There’s always that point in January when you catch sight of yourself in some unfortunately lit mirror and, shocked by flaky skin and brittle hair, you vow to switch out the lotions and conditioner you’ve been using since August.
But why wait until that breaking point? “The first time you turn your central heating on, that’s your cue to change your routine,” says Dr. Jessica Wu, a Los Angeles dermatologist and author of Feed Your Face. “Once winter actually hits, skin is dry and itchy and more difficult to get under control.” Another reason to take preventative measures: Chronic inflammation (e.g. dry patches and itchy spots) could damage collagen production, making wrinkles more likely down the road.
As for your hair, “think of it as a houseplant,” says Charlie Brackney, owner of Haus Salons and Blowdry! Blowdry Bar, in Minneapolis, “It’s much easier to maintain consistent moisture levels than to bring it back to life once it’s dead.” Wu and Brackney share their tips for stopping chapping, flaking and frizz before they start.
Make a Pre-emptive Strike Against Dryness
To keep itchy patches from popping up on knees, elbows or shins, “start by switching out your bar soap—which can strip skin of natural oils—for a moisturizing body wash,” Wu advises. After showering and before bed, apply a body butter, which absorbs better than lotion. Both Ellovi Vanilla Butter and Camille Beckman Body Butter contain shea butter, an occlusive that prevents water from evaporating from skin. Hot water can remove skin’s natural moisture, so make sure your showers are lukewarm.
Let Masks Work Their Magic
You’ll never see lackluster January skin if you find a moisturizing mask that works for you—and leave it on overnight. “Some people are afraid to leave masks on while they sleep because they think they’ll break out, but it’s a great thing to do if you’ve spent a long day outside,” Wu says. For sensitive skin, Wu likes Origins’ Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask, which is infused with rich avocado and apricot oils to hydrate parched skin and Japanese seaweed to restore its natural moisture barrier. If you’re in a rush to enliven dull skin, Liz Earle’s Brightening Treatment Mask nourishes and revitalizes your complexion in just two minutes.