So what's a fashionista — or anyone who wants to keep her hair, skin, and nails looking fab — to do?
Personally, I'm a fan of the old-school remedies, like slathering cocoa butter on ashy knees and elbows (I'm all about Queen Helene) and using copious amounts of mayonnaise as hair conditioner. And there are many practical uses for petroleum jelly in sub-zero temperatures, from smearing Vaseline on chapped lips to rubbing it into dry feet before covering them with socks at night.
These are my favorite ways to keep my beauty regimen up when the hawk is out, but I still consulted with local experts for the best ways to keep you from feeling scaly when the mercury dips too far south.
I love taking hot showers as a surefire way to warm up, but that's a big no-no, says Colleen Sparks, an aesthetician at Dream Spa & Waxing in the Le Reve Salon & Barbershop in Cherry Hill. All that does, Sparks says, is rob skin of much-needed moisture. Not only should you cut down on your steamy shower time, it's important to apply moisturizer (my favorite is almond-scented Jergens) to damp skin. Sparks' favorite is Aveeno Skin Relief Moisture Repair Cream. "They make really rich body creams," Sparks says. "It is everything you need this time of year."
Your face gets the brunt of the painfully cold air blasts because it's the most difficult part of your body to cover up. That's why, Sparks says, it's important to use a hydrating cleanser. I'm a fan of Pond's Cold Cream Cleanser. But if you prefer to upgrade, Sparks suggests the hydrating cleanser from Dermaesthetics Beverly Hills. It retails for $54, but Dream Spa sells it for $40.
The weather outside may be frightful, but the sun is still strong. That's why Korin Korman, owner of Chestnut Hill's 3000BC Spa, says it's important to use a moisturizer infused with SPF. Korman advises her clients to use a tinted BB cream that has SPF in it (my editor likes Dr. Jarts, which has a 45 SPF). Now that's a trip worth trying.
To help with exfoliation — definitely a must during these winter months — Korman recommends clients use an electric facial scrubber to slough off dead skin. You don't have to spend a lot on these. I bought one for my niece for Christmas at Five Below for $5. But if you are serious about conquering flakiness, Korman suggests 3000BC's Sonic Facial Scrubber for $69.
It looks like we'll be spending a lot of time indoors this weekend, so you will have time to whip up a DIY mask. Sparks shared with us this recipe: Blend half a cup of water with half a cup of warm oatmeal that's been cooked for two minutes. As the oatmeal and water mixture cool, add one teaspoon of honey. Once it's completely cool, apply to your face and leave it on for 10 minutes.
We know the damage heat does to our hair, but excessive cold can leave locks dry and brittle, too. This is the time of year to use an oil-based leave-in conditioner. I swear by Palmer's Olive Oil Formula ($8.71) for my locks. Giovanni Mele, owner of Giovanni & Pileggi in Washington Square, is a believer in products made with shea butter and seed oils. Mele's top pick: Amika's Nourishing Mask ($28). "It deeply conditions, hydrates, and restores hair to its natural vibrancy."
This is not the time of year to wash your hair every day, Mele added. Too much shampoo can strip hair of its natural oils and dry it out something fierce. Instead, Mele said, try to wash it three times a week. Unless, of course, you are fan of hot yoga. Then wash as necessary, and don't forget to condition.
Natasha Somalia, owner of Mount Airy's Covered the Salon, discourages her clients from blowouts when it's this cold. "Protective styles: rod sets, braids, buns, even tight curls hold moisture in better," Somalia said. "That will make it less prone to breakage."
To maintain moisture in hair overnight, Somalia added, it's also important to sleep with hair covered. Yes, a satin bonnet may limit the sexy. But, Somalia said, it prevents hair from sweating out, getting tangled, and losing that much-needed moisture.
After washing your hands — which we hope you are doing frequently during flu season — be sure to use hand cream, Weishar said. Nothing keeps my hands softer and ash-free better than Kiehl's Ultimate Strength Hand Salve. (Speaking of Kiehl's, the New York apothecary company expanded its bitter-weather-fighting Crème de Corps collection, introducing both a dry and a cleansing oil.) And though this seems obvious, it bears repeating: "Don't leave the house without gloves," Weishar said.
My cuticles split like the devil when it gets this cold. The remedy, said Onisha Claire, owner of Koco Nail Salon in East Falls, is too put a few drops of tea tree oil into the water you soak your hands in for your manicure. You can also use it in between manis. "It helps heal cracked cuticles, fights inflammation, and keeps fingers supple," Claire said.