonic acid to help correct fine lines and keep skin supple. ($62; kiehls.com)
5. Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber De-Tox is a gel-cream that forms an invisible shield of protection on the skin with both hyaluronic acid and cucumber, which helps to soothe, calm, and detoxify. ($48; peterthomasroth.com)
Want more? Check out these 12 Beauty Products for Gorgeous Winter Skin.