Tuesday, January 28, 2014

SKIN CARE TIPS FOR THE WINTER SEASON

For many, the cold clear days of winter bring more than just a rosy glow to the cheeks. They also bring uncomfortable dryness to the skin of the face, hands, and feet. 

For some people, the problem is worse than just a general tight, dry feeling: They get skin so dry it results in flaking, cracking, even eczema (in which the skin becomes inflamed).  

"As soon as you turn the heat on indoors, the skin starts to dry out," says Bonnie LaPlante, an esthetician with the Canyon Ranch resort in Lenox, MA.  "It doesn't matter if you heat your home using oil, wood, or electricity. The skin gets dry."

Sound familiar? Read on to get the top 10 tips for boosting your winter skin care regimen, so that your skin stays moist and healthy through the winter months.

1. Seek a Specialist
If you go to your local drugstore, you'll be hard put to find a salesperson who can give you good advice. That's why going to an esthetician or dermatologist even once is a good investment. Such a specialist can analyze your skin type, troubleshoot your current skin care regimen, and give you advice on the skin care products you should be using.  

But that doesn't mean you'll be stuck buying high-end products. "Inexpensive products work just as well as high-end ones," says David Voron, MD, a dermatologist in Arcadia, Calif. "In fact, the extra price you pay for the expensive stuff is often just for packaging and marketing. What's most important is how your skin responds to the product -- and how you like its feel, not how much money you paid for it."

2. Moisturize More
You may have found a moisturizer that works just fine in spring and summer.  But as weather conditions change, so, too, should your skin care routine.  Find an "ointment" moisturizer that's oil-based, rather than water-based, as the oil will create a protective layer on the skin that retains more moisture than a cream or lotion. (Hint: Many lotions labeled as "night creams" are oil-based.)  

But choose your oils with care because not all oils are appropriate for the face. Instead, look for "nonclogging" oils, like avocado oil, mineral oil, primrose oil, or almond oil. Shea oil -- or butter -- is controversial, because it can clog facial pores. And vegetable shortening, LaPlante says, is a really bad idea. "It would just sit on the skin," she says. "And it would be really greasy."  

You can also look for lotions containing "humectants," a class of substances (including glycerine, sorbitol, and alpha-hydroxy acids) that attract moisture to your skin.

3. Slather on the Sunscreen
No, sunscreen isn't just for summertime. Winter sun -- combined with snow glare -- can still damage your skin. Try applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen to your face and your hands (if they're exposed) about 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply frequently if you stay outside a long time.  

4. Give Your Hands a Hand
The skin on your hands is thinner than on most parts of the body and has fewer oil glands. That means it's harder to keep your hands moist, especially in cold, dry weather. This can lead to itchiness and cracking. Wear gloves when you go outside; if you need to wear wool to keep your hands warm, slip on a thin cotton glove first, to avoid any irritation the wool might cause.  

5. Avoid Wet Gloves and Socks
Wet socks and gloves can irritate your skin and cause itching, cracking, sores, or even a flare-up of eczema.  

6. Hook Up the Humidifier
Central heating systems (as well as space heaters) blast hot dry air throughout our homes and offices. Humidifiers get more moisture in the air, which helps prevent your skin from drying out. Place several small humidifiers throughout your home; they help disperse the moisture more evenly.  

7. Hydrate for Your Health, Not for Your Skin
If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: Drinking water helps your skin stay young looking. In fact, it's a myth. Water is good for your overall health and "the skin of someone who is severely dehydrated will benefit from fluids. But the average person's skin does not reflect the amount of water being drunk," say Kenneth Bielinski, MD, a dermatologist in Oak Lawn, Illinois.  "It's a very common misconception."  

LaPlante agrees. "I see clients at the spa who drink their 10 to 12 glasses of water a day and still have superdry skin. It just doesn't do that much."  

8. Grease Up Your Feet
Yes, those minty foot lotions are lovely in the hot summer months, but during the winter, your feet need stronger stuff. Try finding lotions that contain petroleum jelly or glycerine instead. And use exfoliants to get the dead skin off periodically; that helps any moisturizers you use to sink in faster and deeper.  

9. Pace the Peels
If your facial skin is uncomfortably dry, avoid using harsh peels, masks, and alcohol-based toners or astringents, all of which can strip vital oil from your skin. Instead, find a cleansing milk or mild foaming cleanser, a toner with no alcohol, and masks that are "deeply hydrating," rather than clay-based, which tends to draw moisture out of the face. And use them a little less often.  

10. Ban Superhot Baths
Sure, soaking in a burning-hot bath feels great after frolicking out in the cold. But the intense heat of a hot shower or bath actually breaks down the lipid barriers in the skin, which can lead to a loss of moisture. "You're better off with just warm water," LaPlante advises, "and staying in the water a shorter amount of time." 

A lukewarm bath with oatmeal or baking soda, can help relieve skin that is so dry it has become itchy, Bielinski notes. So, too, can periodically reapplying your moisturizer. If those techniques don't work, go see a dermatologist. "You may need a prescription lotion to combat the dry skin," Bielinski says. "Or you may have a condition that isn't simply dry skin and that requires different treatment."  

Friday, January 17, 2014

QUICK RECIPE: Melt In Your Mouth Chicken Breasts


Fast and easy dinner for these cold winter days!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes

INGREDIENTS

4 boneless chicken breast halves
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder

DIRECTIONS

Mix mayonnaise, cheese and seasonings. Spread mixture over chicken breast and place in baking dish. Bake at 375°F for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven, serve either with a salad, or a serving of mixed vegetables.  

(Recipe courtesy of Food.com)

Monday, January 6, 2014

WARMING TIPS FOR THIS WINTER SEASON

Believe it or not, we are only three weeks into the 2013/2014 winter season although it seems much, much longer.  This winter has been colder and snowier than recent seasons, and Old Man Winter shows no signs of easing his icy grip on us.  Rather than give up and sob silently in your cold soup as you shiver and shudder for warmth, take some time and follow a few steps to keep warm and toasty despite this winter's best shots:

EXERCISE: 20 minutes of vigorous exercise can warm you up and keep you warm well after the exercise session. Do a couple sets of jumping jacks, or just run in place to get your blood flowing - moving around produces body heat! The more active you are, the better your blood circulation will be. This means that warm blood gets to your fingers and toes, keeping them warm.  

DRINK WARM BEVERAGES:  Warm beverages will raise your core temperature. The process can be very relaxing and even stimulating. Make a cup of tea or coffee. Sip on some warm broth.  Treat yourself to a hot toddy.  

WARM UP WITH A HOT SHOWER:  Take a hot shower or bath and use oil or lotion on your skin when you get out. It's almost like putting on another thin layer of clothing.

KEEP YOUR HEAD COVERED:  Wear a cap or head covering of some sort even when indoors.  A lot of body heat is lost through the scalp, especially if you have short or close-clipped hair.  The head covering will help retain body heat and keep your core temperature up.  

BAKE COOKIES OR A PIE: Your oven will help to dry the air and heat the kitchen. The kitchen will be warm while you are cooking, and then you can have a great home cooked meal too!  However, limit cooking that gives off steam, as this will increase the humidity in the air and make your house damp.

TURN ON SOME INCANDESCENT LIGHTS: The average incandescent light bulb releases up to 95% of its energy as heat rather than light, making it an extremely efficient heat source.  Compact fluorescent and LED lights are not helpful in warming your room, so save them for warmer days and use the money you saved to pay the heat bill.  

Just follow a few of these tips and you will find yourself in fighting shape to deal with the cold weather.  BRING IT ON!