Canadian winters are no joke, and the frigid weather demands that we take particular precautions when it comes to our skin. There are so many things you have to protect yourself from, including frostbite, sunburns and dry, itchy skin (all of which I’ve had some experience with—I tend to spend a lot of time outside in the winter (training for marathons, skiing, and once waiting for hours outside in deep-freeze temps to get a spot in front of the stage for a concert—facepalm). Let’s make it through this winter armed with the best skincare routine to keep our skin healthy.

Check out these top winter skin issues to find out how to protect the largest organ of your body from them:


The reminders about protecting your skin with sunscreen tend to be promoted heavily in the spring with summer on its way, but just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can skip SPF! The sun’s UV rays can bounce off of snow, and even though there may be more cloudy days during the winter months, up to 90 percent of the sun’s UV rays pass through clouds. So, yes—wearing SPF is still essential. Keep in mind, too, that at higher altitudes, say when you are skiing or snowboarding, UV rays are even stronger.

Don’t quit the SPF routine you established in the summer. Wear a broad spectrum SPF of at least 30 on a daily basis.


Frostbite (when your skin and underlying tissues freeze) can occur on exposed skin in less than half an hour in a windchill of -27 Celsius (Hypothermia, which is when your body is losing heat faster than it can produce it, may also be a concern in conditions when frostbite may be an issue.) As a first line of defence, limit your time outdoors when there is a winter weather advisory. Since you can’t hibernate, for when you do have to be outside, dress properly and cover up as much of your skin as possible, especially when it comes to gearing up for winter fitness activities. Wear warm clothing designed for freezing conditions, including clothing that protect against wind, cold and wet weather. And, of course, use your common sense and avoid touching materials such as ice and frozen metal when outside.

Dry, itchy skin

With dry winter air and indoor heating cranked up, you may find that your skin feels especially parched and itchy right now. A few adjustments to your daily skincare regimen can help reduce these irritated skin issues. First, even though taking a long hot bath or shower is very tempting during the winter, you are best off sticking to lukewarm water and bathing quickly. Hot water will only zap your skin of even more moisture. Also, switch from the moisturizer you used all summer to one that is thicker and more emollient (look for one with a high oil content). Thirdly, get a humidifier for your bedroom to up the level of moisture in the air—your skin will thank you.


Any tips and tricks of your own to share when it comes to winter skincare?

Karen Kwan

Author Karen Kwan

Karen Kwan is a health and lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in, Canadian Living, Flare, Metro, iRun, and, to name just a few. She's a marathoner (with a dozen 42.2k races under her belt) and an avid foodie, so she can often be found traveling within the city or abroad to indulge in both great food and running.

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