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Published January 11th, 2016
Beauty Keys
Ariel Marie Key is a beauty and skin care consultant in Moraga. Reach her at moragafacials.com, arielmariekey@gmail.com or (925) 388-6021.

Despite the recent wet weather, we Californians know that a prolonged cold and dry snap may not be far away. We feel extra cold and getting out of bed seems offensive, and when we do lumber to the window we look out and discover the frost.
A lot of us can sense the effect of this frost before getting out of bed, though, because the air has changed overnight and we feel it on our skin. The lips can suddenly be chapped or split, skin might be rough and itchy or even peeling a bit on the face, and the tissue in our throat and lungs might be irritated, feeling like an oncoming cold. This is the dry snap.
In my office clients call in saying their skin is suddenly peeling, dry, itchy, or wondering if they are having a reaction. And to each of them I get to explain the Lamorinda Dry Snap Effect.
We go to bed having experienced many days and weeks of mild weather and then we wake up with the temperature suddenly dropped uncomfortably low, much lower than we have become accustomed to in the last couple weeks. That sudden drop in temperature is also slightly offensive to the water molecules in the air. When the temperature drops too suddenly the water molecules suddenly condense. Remember water turns to ice when it gets cold... water vapor turns to water when it gets too cold (condensation on plants, windows, and cars) and then that water can turn to ice (frost on plants, windows, and cars). So the moisture literally drops out of the air. This leaves some very dry air. Now, the warmer molecules of water in our skin get shoved to the surface and evaporate when the air gets parched like this, similar to how a dehydrator works. So we wake up feeling like dried meat.
Let me explain moisturizer. Moisturizer, although there are thousands of brands attempting to differentiate themselves, can be summed up as a layer of oil that prevents water from evaporating from our skin. It is like creamy plastic wrap. Our skin normally produces its own oil that functions as this barrier in healthy skin, but that barrier is impaired with the use of soap (which is desirable to use for most of us), hot showers, use of acids in skin care products, inflammation that constricts the pores, or just having small pores (the definition of having technically dry skin). Moisturizer helps alleviate the effects of the cold snap on dry skin, but on these special days in a Lamorinda winter when the temperature drops abruptly, wearing moisturizer helps but doesn't prevent the drying of the skin. It would be like wearing moisturizer then sitting in a dehydrator for six hours. One might fare a little better than their friend who didn't wear moisturizer but it is too intense of an environment to contend with. Instead we must focus on healing that dry cracked skin.
The first step to healing is to stop the water loss. I know this might sound crazy, but on this, the coldest day of the winter, the last thing I recommend if you have dry itchy chapped skin is to take a long hot shower. This will aggravate the problem by removing more or all of the oils from your skin and you really need that oil to prevent the loss of more moisture from your skin. So I recommend moisturizing. If you can't turn down the hot shower another trick is to put moisturizer on before the shower and use minimal to no soap, then re-moisturizer after the shower.
The next step is to rehydrate. Drink more fluids - warm fluids absorb better - and eat more healthy fats like olive oil, cod liver oil, coconut oil or even butter (depending on which diet you ascribe to) with some winter vegetables.
Continue to support your impaired skin barrier with moisturizer while working on rehydrating internally. You might want to consult a specialist if your skin doesn't repair itself within a couple weeks.

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