5 ways to prepare skin for winter

Vaseline Lip Therapy Original Lip Balm provides long-lasting relief from dryness, $2.97, target.com. (target)
Vaseline Lip Therapy Original Lip Balm provides long-lasting relief from dryness, $2.97, target.com. (target)

Cooler weather is threatening to take over our next few months. So it’s time to defend skin from the moisture-sucking air of winter. What can you do now to keep skin healthy as winter approaches? We asked the experts.

Cool it on the super-hot water. Limit exposure to very cold or very hot water, which can dry out the skin, said Dr. Vesna Petronic-Rosic, chief of the University of Chicago Medicine's Section of Dermatology.

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Especially after washing your hands or taking a shower, moisturize right away with heavy moisturizer, says Petronic-Rosic. "Best are those that if you put in your palm of your hand and you flip your hand, that they won't drip off," she said. "If they trickle down or drip, they're not heavy enough." Barrier creams will last a little longer through several washes, she said.

Dr. Carolyn Jacob, dermatologist and director of Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology, suggests cleansers and moisturizers with ceramides, like CeraVe cleanser or lotion. These products, she said, replenish natural moisturizing depleted by eczema-prone skin or dry, cold weather.

Easy does it. Rethink how often you consider harsher treatments like peels, which can leave skin dry and sensitive in the cold weather. Scrubs? "Definitely not," said Petronic-Rosic. "Anything that basically degreases the skin is not a good idea." Other things to stock up on? Gentle soap, nothing harsh. Petronic-Rosic recommends brands like Dove or Cetaphil, which has a hypoallergenic Gentle Cleansing Bar. Connecticut-based dermatologist Dr. Mona Gohara, who works with Dove, recommends the Dove Beauty Bar.

Think beyond the face. For starters, gloves. We know, we know. You forget to throw them on or lose one on the way to work. But for starters, wearing gloves outside is important. For lips, consider fragrance-free and hypoallergenic Vaseline. Gohara recommends Vaseline Rosy Lip Therapy Balm, a tin that's hydrating and tinted.

Chicago dermatologist Dr. Rachel Pritzker tells patients to add Vaseline to hands and cracked or dry areas of feet before bed. Add regular gloves and socks to amp up moisture, or buy ones specifically for the task, like Iluminage’s Skin Rejuvenating Gloves that can be worn at night. And all dermatologists issued a reminder that sunscreen is still important in the winter — rays remain present.

Don't forget the lower legs. Often, Petronic-Rosic said, she sees patients with very dry skin on their lower legs, where cold air reaches in above socks. Wear longer socks, or pay extra attention to that area when you're moisturizing.