3 Skincare Habits You Should Break This Winter

Photo: ThinkstockPhoto: ThinkstockLong, Hot Showers and Baths

A steamy soak on a cold day might feel great, but hot water will dry your skin, says Heidi Waldorf, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Steam from the water opens your pores, which allows the moisture and natural oils to escape. To prevent this, shower with lukewarm water and apply body lotion to damp skin. If you can't skip baths altogether, stay in the tub no more than ten minutes and use bath oil, not bubble bath (which contains detergents that can strip skin's natural oils).

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Photo: ThinkstockPhoto: ThinkstockIgnoring Your Cuticles and Nails

Like your skin, your cuticles and nails lose moisture in the winter. If you don't hydrate them daily, nails can crack and split, becoming more vulnerable to bacteria and fungus, says Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins Hospital Center. During the day, whenever you can, apply lotion after you wash your hands; stay away from alcohol-heavy hand sanitizers. At bedtime, rub a thick cream (like Sally Hansen Cuticle Massage Cream, $6; drugstores) on the cuticles of your hands and feet.

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Photo: ThinkstockPhoto: ThinkstockExfoliating Dry Skin

Because dry and scaly skin is irritated and inflamed, exfoliating will worsen the problem, says Jeffrey Dover, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University School of Medicine. Instead, use a creamy facial cleanser and body wash to gently dissolve oil and dirt. If the rough patches are on your face, avoid lotions that contain heavy fragrances (which can irritate skin) and chemical exfoliants (like glycolic acid and retinol). Choose a face cream for sensitive skin with soothing ingredients like chamomile. For body, a lotion that contains humectants (like hyaluronic acid) and emollients (like shea butter) draws moisture to your skin and locks it in.

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