The holidays are a crazy time for everyone.

Before you can even begin celebrating, gifts have to be bought and wrapped, travel plans have to be made and the ingredients for Christmas dinner have to be prepped. Though it’s a fun time, the running around can cause stress, and the stress, combined with the cooler temperatures, can lead to problems with your skin.

Dr. Anita Saluja, dermatologist, says that the winter season often causes dry skin due to the drier weather and reduced humidity. “Drier skin can cause more rashes such as psoriasis and eczema flares,” she said. “We tend to see that [rashes and eczema flares] more in the winter. Plus people are covered up a little bit more, which is good from a skin cancer standpoint, but can exacerbate rashes.”

Hydration is key to healthy skin year-round, but especially in the chilly winter months. Dr. Saluja recommends using a hydrating cleanser and a hydrating cream. She said to keep an eye out for ceramides, an ingredient that helps form the skin’s barrier and retain moisture. According to Dr. Saluja, this ingredient is found in the skincare brand Cerave which can be found in drugstores. Another key ingredient she said to look for is hyaluronic acid. It is naturally found in the skin, and it is also used to keep moisture locked in. Dr. Saluja said medical-grade skincare products such as Skinmedica Dermal Repair Cream contain this ingredient.

Dr. Saluja

Clearly, moisture is one of the most important and simplest ways to keep your skin from cracking. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends applying moisture immediately after washing your skin in order to lock in moisture. Moisturizers such as ointments, creams and lotions work by trapping existing moisture in your skin. AAD recommends applying moisture immediately after bathing or even just washing your hands. When showering, keep the water warm instead of hot and apply enough cleanser to remove dirt and oil, but do not put a thick layer on. Too much cleanser can dry the skin out.

Exfoliation is important for removing dead skin; however, it can dry out the skin during the chilly winter season (this seems to be a recurring theme). Dr. Saluja explained that while some exfoliants can be harmful to skin during the winter, exfoliants with lactic acid exfoliate to remove dull skin and also provide hydration. For oily skin with clogged pores, Dr. Saluja recommends using toner because it helps serums and other skincare products better penetrate the skin. She also recommends using a Clarisonic brush, which can be found on Amazon, Ulta or Sephora. This helps in enhancing the cleansing of the face.

Dr. Saluja reminds that is important to pay attention to the skin’s needs. Every person’s skin is unique and has different needs and should be taken care of year-round. So, though the holidays might have you spinning like a top, make sure to carve out some time for your skin. This is one of the best gifts you can give yourself this holiday season.

Anita Saluja, MD is a board-certified dermatologist in Melbourne, FL. She earned her medical degree from the University of Michigan and received three years of dermatology training at Emory University in Atlanta, GA.