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Dry days

india Updated: Jan 19, 2009 18:13 IST

Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Dull hair, chapped lips and a dry face, hands, shins and elbows. For many of us, that’s what winter means. But dryness can easily be overcome with just a little care. A head-to-toe guide by Veenu Singh.

Winter can easily play havoc both with your skin and hair making them look dry and dull. “In the winter, the skin faces two problems. One is dehydration, or the loss of water, and the second is dryness, or the loss of oil. So the products you use should address both these problems,” says Meeta Awatramani, training manager, Clarins.

There are many simple tips to ensure your skin stays hydrated through the winter. For one, don’t bathe or wash your face at least half an hour before going out into the cold. “Your skin loves water, but water that has moisturised your face will chap the skin when cold air hits it,” explains aromatherapist and beautician Blossom Kochhar. Also avoid using soap. “Most soaps dry your skin. Use a gentle cleansing lotion or cleansing cream instead. If you need to use soap, use one that contains glycerine or cream,” says Blossom.

Winter is also when you must moisturise your skin without fail because it loses moisture more quickly than it can replenish it. “Protect your skin with extra-rich emollients like shea butter or even almonds,” says Blossom. These help seal the water below the surface of the skin and act as a barrier against external conditions. Use a heavier moisturiser than you would in warmer weather and apply while your skin is damp.

Here are some more head-to-toe suggestions from experts.

Head
A Dry scalp and dull hair are two big winter problems most of us suffer from. “Cold weather removes moisture from the hair, making it dry, flaky and unmanageable. A hot oil massage is the best way to nourish the scalp and hair. Coconut oil is a good option and if warming oils like rosemary, thyme and patchouli are added to it, it gives the hair extra care,” says Dr Rashmi Shetty, hair expert with Marico. She adds that one should have a head oil massage at least once or twice a week. “You can either leave the oil on your hair overnight or you can apply it an hour or so before washing it.” After washing, condition your hair. It will help retain moisture.

Face
Avoid washing your face with soap because it tends to dry your skin in the winter. Use a gentle cleansing milk instead. “At night, use aloe vera or any other hydrating gel on your face before you apply any moisturiser. This is suitable for all skin types. Those with extremely dry skin can use the same combination during the day as well as dab a little rose water periodically. They can top it up with a good moisturiser,” suggests aromatherapist and beautician Blossom Kochhar.

Body
To keep your body soft and supple through the winter, massage it with almond or olive oil before bathing. You can also add a few drops of the oil to your bath water. “A grandmother’s secret that is really effective is to put a little mustard oil on your navel to keep your body well conditioned and to avoid chapped lips,” says Blossom. Also ensure you have a good body lotion if you have extremely dry skin.

Hands
Your hands tend to get drier than usual in the winter. “During the day you can use a good hand lotion with an SPF of 15 as this protects the skin against UV radiation and moisturises, softens and smoothens your hands at the same time. At night, a good hand and nail treatment cream which provides intensive moisturising can be used,” suggests Nivedita Rastogi, brand manager, Nivea.

Feet & lips
Cracked heels and chapped lips are a serious problem area for most of us. “A simple way to keep your lips soft is to apply a mixture of sugar, some yellow butter and a crushed rose petal early morning on your lips,” says Blossom. “It is essential to use a lip balm as it protects the tender skin of the lips. Using petroleum jelly will provide instant moisturising, but you will need to use it again and again,” adds Nivedita.