There’s no doubt about it — Canada’s harsh winters can wreak havoc on your skin. The cold air outdoor and the dry, heated air indoor means your skin may feel as if it is constantly under attack. However, there are steps you can take to protect your skin so it can better protect you when the mercury dips.

Moisturizing is key

Whether your idea of a winter wonderland is schussing down the ski slopes or staying inside by the fire with a good book, winter requires that you moisturize more often to avoid dry, itchy, or even cracked skin. To keep your skin healthy and resilient, apply moisturizer. This can be done while the skin is damp after showering or bathing, or any time that is convenient and easy to remember. Generally heavy moisturizing creams with a high oil content are not necessary; creams that are light but contain ceramides or other natural moisturizing factors are enough. Lips and heels also often become cracked or split during winter months. Applying petroleum jelly or a lip balm can protect lips or help dry, cracked lips recover. To put your best foot forward, use heavy, oil-based moisturizing creams or products containing urea to soothe damaged heels.

Be sun smart

With Canada’s reduced hours of daylight in the winter months, it can be easy to forget that the sun’s rays can cause damage to skin. With the sun reflecting off snow and ice, the risk can double! The CDA recommends using at least a SPF 30 broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) year-round. Remember to apply liberally and often, as most people under-apply sunscreen and don’t achieve the protection they need. Protecting the skin from ultraviolet rays in winter will reduce the risks of skin cancer and photo-aging, and help ward off the unfortunate “raccoon-eyes” that can come from wearing sunglasses or goggles.