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6 Winter Beauty Boosters for Hair and Skin
Winter is the cruelest season — for all your body parts. Luckily indulgent scrubs and special treatments can reverse the damage
Winter is not my favorite season. Too much hygge makes a Florida girl meshuggah. If like me you are increasingly dispirited by dark afternoons, cracked hands and a wan reflection, take heart. Wintertime for non-skiers has a silver lining — it’s the ideal time to stay indoors and indulge in self-care, and some ambitious beauty maintenance. Here, TheCovey’s guide to winter beauty, from head to toe.
Free up your follicles
How many of us ignore our scalp, not giving it as much love as we should? Lest we forget, scalp care is skin care. Detoxing it by removing product buildup and other impurities unclogs follicles that can impede hair growth, cause itchiness or lead to lackluster locks. Maybe that’s why the vigorous shampoo at the hair salon feels so fantastic.
To achieve detox at home I tried Better Not Younger’s New Dawn Activated Charcoal Scalp Cleanser ($34). The ink black scrub is deposited onto the scalp by a built-in applicator brush. I flipped my head over making it easier to access the lower scalp and proceeded with a vigorous full-head rub. In addition to charcoal, alpha hydroxy acid and argan oil help clean and exfoliate the scalp without stripping your hair.
I followed this step with the rest of the Better Not Younger regimen for my hair type: Second Chance ($27), a low suds repairing shampoo for dry/damaged hair, and Silver Lining Purple Butter Masque ($35). Though I am blessed with thick hair, I mistreat it with color, straighteners and heat from styling tools. Miraculously it looks and feels pretty healthy, but over the years I’ve noticed it definitely behaves differently and has become a lot more work.
I liked that the BNY products are sulfate-free, so safe for color-, keratin- and chemically-treated hair – and was also impressed that they are vegan, paraben-free and cruelty-free as well. But, based on previous experiences, I was somewhat skeptical about how the sudless shampoo would perform. This formula has a milky texture, a light, pleasant fragrance, and I did my usual two shampoos. My hair and scalp felt clean after rinsing, so I moved on to the masque.
Silver Lining Masque is a thick, lavender-hued butter that feels ultra luxurious. The nutrient-rich ingredients include mango, macadamia, avocado, cupuacu and murumuru butters – the latter two are popular in the Amazon and are favorites of Venezuelan founder Sonsoles Gonzalez. “Five plant butters ultra-condition and soften hair,” she explained, and “lavender optics help tone down yellowing and brassiness and brighten gray, cool blonde and platinum tones.”
The post-blowout verdict? I was blown away. My blonde looked bright and sparkly, and my hair felt clean, nourished and not weighed down by product. It’s hard to explain, but my scalp felt like it was breathing. Shame on me for neglecting it for so long.
Special offer for Covey readers: Get 20% off Better Not Younger products with code “Covey20” through 3/31.
Another styling product/leave-in treatment I’ve recently discovered also extols the benefits of scalp care with the mantra: ‘Happy Scalp, Happy Hair’. HydroHair HydroMask ($40) from editorial hairstylist Jeorge Napoleon is a restorative, vitamin-packed secret agent for healthy hair that will end up looking perfectly coiffed. The aloe vera-based gel is sulfate and paraben-free, and while dubbed a ‘miracle for curls’ it is equally fantastic for smoothing temperamental hair like mine and soothing an irritated scalp. A little goes a long way and it enables DIYers to achieve a salon-worthy blow out that lasts for days. JLo is a fan, too. Enuff said.
Hydrate your cells
Whether it’s windburn, rosacea, dryness from indoor heating, or inexplicable breakouts, February Face is a real thing. As a girlfriend of mine said, “I look so pale and tired and old. Maybe I just need some Botox?”
While Botox and other injectables can fill in worry lines and plump wrinkles, there are more fundamental issues at play. “No amount of Botox matters if you are dehydrated and not getting enough sleep,” says Dr. Sofia Din, a board-certified Family Medicine doctor in Westchester County. And according to Din, everything impacts sleep — from screen time, to lack of exercise, menopause, and even ambient light pollution.
She says many women are chronically dehydrated and don’t know it. The reasons? All the caffeinated beverages or soda we drink, poor diets, stress, menstruation and prescription meds. The Cleveland Clinic notes that as we age our sense of thirst diminishes — meaning we don’t realize when our body needs to be rehydrated.
I am guilty of not drinking enough water because it feels like a chore, tastes boring and constant bathroom breaks are not a good thing when you’re navigating back to back meetings. Enter Hydrant, a lightly flavored rapid hydration mix that turns basic water into a virtual I.V. Since we lose water while we sleep, a.m. rehydrating is key to kick-starting brain and body. With 3x the electrolytes of a sports drink, and 80% less sugar, their website claims that one small packet supercharges your water to speed cellular absorption and hydrate you STAT.
First thing in the morning, before coffee, I pop a lemon-flavored Hydrant+ (which includes 100mg of caffeine) into my water bottle. Within minutes this groggy girl is fully present, looking visibly refreshed and feeling alert. Multiple five-star reviews mention skin benefits, and while the company does not tout itself as a beauty aid, drinking one every morning has made a noticeable difference in how I feel and look.
Special offer for Covey reader: get, 20% off a Hydrant Variety Pack of 30 sticks via this link.
As for Botox itself, Dr. Din literally wrote the book on it. In Do We Really Need Botox? she argues that an anti-aging regimen should be part of our annual health care maintenance — like going to the gym — because the aesthetic benefits positively impact both our mental and physical well-being. Her experience in geriatric and family medicine have shown her that looking old often translates to feeling old. “Your reflection shapes your perception,” she says.
Peel away your past
One excellent way to peel away the years and capitalize on a cold, snowy weekend is by booking a #FraxelFriday. The Fraxel laser treatment rejuvenates skin by removing discoloration, fine lines and sun damage. The in-office procedure can be uncomfortable, but not painful, and patients leave looking sunburnt and swollen. It’s best to go straight home, put on flannel pjs, and finally binge all five seasons of The Wire.
Board certified Manhattan Dermatologist Dr. Bruce Robinson recommends Fraxel as “an ideal treatment to undertake this time of year as you need to avoid sun for six weeks.” After about three days the skin peels away, taking with it brown marks, pre-cancerous lesions and other evidence of adulthood, revealing youthful, glowing skin. “It dials the clock backward,” Robinson says. CoveyClub founder Lesley Jane Seymour is a longtime Fraxel fan, and I can vouch for the results.
Exfoliate while you hibernate
The easiest way to combat dry, flaky winter skin is with mechanical exfoliation using moisturizing scrubs, some containing advanced ingredients that penetrate the skin’s surface. Some scrubs are gentle enough to be used every day, or rotated into your regimen several times a week, to keep pores clear, smooth and better able to absorb serums and moisturizers. For the face, Bia Exfoliating Wash ($45) from Codex Beauty is a gentle, creamy scrub that leaves your skin feeling toned and hydrated. The entire Bia line is plant-based, sustainably made in Ireland, and is a clean beauty all-star, suitable for any skin type. The light herbal scent is a calming way to start or end your day.
For the body, Tata Harper Smoothing Body Scrub ($79) is an all-natural winner. This luxe organic line from Vermont uses biodegradable ingredients (that won’t harm waterways) like salts, sugars, cranberry fibers and apricot seed powder to exfoliate the skin, and argan oil to moisturize. It works best if applied to dry skin pre-shower; it even helps prep legs for a closer shave. The gold-lidded jar looks chic in the shower, and a little goes a long way, so one jar should take you from Thanksgiving to Easter.
For anyone who regularly wears a sports bra, the rear t-zone between our shoulder blades can be prone to breakouts and bumps. Sweater weather is ideal for letting a professional tend to this hard to reach area. Back facials begin with a deep cleanse and exfoliation followed by extraction. Dr. Robinson counsels that any back treatment “include two ingredients: Glycolic Acid, which causes gentle exfoliation, and Hyaluronic Acid to insure rehydration.” For best results he also recommends two sessions one month apart.
We end with the ultimate exfoliatory experience – a treatment that does more than any other to prepare your feet for sandal season. Brought to these shores from Japan, and worthy of its cult-like status: Baby Foot Exfoliant Foot Peel ($25). There are imitators, but Baby Foot is the original, and it can be transformational. The first time I tried it was in the spring, a week before I started a new job. That was a mistake. At first I thought it didn’t work, until one day at the office I noticed that from the ankles down I looked like a leper. For the next 8-10 days, sheets of skin came rolling off my feet. It is epic, gross, and exhilarating. True to its name, when all is said and done, you have perfect, pink feet, as soft and smooth as a baby’s. So trust me – do this while you are still wearing Uggs and no one will be the wiser when you slip on your Havianas.
Have any winter beauty rituals you swear by? We’re all ears – please share!