Winter skin care tips

National Medical Director's Clinical Fellow at Bupa UK
08 November 2018

Ever notice that your skin feels drier as the cold days draw in? Or do you find yourself reaching for some more lip balm in a bid to keep those chapped lips at bay? Keeping your skin hydrated and healthy during the cold, windy, winter months can be challenging, as the humidity drops and the central heating goes up.  

Woman looking in the mirror

Our skin is our body’s largest organ, which acts as a barrier that keeps water inside our body. And when it’s dry and cold, water evaporates off our skin surface much faster, causing dryness.

Here are my top five tips for combating the winter elements, and keeping your skin feeling and looking good!

1. Use skin-friendly hydrating skin creams

Guidelines suggest that body moisturisers and emollients (moisturising treatments) are an important part of winter skin care, and can manage dry and scaly skin. They work by placing a protective barrier of oil on your skin to prevent water from escaping it, and add moisture to your skin to keep it hydrated.

When choosing which moisturiser to use, consider the points below.

  • Use a daily face moisturiser with SPF to provide your skin with some level of sun protection all year round.
  • Use body moisturisers with the least amount of artificial chemicals, as these generally work better for managing dry skin.
  • If you have really dry skin, ointments, such as petroleum jelly, can really help your skin to retain moisture, but may not be a popular choice because of their greasiness.
  • For people with red or inflamed skin, creams and lotions can be a better option. This is because they are made up of oils and water, and are easier to apply than ointments.

Depending on how dry your skin is, you may need to apply a cream or ointment more than once a day, and/or after going outside. Also be prepared to try a few different ones, until you find one that works best for you.

2. Limit your time in the bath and shower

Hot water can wash away the natural oils on your skin, causing it to dry out even more. So, it might be time to reduce those long soaks in the bath or hot, steaming showers, and take the temperature down to a lukewarm level.

When you step out of the shower or bath, it’s always a good idea to moisturise your skin straight afterwards.

3. Care for your chapped lips

Your lips are often the first casualty of cold weather, resulting in that all too familiar case of ‘chapped’ or ‘cracked’ lips. These can be painful and uncomfortable. As hard as it sounds, try to avoid licking your lips, and help seal in moisture by regularly applying lip balm containing petroleum jelly or beeswax.

4. Protect your skin indoors and outdoors

Central heating can be a major cause of dry skin as it removes a lot of natural moisture from our skin. So avoid resting exposed skin on warm radiators as it causes skin dryness, and in more extreme cases can even burn your skin. Or if you’re swapping the radiator for a hot water bottle, make sure you use one with a protective cover on it.

If like me, you’re tempted to grab the nearest woolly garment as soon as the temperature levels take a dip, you might want to think again. Some wool and fabrics can irritate and exacerbate dry and itchy skin. Try swapping your winter woollies for some soft, breathable clothing, such as cotton. When going outside in cold weather you can also protect your skin by wearing gloves.

5. Keep your moisture levels up

When it’s cold and dry, and the central heating is on, water evaporates more quickly around us, which can make our skin dryer. Using a humidifier in the home during winter can be another way to prevent dryness and replenish your skin, as it adds moisture to the atmosphere around you.

Try to also stay hydrated. During winter the temptation to drink water may be less, but it plays a key role in keeping your skin hydrated.

When should I seek professional help for dry skin?

Dry skin is generally not considered a health problem. But, if you think you might be at risk of dermatitis (inflammation of the skin) or rashes see your GP for advice.

Are you interested in learning more about your health? Discover more about our range of health assessments.

Dr Aamena Bharmal
National Medical Director's Clinical Fellow at Bupa UK

What would you like us to write about?


Bupa health insurance

Heart icon

Bupa health insurance aims to provide you with the specialist care and support you need, as quickly as possible. Find out how you could benefit.