When it comes to winter, it's not just flakes of snow that may be landing on your shoulder. Dry, flaky skin, especially on the scalp, is a big problem for many people once the temperature starts to drop. But why does our skin get so dry in the winter?
The cold weather months suck the moisture out of the air, leaving many of us high and dry. Air can only hold a specific amount of water. The colder it gets, the less water the air can hold before that water condenses. That’s why you can “see your breath” in frigid temperatures; the moisture in your breath is being condensed into a sort of fog. When the water in our atmosphere is condensed in that way, it no longer permeates the air as it has become too heavy. You can see this in the dew or frost forming on your car or the grass - that's the water that used to be a part of the atmosphere.
The loss of water in the air outside, or low level of humidity, means even if you are inside your home with the heater on, the air you are cycling in has already lost a good amount of its moisture. The dryer air slowly draws the moisture from your skin. This is why you always end up reaching for the lip balm even if you haven't traveled out in the cold that day.
The dry atmosphere will have many side effects on your skin if you are not able to keep it properly moisturized. For your scalp, you should cut back on some hair products that may increase dryness, and focus on regular exfoliation to remove dry skin buildup. You should also look into some moisturizing shampoos that work to hydrate the skin on your scalp. Good hygiene is critical at this time of year. Hot water (another standard feature of the winter months) will aggravate dry skin further, while cold water will not. If you can bear it, try to wash your scalp with cooler water only.
One of the best things you can do for the health of the rest of your skin outside of creams and balms is to stay hydrated from the inside out. Increase your water intake. We aren’t as motivated to stay as hydrated in the winter weather as we are in the summer, but maintaining proper water intake throughout the year is one of the best ways to ward away abnormally dry skin brought on by the winter.
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