As a dermatologist in Lincoln, Nebraska, Ann Lott, M.D., has seen her share of patients with typical winter skin woes: flaking, windburn, chapping. But as an all-season runner who's completed 26 marathons, she's exposed her own face (not to mention her body) to some pretty brutal conditions, too. The key to weathering it all, Lott says, is to create a barrier between your skin and the rest of the world. In the winter, skin produces less oil just as humidity in the surrounding air plummets, so you're losing moisture when you have little to spare. Factor in a little wind, and you've got an idea of the battle your face is fighting.
Layering on the right products can insulate and protect your skin. Diane L. Whitaker-Worth, M.D., a dermatologist at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington and an avid cross-country skier, suggests starting out with a very gentle cleanser such as Cetaphil. Next, if you're heading outdoors, smooth on a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection, which means it deflects both UV-B and UV-A radiation. UV-A rays are equally strong year-round, and if you're at high elevation, the altitude and the reflective snow can deliver a UV-B-ray sunburn that's as intense as any you'd get in July. Lott uses a thick sunblock made with zinc oxide. If you use a lighter-formula sunscreen, top it off with moisturizer―"the thicker the better," Whitaker-Worth advises.
Safeguard your skin and lips from cold, windy weather with these heavy-duty moisturizers:
Kiehl's All-Sport "Non-Freeze" Face Protector spf 30 ($18.50). Inspired by world champion alpine ski racer Klaus Heidegger, this wax-based formula protects skin from sun, wind, and cold weather.
Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Moisturizing Lip Balm spf 15 ($1.40). This moisture-packed cocoa stick incorporates vitamin E to treat and prevent chapped, cracked, and wind-burned lips. Plus, it smells like hot chocolate.
L'Occitane Ultra Rich Body Cream ($38). This thick cream is packed with shea butter to moisturize the driest skin with no greasy residue.
Eucerin Itch-Relief Moisturizing Spray for Body ($7.85). If the damage is already done, find immediate relief with this soothing mist, packed with medicated menthol to ease the itch and dimethicone to moisturize.