Our skin is the largest organ we have, covering, literally, our entire bodies. It’s also the only organ we have that is exposed to the outside elements like weather and day-to-day living. So it’s only natural that it can become damaged and tired simply due to our environment.
Because many of us live in climates that vary from season to season, we may have different skin care needs every few months. But the Golden Rule should be noted — use a year-round broad spectrum sunscreen every day.
So now let’s look at all four seasons and see what special needs each one carries.
Winter is the season where many women have trouble with their skin. Broad-spectrum sunscreen is still important, especially if partaking in snow play and sports. But this is the season where moisturizer is really needed as the cold, snow and harshness of winter will cause skin to dry and crack, and can actually be very painful.
Switch your moisturizing lotions to thick creams. One or two night a week, use a thick, unscented cream all over your body before bed and cover in cotton pajamas. Your skin will feel amazingly soft from being swathed in good moisturizer for eight hours.
If you have dry, cracked feet, cover them fully in white petroleum jelly before bed and wear cotton socks. The difference in the morning is incredible. Do this at least once a week to keep your body and feet feeling hydrated.
Your face will also need special care. Most of your body will be covered in the cold months but your face will often be exposed to the harsh elements. Use a good moisturizing cream at night and use it on your neck and chest, too. Cleanse, tone and moisturize at night, using products that promote moisture. When cooking those great winter comfort foods, use olive or coconut oil.
Don't forget your hands and lips — two body parts that can become very chapped in winter. Wear gloves when you go out.
Remember hearing that Cleopatra used to take milk baths? She was a smart woman. Lactic acid provides a lot of moisture that is very good for the skin and can help with “chicken skin” — also known as keratosis pilaris or KP — that red, bumpy skin often found on the upper arms and legs. KP is often at its worst in winter, so a moisturizer with lactic acid can do a great job in healing.
One last winter tip is to invest in a whole house humidifier. This can help your skin stay healthy, and it’s good for your lungs too.
Spring carries many needs because weather can vary from cold to warm to hot. After a tough winter, skin can be dry, itchy and red. This can be a good time for a thorough scrub and polish. Body scrub is easy to make. It can remove flaky skin and smooth out bumps.
Mix sugar (regular sugar, not powdered), mashed bananas and the essential oil of your choice (try rosemary, lavender, sandalwood or rose) and give your body a full scrub-down.
You can use scrubs in the shower before your turn the water on to avoid any mess. There are also salt scrubs that work well. Try mixing salt with fresh lemon juice (a natural cleanser and deodorizer) and rosemary. Your skin will feel soft and clean afterward. Remember to follow with a good whole-body moisturizer.
Coconut is wonderful for the skin, providing a good level of moisturizer. Put coconut oil in a bowl and mix with sugar and vanilla oil. The scent will drive you wild,, and you can even pop a tiny sample in your mouth!
You can also make these scrubs in batches you can use for later. Or use them on your face and add a little tea tree oil for your facial to help with acne. Use once or twice a week for clean, well-toned skin.
The hot months of summer can be very hard on the skin. While broad-spectrum sunscreen (protecting against both UVA and UVB rays) is important all year round, it’s particularly important in the summer.
Use SPF 30 or above, all over your exposed skin and pay attention to your face to avoid premature aging. Don't forget your ears, nose and lips.
Apply every two hours when outside, or more often if working outside, when swimming or excessively sweating. Also use a foundation with sunscreen.
The sun, the sea and chlorinated pools all cause the skin to deydrate. Use a thick moisturizer that is free of fragrance and parabens. Wear a broad-rimmed hat to protect your head and shoulders.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2012 — the most recent year numbers are available — 67,753 people in the United States were diagnosed with melanomas of the skin, including 39,673 men and 28,080 women. In the United States, 9,251 people died from melanomas of the skin, including 6,013 men and 3,238 women.
Fall is an interesting time for skin. It has had a tough time in summer and needs to be prepared for a tough time in winter. Exfoliating is a good idea as skin can be dry and thirsty after summer. Add as much oil as is comfortable for a scrub so that your skin receives maximum moisturizing.
You can also use olive oil or coconut oil as a regular moisturizer, but don’t overdo it or you’ll feel sticky in your clothes and possibly cause damage to them.
Many people like to take baths as the weather gets cooler so add these oils to the water flow to keep your skin supple. As nice as scented fragrances are, use ones that use natural fragrances instead of chemicals, and give bath salts a miss.
Salts and highly perfumed bubble baths can dry the skin and can also upset the delicate pH balance of both the reproductive and urinary systems, causing yeast infections or even UTIs. The vagina is a self-cleaning machine and does not need soap or scrubbing.
A bath with clean water and a clean hand to wash genitals is healthier for your skin. If you must have bubbles — and who doesn’t like bubbles? — try a product that is free of parabens, formaldehyde, fragrance, sulfate and dyes. You can find them online or in any health shop. Add a drop or two of essential oils for scent.
So give your skin special care, depending on the elements each season brings. Make sure your routine is done every day and switch products when the season dictates. Hydration also comes from the inside, so drink plenty of liquids. Healthy, moisturized and supple skin can takes years off your body and face and protect you from skin cancer. The extra work is well worth it.
TreeHugger.com. 8 homemade salt and sugar body scrubs. Web. Retrieved Nov 4th, 2015.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Skin Cancer Statistics. Web. Retrieved Nov 4th, 2015. http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/statistics
SafeBee.com. “Are Baths Bad for Women?” Web. Retrieved Nov 4th, 2015.
Reviewed November 5, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith