Winter Skin Care Q & A With Dr. Rivers


Dr. Rivers answers five of his most commonly asked patient questions about winter (cold weather) skin care.  As always, if you have any inquiries please email us at

  1. What is your favourite tip for patients dealing with dry skin year round?  What about just during the winter? 

    1. Do not over wash -  too much washing takes away the natural oils that lubricate your skin.
    2. Use a good moisturizer a few times a day.  
    3. In the winter make sure that the room humidity is not too low.
    4. And drinking a lot of water won't affect dry skin!
  2. What steps need to be taken to ensure good skin in the colder months? How can one avoid unhealthy skin?

    The best way to avoid unhealthy skin is to prevent problems in the first place.  This means avoid smoking (this damages the elastic and collagen fibers of the skin – not only on the face but elsewhere on the body too), and avoiding unprotected sun exposure by using a high SPF (sun protective factor) sunscreen.  For good skin care, one should use a mild cleanser (using a surfactant rather than a soap), topical antioxidants (vitamins C and E), and a moisturizer. 

    The Riversol anti-aging trio kit includes a gentle, pH balanced cleanser, an Vitamin C & E serum, and a moisturizer to provide enough hydration for the Canadian winter. The trio for normal / dry, and very dry skin types includes a cream cleanser which provides extra hydration while cleansing.

  3. During winters, I love to take hot baths? Does the water temperature affect skin?

    During the winter, it is important to try and avoid too hot baths or showers, as extremes of temperature can accelerate water loss from the skin.  This is especially true when the home environment has low humidity (less than 30%) to begin with.  Therefore if you are compelled to soak in a hot tub, don’t linger too long and use a moisturizer immediately after you pat dry to prevent the skin from drying out even more.

  4. Can you please tell me about ways to deal with sensitive skin in the winter?

    Dry, rough and sensitive skin often happen together – especially during the winter months.  People who suffer with a skin condition known as rosacea (symptoms include redness, flushing and acne like changes to the facial skin) are especially prone to sensitive skin and this can worsen in the cold winter weather.  As well, people who are prone to eczema may also have sensitive skin that worsens during winter. This is characterized by a stinging sensation when certain products are applied to the skin.  To minimize this, a person should look for a gentle skin care system that does not have a lot of chemicals known to irritate the skin.  I recommend Riversol Skincare because this line of products contains ingredients that are generally well tolerated by the skin.  As well, this product line utilizes thujaplicin, a molecule derived from the pacific red cedar tree.  This ingredient can help to reduce inflammation associated with sensitive skin.

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  5. Winter means I get a lot less sun, how can I get the right amount of Vitamin D? Should I be wearing sunscreen and what is the right type?

    Although winter means a lack of sunshine, you have to remember that ultraviolet radiation increases with altitude and therefore you can still get burnt in the winter if you are skiing on a sunny day.  As well, although ultraviolet B (UVB) is minimal during the winter months, UVA radiation from the sun (causes wrinkles, aging of the skin and contributes to skin cancer) remains stable throughout the year.  Therefore, it is reasonable to recommend that people wear a sunscreen on the face year round.  A sunscreen should be at least SPF 30 and it should be applied at least 15 minutes before going outdoors.  Further, the sunscreen should be labelled “broad spectrum” so that you know it is protecting from both UVB and UVA.  With regards to vitamin D, many people have low levels of this vitamin.  Many factors affect the levels of vitamin D in the body including age, body weight, skin color, location of residence, and clothing use.  Several studies have failed to show that routine use of sunscreen reduces vitamin D levels in the blood.  However, a simple and safe means to achieve vitamin D is through the use of a supplement.  Recommendations vary but it would be reasonable to start with a daily intake of 1000 IU a day. 

  1. Dealing with dry skin year round and during the winter
  2. Ensuring good skin in the colder months and avoiding unhealthy skin
  3. Water temperature and skin
  4. Sensitive skin in the winter
  5. Vitamin D and sunscreen in the winter