Kenneth Beer, M.D. is a board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist in Palm Beach, Fla., and the director of, an online skincare company. He is also the director of The Cosmetic Bootcamp, which trains physicians in best practices for cosmetic medicine. Dr. Beer is an instructor in dermatology at the University of Miami, and he is an A.B. Duke Scholar at Duke University. He obtained his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and received his dermatology and dermatophathology training at the University of Chicago. Visit Dr. Beer's office at

Save Your Skin From the Cold

Friday, 21 October 2011 03:01 PM

As we head into winter, it is important to consider how the seasons require us to change what we do for your skin. One thing that is likely to no longer be needed is sun protection (unless you are outdoors in the snow).
Changing your daily moisturizer to a product that does not have sun protection (SPF) in it is likely to decrease the chances of irritating your skin. I recommend doing this in the winter. (I don’t believe in mixing sun protection with moisturizer because you end up compromising both—but that is another story.)
Many of my patients use various moisturizers in the summer months, but once we get into cool, dry months, I recommend using lotions that have a thicker emollient formulation. This is important because in the winter months the humidity decreases and your skin can lose moisture to the environment. By increasing the thickness of the cream you apply to your skin, you can provide a better barrier and seal in the moisture.
When showering in the winter I recommend not using extremely high water temperature, which can dry the skin more. It’s also important to apply moisturizer after bathing while the skin is still moist. Apply a thin coat of something with a barrier in it (petrolatum or silicone, for example). This will help to keep moisture in your skin while it is hydrated.
Moisturizers should be selected based on what they do, not how they smell. Look for the two ingredients listed above, petrolatum and silicone. Also keep an eye out for glycerin because it can soften your skin and attract water into it. Hyaluronic acid is another ingredient that attracts water. Squalane is a natural ingredient that can soften the skin, keeping it pliable and also attract moisture.
Two other ingredients deserve special mention: lactic acid and glycolic acid. These are both great at softening the skin and really wonderful for the arms and legs. However, they can be irritating and may require mixing with a regular moisturizer to prevent irritation. They can be found in a variety of products, but one that I like because it is well made and inexpensive (and available at Costco) is Amlactin.
Even in the winter time, it is possible to get sunburned. Wind burns are also possible and I tend to see them in people who go skiing. They tend to forget they are at altitude and in a dry environment, both of which can make the skin more susceptible.
If you plan to be outdoors in the winter, use a sunscreen and a moisturizer. Ski masks should be used to protect your skin from the wind, which can strip away moisture. Sunburns and windburns are hard on the skin and will cause premature aging. I also recommend polarized ski goggles when you are out skiing to minimize damage to your eyes.
Winter is a great time to think about changing your skin care regime. Dispose of anything that is older than 6-8 months old and come up with a plan that factors in your environment. A dry, cold place really needs different products than a warm, humid environment. With a little bit of planning and minimal time and money, you can keep your skin healthy and looking great all winter.

For more information about Dr. Beer's practice and his skincare products, go to: and

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