Most of the time we consider ourselves fortunate to have four distinct seasons in the Inland Northwest. Yet winter's dry, dark months challenge our bodies. Contending with the flu and nasty colds saps our strength. Skin grows dry, sallow and flaky. Hair becomes brittle, frizzy and more prone to breakage. It's hard to feel good when you look dreary, so we turned to several local experts for their best tips on how to keep the winter beauty blues at bay.
The first rule of winter makeup application, according to Julie Farley, who's worked as a makeup artist for 28 years and owns The Make-Up Studio in downtown Spokane, is to make sure the canvas — your skin — is healthy.
"Your makeup can only look as good as your skin looks," Farley emphasizes.
Now that it's dark before 5 pm and that warm glow of summer has long since faded, most Inland Northwesterners are experiencing some level of dry skin. Farley says that, combined with the naturally paler winter complexion, means women are looking to achieve more coverage with their foundation. In attempting to better mask variations in skin pigmentation that can become more visible in winter, Farley often sees women apply more foundation than necessary, a technique that usually makes problem areas look worse. Instead, she recommends a foundation or mineral powder with some luminosity or light shimmer to it, versus a matte foundation.
"A little dewiness and luminosity in winter gives the illusion of more hydrated skin," she says.
Also during winter, Farley suggests switching from a powder to a cream blush, which adds to the appearance of healthy, glowing skin.
"Some people think cream blush is synonymous with 80-year-old ladies without their blush blended in, but it looks great on younger skin," she says.
Damage to hair caused by cold-weather elements can be easily overlooked or forgotten until it's too late. No one wants to be stuck trying to repair and hide broken and brittle strands until the average temperature climbs above freezing.
At Salon Nouveau, a longtime fixture in downtown Spokane, co-owner and stylist Terri Brazil explains there's more to winter hair care than the hair itself. She sees lots of clients come in with damaged hair that could partly be caused by a dry scalp.
"When the climate changes, and because we're so dry here, keeping your scalp moisturized and using a scalp treatment oil is key," Brazil says.
Deep conditioning treatments on a weekly basis, whether in a salon or at home, can also help with breakage, frizziness and other damage caused by low humidity and heat styling, she says. Brazil recommends, once a week, applying a heavy conditioner after shampooing hair, then wrapping wet hair in a hot towel and placing a plastic bag over the towel to trap moisture. Then she says to let the conditioner soak into hair until the towel cools.
For women who use flat irons or curling irons on a regular basis, Brazil says using a good heat protectant spray is always crucial to protect hair, not just during winter.
Keeping locks trimmed at the ends with haircuts every 3 to 8 weeks, depending on the length, is also a key to maintaining damage-free, healthy-looking hair, she adds. Finally, she says not to underestimate wearing a hat, which protects hair from potentially damaging elements in addition to keeping you warm.
As skin is exposed to cold, dry winter air, it can lose moisture fast. That means it's time to rethink your cleaning and moisturizing regimen. Julia Logie, assistant spa director at Spa Paradiso, says an easy winter switch to keep skin less stressed is using a cream cleanser instead of foaming soap on both the face and body. She says most cream-based cleansers also contain alpha hydroxy acid, which works as an exfoliant.
To gently exfoliate dry, flaky skin over the whole body without too much extra effort, Logie recommends using a body brush or getting an extension handle for a Clarisonic cleansing brush to use while in the shower with whatever soap you already use.
Farley advises women — and men — to step up their facial moisturizers by one or two levels, depending on skin type. Using a thicker moisturizing cream at night helps skin rehydrate and repair from being exposed to the cold, dry air and icy wind of Inland Northwest winters, she says.
To ensure that makeup goes on smoothly over thirsty winter skin, Farley encourages women to use an exfoliating and hydrating mask at least once a week. She likes the GlamGlow mud mask ($69), which offers noticeable results after one use, making skin brighter and smoother. Farley swears by it for special occasions like weddings or parties.
For even more exfoliating, both Logie and Urbanna Natural Spa & Salon owner Linda Biel say a clinical or at-home facial peel can work wonders for dull winter skin. Gentle skin peels help break down the dry exterior barrier of the skin that can build up over time as the face is exposed to cold air and wind, Biel says.
Adds Logie, "It's really great to get rid of hyperpigmentation or discoloration you may have gotten from the sun during summer, and it does a great job getting any dry or uneven patches off. It's a great thing to transition from summer to winter." ♦