It’s inevitable that sometime between November and March, most people in the colder climates will experience some changes in the moisture level of their hair, skin, and nails. When the thermometer is hovering around the freezing mark, we’re fighting a tough battle with warm, dry indoor air and cold, dry outdoor air. All that dryness leads to some pretty annoying problems like itchy skin, brittle hair, and cracked nails. You can change all these conditions by following some or all of these ten little steps that will make a big difference.


Creative Commons/Felipe Skroski

Sunscreen makes you think about hot days at the beach, not sweaters and coats. But sunscreen isn’t just for summer. Rays from winter sun bounce off the snow and onto you, damaging your skin. Find a broad-spectrum sunscreen you like with an SPF that’s right for you and apply it to your face and hands—the most exposed parts in winter—30 minutes before going out. Reapply if necessary.

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That raspberry-almond-vanilla-jasmine lotion you bought last summer? We know you love it but you might want to temporarily ditch it. It’s just too thin for the tough, thick skin on your feet. Instead, try slathering petroleum jelly on your clean feet and put on a pair of socks. Wear the socks overnight, and in the morning admire your baby-soft tootsies. Petroleum jelly also works well on elbows and knees.

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Nothing feels better than a hot shower, especially on a cold winter morning. But hot water leads to the loss of your skin’s surface oils. Avoid it by taking a quick shower or bath with a mild soap in warm water. Your skin will thank you.

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Once you leave your not-hot shower, dry off quickly. Don’t rub your skin. Pat it dry to avoid friction and moisturize with a petroleum- or glycerin-based lotion. You’ve got about three minutes once you get out of the shower to apply the lotion. After that, your skin will have already dried out and lessens the lotion’s effectiveness.

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Coconut oil is a miracle worker. That’s right; the very same oil you use for your stir-fry works wonders on your hair, skin, and nails. A little goes far, so rub it on your skin in dime-size amounts. Coconut oil is greasy, but it absorbs quickly into the skin. You can also use coconut oil on the ends of frizzy hair. Or—for deeper moisturizing—apply it to your entire head of hair, cover it with a plastic cap for 30 minutes, then wash your hair. Rubbing a bit of coconut oil onto your nail beds and cuticles may help keep your nails moisturized, making them less likely to break.

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Humidifiers add moisture to the air. A little humidity in your house makes a huge difference in how you look and feel. Banish dry skin and hair and moisturize arid nasal passages by using a warm- or cool-mist humidifier. Keep it clean. You don’t want mold and bacteria being blown into the air.

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In addition to using a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo, try to deep condition your hair once a week. Look for a product that will re-hydrate hair and repair cold weather damage.



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Once you’ve moisturized yourself, you’ll still want to protect your hair, skin, and nails from the winter elements. Make it a habit to wear a hat and a pair of gloves when you go outside.

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You probably wear rubber gloves to protect yourself from household cleaners and detergents. But even the ones that don’t require the use of gloves can still sap your skin of moisture and leave them dry and irritated. Wear rubber gloves for all household cleaning.

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Health on the inside is reflected on the outside. Eat a balanced diet that contains lots of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats like those in walnuts, flaxseed, salmon, and olive oil can help skin cells stay hydrated.  Certain vitamins and nutrients like vitamin A, zinc, and essential amino and fatty acids are the building blocks of healthy hair, skin, and nails.

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Drink water because you love it. Drink water because it’s good for your overall well-being. Drink water because our bodies are mostly made of it. But don’t drink it because you think it will hydrate your skin or hair. It won’t. There are people who drink up to 12 glasses a day and still have dry skin. You would have to be severely dehydrated in order for water to make a serious difference in your skin.

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So do you have any weird or uncomfortable things that happen to you in the winter?  What do you do to prepare for them?  Please share with the class!

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Alexis Trass Walker lives in Gary, Indiana, with her husband and four children. She is a stay at home mom and writer who loves all things chocolate. After years of shyness, she is a recovering wallflower who understands that a smile goes a long way. Read more about Alexis on her website