The Skinny on Skin Care

Expert tips to protect and rejuvenate your skin during the dry winter—and all year-round.

Even as winter sets in, Colorado Springs residents don’t slow down. They take advantage of the sun’s regular appearances and the promises of snow. But the dipping temperatures, high altitude and sunshine that are great for the slopes and Front Range trails are not so great for our skin.

“There’s less humidity in the air during the winter months,” says Dr. Renata Prado of Vanguard Skin Specialists. “Ultimately it causes dry, itchy skin. In more severe cases, it can lead to inflammation.”

The stratum corneum, or outer layer of skin, is our main protective barrier. It’s also the surface layer that is vulnerable to the elements, dryness and dysfunction. “One way this can happen is when protective oils in the stratum corneum are lost and the water that is normally present in the skin is allowed to escape,” Prado explains. “As the stratum corneum dries out, it shrinks, and as it shrinks, small cracks can occur. This exposes the underlying living cells to irritating substances and germs in the environment.”

Skin cancer is a real threat as well. Dr. Nathan Trookman of Colorado Springs Dermatology Clinic sees it all the time. “While living at high altitudes in the Springs, we need year-round UV protection for our skin,” he says. In other words, sunscreen isn’t just for ski days, and lotion isn’t just for the hot tub.

Inflamed, damaged skin is preventable, and the best strategy is daily care—regardless of the season or the weather, regardless of cloud cover or clear skies. According to Prado and Trookman, here’s where to start for skin care protection from the Colorado climate and rejuvenation from the Colorado lifestyle:


To protect the skin barrier, keep it hydrated. It takes only a few minutes to get dehydrated, even after a shower. Instead of toweling off completely, pat off excess water and moisturize damp skin with lotion or bath oil. If your skin is thinner due to age or sun damage, use a thicker ointment or cream to help it retain moisture. Many moisturizers for your face and neck include SPF, and don’t forget your hands.

Apply Sunscreen

When it comes to sunscreen, we’ve come a long way, baby. Zinc oxide is no longer a goopy, white paste reserved for the noses of dutiful lifeguards. New advances in this physical blocker mean that its micronized form goes on clear while providing the best, broad-spectrum protection. Trookman says these new physical blockers are superior to chemical blockers for protection against the broadest range of UVA and UVB rays. He recommends looking for a minimum of 7 percent zinc oxide. And don’t fall for the myth that vitamin D deficiency means you shouldn’t use sunscreen. We get all we need in less than 10 minutes of sunshine, and a real D deficiency requires an oral supplement.

Get Antioxidants

Antioxidants bind free radicals to reduce photo- aging and wrinkles. To get these benefits, apply topical vitamin C on clean skin in the morning. If you think vitamin A derivatives, such as Retin-A, deserve more buzz than vitamin C, think again. “Retinoids make you photosensitive, which is not helpful in Colorado’s sun and glare,” Trookman says. “Vitamin C is photo-protective. So here in Colorado, C is the way to go.

Skin Care Shop

It’s a cold, dry world out there. These products can help.

skin care products
Photo by Dustin Price.

Herbal Treatments

Body Butter ($16), Eye Serum ($27), and Face Lotion ($25) from Anna’s Apothecary are made by hand respectively to nourish skin, moisturize all types of facial skin, and relieve puffiness and wrinkling around the eyes.
Anna’s Apothecary,

Antioxidant Anti-Aging

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic antioxidant serum binds free radicals to rejuvenate skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles ($64).
The Shoppe at Colorado Springs Dermatology,

Superior Sunscreen

Want Dr. Nathan Trookman’s recommendations for zinc oxide-based sunscreen? Elta MD Broad Spectrum Sunscreens are medical grade in multiple formulations for various skin types ($24-$46). ColoreScience Sunforgettable conveniently brushes on micronized zinc oxide protection like makeup ($64).
The Shoppe at Colorado Springs Dermatology,

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