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(rerunning our evergreen winter beauty tips story because because…)

… well, at least LESS GROSS winter skin. So you guys, it snowed. And as I type this it 26 degrees (though as you read this, the temperature may grow to a balmy 27). And your skin is peeling and red and itchy and maybe somehow also breaking out at the same time, and your hands are cracked, and your lips chapped and hey, who wants to go on a date? Just kidding.


So, we figured we’d ask a professional for help. Dr. Arleen Lamba, the brains and expertise behind Blush Med (which is a genius concept in Bethesda – basically like joining a gym for your skin-for just $59 a month you get ongoing care and advice) was as glowy and healthy looking as ever when we stopped by to ask some hard winter skincare questions. So, naturally, we figured, she was the right professional choice.


Lets dig in.

Lets start at the beginning. Why EXACTLY does skin turn so dry in winter?

Winter is the time of hibernation and your skin is no different when it comes to getting some rest. During these cold months, your circulation and cell turnover slow down leading to a dull complexion that lacks moisture. To make matters worse, in the winter humidity is low and what little moisture your skin may have left is quickly “blown” away by the dry wintery breeze. But staying indoors won’t help you much when it comes to dry skin. To keep the cold at bay, we tend to turn up our thermostats in the winter months. This increased heat and dry air draws moisture out of the skin, leaving it feel dry and irritated.

Is there anything I am doing (specific activities, etc) that is making this dry winter skin worse and I should therefore stop it NOW?


A nice long hot shower in the winter sometimes seems like a great way to relax. But if your dry flaky skin could talk, it would definitely advise you against it. This will strip your skin of natural oils that actually form a protective barrier for your skin. Without these oils protection, the skin will also lose water and moisture. So please don’t stop showering but modify your routine instead. Use warm water and limit the time in the shower, this may mean you’ll have cut down your singing. It’s important to lock in that moisture in the skin while it’s still damp, so within a few minutes out of the shower remember to apply body cream

tumblr_libngmTFTz1qfexaro1_500(that is YOUR SKIN dying right there)


This goes for both men and women. Shaving can be drying and irritable for your skin, and the matter only worsens in the winter when you’re already dealing with moisture loss. Don’t worry we won’t shame you into a hibernating grizzly bear…you have options! Start with shaving when your hair is softer, like after a shower. This is when using a shaving cream is important to avoid skin irritation. The shaving blade also plays a role as does the shave technique. Remember to replace dull blades and always shave against the grain.


(well, your skin definitely is)

Just Say No to Bubble Baths!

Before you fill your tub with suds and get ready to soak in with a nice book….think again. Highly alkaline soaps can be drying to your skin and leave it irritated and itchy. If you still crave a “short” soak, then try natural oils like lavender to help you relax while locking in the moisture.



In terms of care, lets start from the top:
The face-what kind of products should we be using in winter? Should we switch out our cleansing and toning routine to something more nourishing? If we normally have oily skin, won’t the heavier moisturizer still have an adverse effect?

It’s time to winterize your skin, whether you have dry, oily, combination or “normal” skin type. Your first step in this skin winterization process will start with….a humidifier. Yes, a humidifier, will be your biggest weapon against itchy dry skin. It will replace the moisture in the air and prevent your skin from dehydrating.

In the colder months swap your lotions with creams. Lotions are more water based and may not be the best at protecting against drying winter skin. In this case you would need something “heavier” like a cream.

If you have oily skin that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t moisturize during the winter. Instead look for products with ingredients such as glycerine, urea, sorbital, and hyaluronic acid. These are lightweight molecules we call humectants, they attract water to the outer layer of the skin. This leads to moist and happy skin, even in oily skin types.

For dry skin in the winter months look for products that contain emollient-based formulas. These are buttery and “richer” moisturizers that contain shea butter, lanolin, and mineral oil. These emollient formulas form an invincible protective layer on top of the epidermis that protects against water loss.

A common misunderstanding in winter months is that exfoliating will lead to drier skin. A proper exfoliation in the winter months is a must. Exfoliation will help to remove dead cells and allow your moisturizer to work more effectively. Putting on moisturizer on top of skin that is cluttered with dead skin cells won’t allow the moisturizer to sink in properly or do any of it’s “magic.”

In the dreary winter months you may be missing the beach and taking a break from sunscreen. Though missing the beach is quite understandable, avoiding sunscreen is not. Sunscreen is just as crucial in the cold winter as it is in the hot summers. During winter UV rays are still present though it may not seem as obvious. This means you need a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. A for aging and B for burning.

What would you recommend as a perfect course of action to your customers @ BLUSH MED?

Best to start winter, like any new season with a Skin Consultation. Your skin changes with each season and so does your skin care needs. My personal favorite Blush Blends boosters for winter are Hydrating, Anti-Redness and Luminosity. For winter aromatherapy oils most popular scents are Rose, Lavender, and a mix of Mint/Orange Blossom. Our collagen infused sunscreen Sun-tastic spf45 not only protects against UVA/UVB but is also full of collagen to keep the elasticity of the skin, which is why it continues to be a bestseller and my personal favorite in these cold winter months.


For extremely dry skin-what is the absolute richest moisturizer/ingredient combination out there?

For dry skin in the winter months look for products that contain emollient-based formulas. These are buttery and “richer” moisturizers that contain shea butter, lanolin, and mineral oil. These emollient formulas form an invincible protective layer on top of the epidermis that protects against water loss.

My nose gets SO red in the winter – is there a way to put this under any control?

You may feel like Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer during the winter but before you start submitting your application for Santa’s sleigh driver remember a red nose during the winter is normal. A cold windy day will constrict blood vessels to save energy. This means small blood vessel diameters, less blood going through, and energy/heat being saved. When you come indoors, its nice and toasty warm. Now the extra blood is free to go to your cheeks and nose giving you that famous red nose.

Simplest solution, a scarf. Wear a scarf and make sure to cover your face when you’re braving the cold winter.


Don’t irritate or anger the skin further, so use a mild cleanser or a milk based cleanser. And don’t forget the sunscreen to protect against UV rays.

Blush Med can also add an Anti-Redness Booster to any of our medical grade skin creams, gels and cleansers to calm down this unwanted glow.

What are some of the key ingredients to look for in the Anti-Redness Boosters?

  • Allantoin- A soothing anti-irritant, that increases water content to support cells. Allantoin helps smoothen the skin by promoting cell proliferation, improve healing of wounds and scars. It’s non-toxic and non-allergenic.
  • Laminaria Algae- Brown algae known as kelp, commonly found in warmer waters of the Mediterranean Sea and also off of Brazil. Rich in amino acids and anti-inflammatory polysaccharides, it helps to improve micro-circulation which increases oxygen flow to the capillaries resulting in even skin tone and reduction in redness.


Lets talk lips-chapstick somehow makes my lips dryer in between use-why? What should I do to keep my lips not falling off my face?

Break the cycle of physical dependence with your chapstick.

Applying lip balm too much or too often can lead to physical dependence. Lip balm when applied in high amounts can backfire and have the opposite of our intended effect. It can interfere with the natural healing process of our lips and dry them out. This dryness in turn makes us want to use more lip balm to help heal our dry lips. Causing the bad cycle to repeat.

Menthol, camphor, and phenol: These ingredients can be accredited for giving us that cooling sensation on our lips but with continued use they can actually cause dryness and redness. This in turn causes us to use more lip balm (with menthol, camphor, and phenol) leading to even dryer lips, and so the lip balm dependence cycle starts.

Alcohol: Look out for chapsticks that have alcohol, because this can be very drying to the lips.

Salicylic acid: A great exfoliated for your face and your lips, if used correctly! It will also work to relieve pain. But if you use it too often it can cause dryness and cause your lips to peel! Remember to steer clear of this if you have any aspirin allergies!



What are some of the other options then?

Instead of slathering on chapstick and causing the cycle of physical dependence try some easier methods to keep your soft pout. First, hydrate and hydrate some more. Now that you are hydrated turn on your humidifier so you can keep your skin (which includes your lips) locked in with moisture.

Next, stop licking your lips. Licking your lips to moisturize just doesn’t cut it. Saliva has gastric “juices” aka acids that help break down food, now imagine these acids on your soft lips. Saliva can be very drying for your lips.

Get out the petroleum jelly. Petroleum jelly will build a barrier between your lips and the outside world. A little goes a long way, this way you won’t be tempted to lick off the excess. Remember licking your lips just leads to drier lips. Other ingredients to look for are beeswax, shea butter, and cocoa butter. Your lips need sun protection too! So look for balms with SPF coverage!


Body – some of my body parts are dryer than others (elbows, feet etc) – should I be using different moisturizers? What ingredients should we be looking for?

In the wintery months, your dry skin can get…. well drier. The most infamous victims to this drying effect are your knees, elbows, and feet. These areas are usually drier to begin with and now with winter looming about the dryness increases one notch up. Never fear, solutions are near.

First, exfoliate. There’s a lot of dead skin in these areas. This is a good time, to exfoliate so that you can use a cream (not a lotion) to lock in the moisture. A cream will be richer and thicker. Remember for best results place the cream on damp skin, a few minutes out of the shower. Avoid long hot showers that strip your skin of natural oils which protect your skins moisture and water level. Take a warm shower instead. Your elbows will thank you for it.

Best moisturizers are emollients. These emollients will provide a skin barrier and protect your skin from losing moisture aka water. Some ingredients that fall in this category are lanolin and sunflower seed oil.


The skin on my body is both dry and breaking out in the winter (attractive!) – what’s the solution/answer? Should I blame my itchy sweaters for irritating it?

Like one of my favorite bands Weezer once asked, “If you want to destroy my sweater?” The answer would be YES. Time to return that itchy sweater you got as a holiday gift because not only is it drying your skin out but it may also breaking it out! Your skin can be just as sensitive as your feelings. So treat it well and be kind to it. If something is constantly itching you or causing redness on your skin then it’s probably time to break up. Whether it’s the fabric itself, the detergent or even the perfume….irritation is irritable. Time to let it go. If you really must wear that wool sweater then protect yourself and your skin from the fibers by wearing a cotton shirt underneath.

Also remember the more bundled up you are the itchier you can get. Your “itch level” actually increases as your body heat increases. So its common to feel this in the winter months when we have on our wool sweater, our NorthFace jackets followed by our grandmas hand knitted scarves.

Hands – how often should we apply hand cream? What are some of the ingredients?

It’s best to get into the practice of applying hand cream right after you wash your hands. The skin on the back of your hands is thinner and can easily get dried in the winter. Washing your hands repeatedly can increase these chances. To avoid over washing hands, try using a hand sanitizer with aloe. Remember to use hand cream each time you wash your hands.

Some of the effective hand cream ingredients would be natural oils such as sunflower seed oil, avocado oil, and my personal favorite coconut oil. Shea butter, emollient based, is also good for hand cream because it forms a protective barrier between the skin and the dry cold air. Leading to less water loss through the skin and helping to maintain soft hands.


Are there any particular treatments that are specifically targeted at helping winter skin? What are they?

Exfoliation has many forms. Whether its mechanical exfoliation, with a microdermabrasion or a chemical exfoliation with a chemical peel. During the winter months, exfoliation is key in order to get rid of the dead cells on the surface of your skin so that moisturizers can work effectively.

There are many forms and types of exfoliation and to determine which would be best for you should be determined by your Winter Skin Assessment. My personal favorite is a Polish Microdermabrasion, which we perform at Blush Med. This method of Microdermabrasion is able to accomplish two things, first it helps to exfoliate the dead skin to slough off, and second it increases blood circulation, leaving your skin with a brighter glow. So no more dull dry skin.

This is also a time of year that Enzyme Peels are very popular and effective. Blush Med has many types of Enzyme Peels and to see which one is right for you we would start with an skin assessment. These peels are great at exfoliating and work optimally with one of our Medical Grade Facials. The goal would be manually exfoliate the skin and to use the Enzyme Peel to go deeper to brighten and smoothen the complexion.

Blush Med does complementary Skin Assessments for all new clients and all our bSKIN Club Members.


Any hair tips?

In the winter your scalp can get drier just like the rest of your skin. The decreased humidity can cause your dry scalp to peel. So lookout for dandruff, it may be time to also add a dandruff shampoo to fight these dry white flakes.

During the cold blistering winds, your hair may seem more dull and lacking shine. The best way to combat this is to add moisture. Remember when you use hot styling tools like hair curler, flat irons, or blow driers you are stripping moisture from your hair. So always prevent damage from happening by using heat protectant spray. One of my favorite things to do is massaging coconut oil on my hair for a few minutes to help lock in the moisture. This works really well in the winter when hair is usually drier and brittle.

Your hair tends to also grow slower in the winter, this comes from the hibernating mode your skin and body goes through in the cold. Blush Med has Hair Growth Light Therapy, which increases the oxygen supply at the root and helps not only sprout new hair growth on your scalp but also increase skin circulation to improve the texture and decrease dryness.



So, there’s that you guys. Go forth and conquer. And if you’re interested in spending some more QT with Dr. Lamba, you can find her here.