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Helping Hair, Skin Take on Winter

NEW YORK -- Between harsh winds, cold temperatures, and drying indoor heat, winter can suck the life right out of hair and skin.

Women have all experienced the dry, cracked skin, dull complexion, and lackluster locks, but there are ways to protect hair and skin from winter's wrath.

On "The Early Show," Women's Health magazine Beauty Director Molly Nover-Baker offered pointers to help you breathe life back into your damaged hair and skin:

All products Molly mentioned are available at drugstores nationwide:


Why do complexions get so dull during winter?

Because dehydrated skin cells turn over more slowly, we tend to get a buildup of dead skin. This hinders light reflection on the skin, causing it to have a lackluster appearance. Our circulation also gets sluggish in the cold, which can make fine lines look more pronounced.

So how can we combat dull skin?

You want to Hydrate and Moisturize. Make sure you're drinking lots of water and loading up on omega-3s, which boost hydration. These essential fatty acids are found in foods like salmon and walnuts or try taking a supplement. We also have some great products to help with hydrating and moisturizing.

Begin your daily skin regimen with a milky or creamy cleanser because the gel formulas contain more stripping surfactants. We recommend Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Cream. It is made with almond meal to exfoliate and make skin feel clean but still soft. Pro snowboarder and Olympic Silver medalist, Gretchen Bleiler, swears by this product. She is accustomed to braving strong winds, sleet, and snow for hours each day out on the half pipe, and she always looks fresh-faced and dewy despite the cold elements.

How can we lend a hand to our faces in the cold?

In the winter months, use a cream or balm instead of a lotion to moisturize your face because they hold water in the skin better. Try to choose a moisturizer with antioxidants, humectants and emollients. We recommend Episencial Protective Face Balm SPF 6

Too many hot showers and not enough body cream can cause your skin to appear very dry. Because your arms and legs have fewer oil glands, they tend to be drier and scalier than other parts, especially in the winter. The solution is Milk! The natural fats and lactic acid in milk can soften skin, lightly exfoliate, and abate irritation. Draw yourself a nourishing bath by adding two cups of skim milk to warm, not hot, water. Soak for 15 minutes, pat skin dry.

Apply a milk-and-honey cream to boost the benefits. Try Burt's Bees Naturally Nourishing Milk & Honey Body Lotion, $10 at drugstores, to soothe scaly skin.

Why does hair suffer in winter?

Lackluster, dry hair is a frustrating problem in the dry winter, especially because dryness causes hair to have static cling making it extra hard to manage.

The solution is to use a conditioner rich in silicones, which lock down the outer cuticle layer of your hair and seal in moisture. Also look for a conditioner with quaternary ammonium compounds (commonly called "quats") that make your hair silky and smooth and also neutralizes static electricity. Look on the label for quats such as cetrimonium chloride and behentrimonium chloride. Try Dove Intensive Repair Daily Treatment Conditioner.

What about itchy, dry scalps?

Itching flakes can be a symptom of both dandruff which is caused by a yeast-like fungus and dry scalp. The solution is to use a hydrating shampoo and conditioner, but if those don't soothe your scalp after a week, try using an intensive-care product. We recommend Moroccanoil Dry-No-More Professional Scalp Treatment. This is extremely popular right now and works on wet or dry hair.

What if flakes persist after an intensive care treatment?

Then, you probably have dandruff. Switch to a medicated shampoo containing zinc pyrithione, an active ingredient in Garnier Fructis Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, which will kill the fungus and stop the itching flakes.

For more on this, from Women's Health, click here.