Conditioning for the cold

November 12th, 2010 - By Sharon Biggs Waller


Winter seems to be the enemy of our skin and hair. As soon we say goodbye to the summer we say hello to dry, itchy skin and flyaway hair. But it doesn’t have to be so. With a few small adjustments, you can stay refreshed and looking bright through the holidays and on through the winter.


Jose Ramirez, creative director at Vanis Salon & Day Spa, says in the winter it’s crucial to use a good shampoo, particularly if you have color-treated hair, because the pH changes. Conditioning is a good option for the winter to keep away dryness but Ramirez says it’s important to choose the right one. “There are many choices, from once-a-week repair treatments to daily conditioners to leave-in conditioners,” he says. “Some people don’t like to condition their hair, but at least use it once a week, which will help moisturize the hair and stop that static that often happens in the winter. People with fine hair might find a heavier daily conditioner might weigh their hair down. But as with any product, the key is to select the right one for your hair type. Read the bottle to see if it’s the right match for your hair. For instance, Aveda’s Shampure conditioner is a great everyday choice for fine hair. And Confixor is a light styling gel. Neither product will weigh the hair down.”

In the summer people often let their hair air-dry, which gives the hair a break from the heat of hair dryers and flat irons. But in the fall and winter, leaving your hair wet when you leave the house or the gym is unlikely, meaning a dryer is necessary. Ramirez says to pay attention to how much heat you’re putting on your hair. “Check the settings. It’s not necessary to have your hair drying on the highest setting. If it feels hot on your hand from four to five inches away—almost unbearable—it will be damaging to the hair. Turn the dryer down to the next setting. The same goes with your flat iron or curling iron. If you have medium or fine hair, adjust your appliance to a lower setting. If you have coarse hair, you can use the higher setting. And it’s also not necessary to dry the hair completely before you iron-90 percent is fine.”

Make sure to use some kind of setting lotion. Not only will this hold the look, but also it will help protect against the heat of the appliance. And for refreshed-looking hair, consider using a brush made from a mixture of boar bristles and synthetic bristles. Ramirez says this brush gives you more control, resulting in a shiny mane.


Jeane Marie Ziegler, R.N. and licensed facial specialist at Apre Medical Spa in Munster, says that the holidays create stress, which isn’t so great for the skin. “Stress in our bodies increases the adrenal production of cortisol, which lessens the skin’s ability to hold water. This creates reduced moisture, which leads to dull-looking skin. Cortisol also creates inflammation, which means capillaries expand. For those with rosacea this causes more reddening. For those with oily skin, inflammation leads to break-cortisol, resulting in puffy eyes.”

Ziegler says we can’t help but be stressed over the holidays, but we can counteract cortisol’s treachery by putting moisture to work. The first thing to do is keep the moisture you have. Don’t boil your skin in overly hot baths or showers, although that’s tempting to do when it’s cold outside. Don’t rub yourself dry after a shower or after you wash your face; pat yourself down until you are just damp, and then put your moisturizer on. As your skin is absorbing the water, it will absorb the moisturizer too.

Exfoliating helps the skin absorb moisture because it’s difficult for the moisturizer to penetrate the skin through dead skin cells. “It also gives you a healthy look to your skin. In winter you often see people’s complexions looking dull. This is because of that layer of dead skin. Make sure the product for the face doesn’t contain almond shells; it’s too harsh. Also don’t overly scrub the skin. You can break capillaries.”

Rosa Frigo, aesthetician from Vanis Salon & Spa in Schererville, says to choose a salt scrub for the body. “This helps release toxins on the skin. And always use a moisturizer afterwards. A loofa mitt works great with the salt scrub on dry skin. Then shower, cleanse and moisturize.”

Both Frigo and Ziegler agree that a spa facial is the best way to get your skin looking great. “A facial gives you deep exfoliation so your moisturizer will absorb better,” says Frigo.

“The skin is the largest organ in the body, so why wouldn’t you look after it?” adds Ziegler. “People think you’re a princess for having a facial, but really, you’re being very smart and taking care of yourself.”

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