Cold weather, as well as airplane travel can wreak havoc with our largest organ—the skin.
Top New York dermatologist Dr. Doris Day, spoke with Epoch Times about her favorite skincare ingredients and shared her advice on how to achieve and maintain healthy skin at home, or when traveling to our favorite holiday destinations.
Questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Epoch Times: How does that harshness of winter differ in the way it affects the skin, as opposed to the harshness of the warmer months.
Dr. Day: In winter the air is typically dryer, it’s colder and there’s more wind. In these conditions your skin has less water available to it. And because of the wind and the dryness, water can be pulled out of your skin into the environment to balance out—because we always look for equilibrium between us and the environment.
Also, after you take a nice long, hot shower, it takes the natural oils out of your skin and when you step out of the shower, as your skin dries, water gets pulled out of your skin and it ends up very dry. When the skin becomes dry it can also becomes more itchy. Your skin can be flaky, unsightly and look dull, because of the way that the cells sit on the skin. Also when you scratch, you can create breaks in the skin which again affects water balance. Those breaks can become a source of potential infection.
As you move down away from the face, your skin naturally become dryer—the lower legs tend to be dry even in the best of times and we have to moisturize them on a regular basis, but in winter we have to pay special attention.
Due to dryness you can have increased inflammation around the hair follicles, red bumps, and if you have a history of psoriasis or eczema, those can also flare.
Epoch Times: What about the face?
Dr. Day: Your facial skin is different than your body’s skin and you have to handle it differently. Sometimes you can be using products that can be drying. If you over-exfoliate you can strip the skin and then when you apply moisturizer it can sting or burn.
Epoch Times: Which ingredients are most effective?
Dr. Day: I’m very big on anti-oxidants for the face and the body. The ingredients I really like are lactic acid and ceramides. Lactic acid is a natural, gentle exfoliator and a humectant—it will help hold and pull water into the skin. Ceramides are naturally found in the skin, they are like the mortar between the skin cells (the skin cells are like the bricks), they help to hold the skin cells together and keep them intact and healthy. That makes a big difference.
So you have to cleanse properly, using a light cleanser, exfoliate gently but not as often [as in summer], and then moisturize with a richer product than you might use in summer. Make sure to do this in the morning and night. One thing that is still really important is to use sunscreen even in the cold winter months because UV rays are everyday, all year around, and studies show that when you use proper sun protection all year around, you have a significantly decreased risk of both premature aging and skin cancer.
For the body I recommend moisturizers such as AmLactin Cerapeutic Restoring Body Lotion, that has lactic acid and ceramides. And for the face I like ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and niacinamide and those are in products such as the Olay ProX line. I’m a big drugstore girl and these are all available at the drugstore.
Epoch Times: What are the most up-to-date ingredients that have been shown to be have a beneficial effect on the skin?
Dr. Day: Retin A [a form of vitamin A] is the longest studied, has the most detail and the most published papers, but other ingredients like bio-identical growth factors, vitamin C, niacinamide, caffeine also have data, it’s just not as prolific as for vitamin A.
Epoch Times: Is it possible to be unhealthy on the inside and still have good skin?
Dr. Day: It’s possible but it’s not easy, eventually it shows. The beauty about skin is that you can’t really fake it. If your skin looks beautiful that means that it’s healthy and your skin is a really powerful reflection of your inner health. There are lots of clues in skin, hair and nails that tell us about the body, about even cancer.
Epoch Times: What are some dos and don’ts on a long-haul flight?
Dr. Day: I like the Avene and Evian spray bottles of the water mist. These are treated waters that help to hydrate. You can’t really make your own water mist because that water will evaporate off your skin and make it dryer.
Drink a lot of water and make sure you moisturize adequately—carry a hand cream and face cream because water in airplane bathrooms is very dying to the skin.
Try to sleep—sleeping enough is really important. That will also help you not look so tired when you land.
Epoch Times: How about coffee and alcohol on flights?
Dr. Day: You can have a cup of coffee a day. There is a lot of data showing that coffee and caffeine can be healthy but I always limit it to one cup a day. But even most important is alcohol—I almost never drink alcohol when I travel, it is very dehydrating and increases jet lag.
Doris Day, MD, is a board certified dermatologist with a private practice on the Upper East Side in New York City. Dr. Day is affiliated with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and is a clinical associate professor of dermatology at the New York University Langone Medical Centers.