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Winter Skin Warning!

A survival guide for protecting your hide when cold, dry weather comes to town

Winter Skin Warning!

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A hat will minimize heat loss — a convenient truth, given that cabled or ribbed knit pull-ons and slouchy beanies with fur pompons are trending right now.

En español | Fir-scented candles and hot cocoa with whipped cream? Yes, please.

Uggs, leggings and cozy sweaters worn before a fire? I'm there.

Yet this boomerista flees indoors at the first appearance of the cold, dry air that is so unkind to our skin. If you, too, feel weathered by wintertime, join me in test-driving these seven skin-care tips.

Assume. Even with global warming, it's safe to expect frigid temperatures outside, hot forced air blasting away inside and zero humidity in both places this winter. Get ready for these conditions before they get you.

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Assert. Take climate control. Central heating, wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, space heaters — they're all seductively toasty but, man, can they can rob the air (and your skin) of moisture! And when you consider that menopausal skin is already drier, thinner and downright needy, this state of affairs is what millennials would call "Not great." To fight back:

  • Turn down the thermostat to a more-reasonable 68; dial up the humidity by buying indoor plants, using a room humidifier or setting a bowl of water atop radiators.
  • Long soaks in the tub or hot, steamy showers are inadvisable, according to dermatologists, but who are they kidding? When you can't resist, the trick is to modify rather than miss out: Shorten the time your skin is exposed to warm water and consider using a moisturizing body wash infused with botanical oils and butters from the likes of Jergens, Nivea or OGX.

Alter. Even when your extremities (and tough spots you might not naturally think of, such as elbows) are bundled up in socks, furry booties and tights, or gloves and cozy long-sleeve sweaters, they can still be affected by the cold. So make new habits to heal them: For heels and elbows with serious cracks, try an ointment with urea, lactic acid or glycolic acid from suppliers such as Glytone or AmLactin. These promise to gently fill, soothe, polish and smooth.

And every time you wash your hands or apply hand sanitizer to them, follow it up with a dab of hand cream. (Come to think of it, keep the latter handy in your bag, on your desk or sink, and by your bed as the days draw short.)

Adorn. Dress smartly: That means thin layers that work from the inside out. Start with a base layer — a tank or T-shirt — that wicks moisture away from the body, then add light, insulating layers that you know will trap your body heat. (If it's snowing or raining, of course, top it all off with a waterproof shell.)

A hat will minimize heat loss — a convenient truth, given that cabled or ribbed knit pull-ons and slouchy beanies with fur pompons are trending right now. Invest in a pair of touch screen-enabled gloves, whose fingertips are designed to activate all those tiny little keys on your smartphone for easy texting or calling. Finally, wrap on a soft scarf or infinity scarf to block the winter winds — even if that means pulling it up over your lower face.

Adapt. Winter is prime time for what I call TFS (tight face syndrome), which can make mature skin feel even more sensitive than usual. To combat this condition, it makes sense to stick to one facial skin-care brand for the duration of the dark season. This helps serums, creams, cleansers, masks and eye creams that are designed to work together to stay in sync.

Atone. Admit it! You shampoo less often when the weather turns cold — and aggressively heat-style your hair straight out of the shower when you do? That does your locks no favors, since a scratchy, flaky scalp and limp hair may result. A shampoo containing salicylic acid or zinc pyrithione can control the dandruff — and save your black cashmere sweaters.

Allure. Now for some good news: There's more to this season than mere beauty battle tactics, so enjoy the coming blizzard of metallic sweaters, velvet jeans and statement necklaces sparkling with giant gemstones! And if you want to treat yourself to a caramel hot cider with whipped cream, I say go for it!

For more beauty and style tips for women 50-plus, check out The Woman's Wakeup and AARP's new Beauty & Style digital magazine, which is available for tablet.

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