(CNN) – When the weather turns frigid, your survival instincts kick in. You jump into a scalding shower, slather on medicated lip balm and blow-dry your hair into submission. Little did you know these common beauty blunders only perpetuate a vicious cycle.
If your skin looks like a crocodile purse and your hair resembles a lion’s mane, your winter beauty routine needs to refocus on one thing: moisture. After months of cold, the time to switch gears is now.
“With the drier weather, there’s less humidity in the air,” says SELF magazine’s beauty editor, Nicole Catanese. “It really comes down to going back to the basics.”
Here are this season’s top tips for your hair, lips, skin and nails.
Your scalp produces fewer oils in the winter so shampooing every day isn’t necessary, says Genevieve Monsma, beauty director of MORE magazine. Wear a shower cap or if you feel dirty, just rinse with warm water and use conditioner.
Static is often the biggest hair problem in cold weather. Catanese recommends using a leave-in spray conditioner immediately after getting out of the shower, then drying your hair on a medium setting. If you’re still getting fly-aways, consider a deep-moisturizing hair mask once a week.
Cheap fix: Buy a bottle of vitamin E oil from your local health food store and comb it through your hair before hitting the sack.
You’ve probably heard that you can be “addicted” to lip balm. Not true, Monsma says, but if you feel that way, your balm is covering up an underlying issue.
“There’s a barrier layer on your skin,” she says. “When it’s very dry outside, that barrier gets disrupted, the layer gets tears and holes, so any moisture you put on your lips seeps right back out.”
The solution is finding a hydrating balm with lipids that will give the barrier layer time to heal. Stay away from long-lasting lip color formulas and balms with menthol.
Cheap fix: Vaseline keeps dry air out and prevents you from licking your lips.
Apparently being a beauty editor requires a background in chemistry. Monsma and Catanese spouted off hard-to-spell compounds like ceramides, lactic acids, peptides and glycerin as the best ingredients to look for in skin moisturizers.
What does that mean? Skip the anti-aging aisle (the chemicals designed to stop wrinkles can be drying) and check for vitamin E.
What happens in the shower matters too. First, pass on the boiling water. “You can douse your whole body in cream but if you totally stripped your body of that protective barrier, it’s going to take a lot to get it back to that natural balance,” Catanese warns. Then switch your soap for a creamier body wash that will add moisture as it cleanses.
Cheap fix: A humidifier for your bedroom will replace the moisture that your heater sucks out of the air, stopping the problem before it starts.
“I’ve had a number of nail gurus tell me that oil is better than lotion,” Monsma says about keeping your hands moisturized.
Monsma recommends rubbing some into your cuticles before pulling your gloves on to head out the door. Similar to wearing socks on your feet over lotion to bed, it gives the moisture time to absorb before you hit the office.
Cheap fix: Olive oil from the grocery store works just as well as special nail oils.
From the inside out
We all know that with beauty, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. No, seriously.
“One of the best things you can do is to get plenty of omega 3 fatty acids,” says Carin Gorrell, nutrition director at SELF magazine.
Gorrell recommends upping your intake of foods like salmon, almonds and sardines (um… or tuna) to help fight inflammation caused by dryness.
Other nutrients to make sure you’re getting: vitamin C and vitamin E. Vitamin C is good for building healthy collagen and can be found in citrus fruits, red bell peppers and broccoli. Vitamin E, found in sunflower seeds and nuts, is an antioxidant that’s found in the top layers of the skin. It guards the membrane by holding water in.
Also important is biotin. The vitamin is necessary in cell growth, which slows during the winter. Find it in egg yolks and peanuts.
Cheap fix: Drink more water. “Your skin cells are made up mostly of water,” Gorrell says. “It kind of heals you from the inside out.”