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Acclimate your beauty regimen as seasons change


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Winter officially began Friday, but wind and lower temperatures --- even in Atlanta --- can batter skin and hair long before the scheduled date.

If you don't pay attention, you may end up with cracked skin, brittle hair and lots of irritation.

What's the primary task to remember in winter? Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.

"The air steals moisture from your body," said Dr. Neal Schultz, a New York-based dermatologist and author of "It's Not Just About Wrinkles" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang; $24.95). "You have lower temperatures and lower humidity, the wind is going to be stronger and colder. . . . All of these factors lead to drier skin because of increased moisture loss."

But replacing moisture does not mean slathering on oils. It means locking water into the skin or hair to prevent it from evaporating into the atmosphere. To help you get a head start on winterizing your beauty routine, we've consulted skin and hair care experts for tips. For the face

Schultz suggests a two-pronged attack: Protect and repair. Protection amounts to moisturizing and adding sun protection, while repair involves exfoliating and neutralizing free radicals.

Winter may mean fewer UVB rays, but UVA rays are still there, Schultz said. "Sunscreen is just as important in the winter as it is in the summer," he added.

In winter, it is also important to whisk away dead skin cells through exfoliation, such as a grainy scrub. One to try: Avia Glowing Gommage, Bamboo & Oat Bran for Dry/Mature skin ($42, aviaspa.com).

Since physical exfoliants may irritate some types of skin, Schultz prefers chemical exfoliants, either a glycolic acid (alpha hydroxy acid) or a salicylic acid (beta hydroxy acid).

He also suggests products that contain topical vitamin C, such as his C Complex Rescue Serum ($65, parkavenueskincare.com), to neutralize free radicals that can cause cell damage. Another option is the Origins Youthtopia Skin Firming Cream With Rhodiola ($47.50, available at Origins stores, origins.com), which helps boost cells' resistance to stress.

Follow the same routine every day by first washing the face (using fingertips only) for 10 to 15 seconds in warm water. Then apply products, from the lightest to heaviest (i.e. water based solutions, serums, gels, creams, ointments). Sunscreen should always be applied before moisturizer. Other tips:

> Spritz in flight: When traveling this season, Schultz suggests spritzing dry skin with water hourly to replenish moisture. You can use regular water in a spray bottle, or try Patricia Wexler's Skin-Quenching Calming Mist ($18, Bath & Body Works stores, bathandbodyworks.com), which adds botanical soothers and works for all skin types.

> Never lick your lips: Licking only robs lips of oil. Instead try Elemis Lip Rescue ($23 at Nordstrom stores, nordstrom.com), a mix of sunflower seed oil, cocoa butter and peppermint to soothe lips. For the hair

Jamal Hammadi, Los Angeles-based hairstylist and creator of Hamadi Beauty hair products, knows a lot about moisture. All his products, from conditioners to styling creams, contain shea butter --- one of the oldest and richest moisturizing ingredients around. "Shea butter to me is like the miracle drug," Hammadi said. "It is a natural moisturizer, which also has sunscreen."

Winter hair can be frizzy and staticky. Hammadi suggests washing it with cooler water because hot water only creates more dryness and frizz. "You want to maintain as much natural moisture in your hair as you can," he said.

Hammadi is opposed to everyday washing. If you can't break the habit, at least dilute your shampoo with conditioner or water, he said. For styling, Hammadi said to avoid artificial ingredients such as silicone, which can build up on the hair. "It creates dryness and ultimately breaks your hair," he said.

Deep condition with products like the Hamadi Shea Hair Mask ($39 for 8 ounces, hamadibeauty.com). Another favorite, Oscar Blandi's Trattamento al Fango ($24 for 5.3 ounces, available at Sephora), is a marine mud treatment, initially formulated to heal sore joints and muscles. It helps restore damaged follicles, especially of chemically treated hair.

If you can't afford a complete seasonal overhaul of your hair care regimen, such as buying an ionic blow dryer, Hammadi suggested investing in a daily conditioning product, such as Hamadi Shea Leave In styling cream ($22 for 4 ounces, hamadibeauty.com).

Another option is Matrix Biolage Hydra-Seal Leave-in Cream ($13.95 at Trade Secret in Cumberland Mall). For the body

Even normal skin can become susceptible to eczema, inflammation and other conditions. One of the biggest mistakes we make in winter begins in the bathroom.

"People tend to take long baths and showers to warm up, which are OK if you then moisturize the skin afterward," said Dr. Diane Berson, a New York dermatologist.

Berson suggests using a moisturizer with humectants such as glycerin and occlusive ingredients such as petroleum to help seal in moisture. One product that passes the test is Curel Natural Healing moisturizing lotion with lavender, chamomile and oatmeal extracts ($7.49 at food, drug and discount stores).

After a short bath or shower, pat skin dry and, while it is still damp to the touch, apply moisturizer. Berson also suggested moisturizing not once, but twice a day --- morning and night.

It is important to protect vulnerable areas of the body, said Berson, whose recommendations include applying moisturizer to the hands before putting on your gloves. One to try: Propoline Hand Cream With Olive and Cocoa Butter ($12 at Bath & Body Works).

Copyright 2006 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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