Dr. Joseph Lam, a Vancouver-based clinical assistant professor in pediatrics and dermatology, says the difference in seasonal skincare is that skin is more prone to dryness during the colder months because of the furnace. Using a humidifier and moisturizing twice a day are the best ways to combat this. Below, Lam shares his top tips for parents looking to help their kids stay on top of their skincare this season.
1. Outdoor precautions. Don’t be concerned about redness on your little one’s face after being outside for a while — it’s simply the body’s reaction to being cold and working to pump more blood to the areas that need it. However, parents should be aware of the warning signs of frostbite, which include swelling, stinging, and burning.
2. Upgrade the moisturizer your kids use. Do you know the difference between an ointment, cream, and lotion? Lam says to go thicker during the wintertime and look for something with a lower water content — this often means the thicker the better. An ointment is the greasiest, followed by cream, and then a lotion, which is the thinnest and may be preferred in the summer months. Gels are generally not recommended for dry skin as they’re alcohol-based and evaporate quickly.
3. Cleanse with common sense. Rather than a hard and fast rule of bathing, Lam recommends cleansing only when your child looks or feels dirty. This helps fight increased dryness, as the more cleansers you use the more fat is stripped off skin. If your child has eczema, look for products created or intended for use by people with the condition — the Eczema Society of Canada seal of acceptance is an easy way to be sure.
4. Avoid product panic. “Just because something is natural, doesn’t mean it gets a free pass,” says Lam. Kids can experience an allergic reaction even with natural products, many of which are still being tested for use on the skin. Ever-popular olive oil was shown to cause redness in a recent study, making coconut oil a better choice. Similarly, concerns over parabens and sulfates aren’t supported by good data. Despite widespread alarm, Lam says not everything that is taken out of products needs to be.
5. Make skincare age appropriate. Be careful with babies’ skin in the cold, as they can’t generate as much heat or communicate their needs. As your child gets older, explain a recommended skincare routine step by step. Don’t brush off disobedience as rebelliousness — your child may simply not understand, the products may sting, or they could be embarrassed about their skin. Talk to your child and encourage good behaviour with a fun reward.