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Defend your skin from winter woes

/ Source: Self

Soothe your scalp

Hot water and shampoo strip your scalp of natural oils, leaving it parched and itchy. Once a week, trade a full wash for a condition-only session; massage conditioner into roots to relieve dryness. Still scratching? Itch-inducing histamines in your blood could be to blame, says Francesca J. Fusco, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. For relief, rinse hair with cool water to constrict blood vessels.

Get kissable lips

"We lick our lips to relieve dryness, but as saliva evaporates, it takes some of the lips' natural moisture, too," says Kenneth Beer, M.D., a derm in Palm Beach, Florida. Instead, apply a balm with glycerin or lanolin, the richest ingredients, plus sunscreen (UV rays can be drying).

Skip flavored versions, which tempt you to lick. And pass on cinnamon toothpastes; the spice's oil may create irritation.

Feel silky all over

OD'ing on lotion improves little when you apply it to a wall of scaly skin. Be sure to slough every other day with a sugar scrub. It's gentler than those with nuts and seeds. Top damp skin with a lotion rich in glycerin (one that is: Victoria's Secret Beauty Rush Body Swirl Cream, $12). And use a fresh razor on legs and underarms every three shaves; dull ones require pressure, which removes moisture.

Soften your hands

Extra sudsing is smart for warding off germs. But a too-quick rinse can allow soap (easily trapped under rings) to remain, and that's a recipe for dryness. Take off jewelry, wash with a hydrating soap, rinse 30 seconds, then apply lotion. Limit the use of antibacterial soaps; the active ingredient triclosan can be irritating, says Jeanine Downie, M.D., a derm in Montclair, New Jersey.

Deflake your feet

The skin on your heels is three times thicker than that on the rest of your body-and the drier the skin, the more sandpapery it feels. Creams that contain urea not only moisturize but exfoliate dry layers, too. Apply one before bed, followed by socks, then use a pumice to whisk away flakes during your morning shower. And don't go barefoot in boots, even those with warm, fuzzy linings. "The friction of any boot against skin will create calluses," Dr. Downie says.