Amy Newburger, M.D., is the director of Dermatology Consultants of Westchester in Westchester, NY, and author of the book Looking Good at Any Age. We asked her for advice on keeping skin healthy and youthful, naturally?especially in the fall and winter months when we spend more time in heated, dry environments, which can be damaging to our skin.
How can we take good care of our skin this fall and winter?
Fall and winter dry skin is skin that?s chapped, rough and hurts or stings sometimes when you wash it. To keep your skin looking and feeling healthier, use a gentler cleanser?you don?t want to make yourself vulnerable to the elements. Many of the new generation of skin cleansers have a lot of phospholipids in them; these will replace some of the natural lipids that are washed away, during the course of daily hygiene. You?re looking for glycerin, triglycerides, sunflower seed oil, ceramides and soy, among other things.
When you?re older, you produce fewer lipids [fats] in the skin than when you?re younger. This is especially true if you?re taking medication to lower your cholesterol. The older you are, and the more cholesterol medications you?re on, the more important it is to use some of the cleansers, rather than bar soaps. Avoid strong toners, too.
What are some common mistakes people make when it comes to dry skin?
When people see that their skin is rough and dry, they think it?s dead skin and that they have to exfoliate more often. So they take a grainy cleanser, loofah or go for microdermabrasion, to get rid of dead skin. But that compounds the problem. First you have to build up the skin?replace what?s missing, rebuild the barrier. How do you rebuild skin? Use soothing moisturizers that have many helpful ingredients. On labels, look for these ingredients: sodium PCA, phospholipids, glycosphingolipids and silicones.