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Combating the dryness of winter

Tips from local beauty and health professionals can help you beat the harshness of the winter season

Posted: January 14, 2010 10:13 p.m.
Updated: January 15, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Valencia Glo stylist Rosalyn Murphy, left, with client Katie Boswell.

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If you get rough skin and flyaway hair during Southern California's mild, yet very dry winters, you're not alone.

"My clients get really dry patches. They don't drink as much water when it's cold out, which causes dehydration, and that can make skin feel rougher and older," said Angela Lark Landy, esthetician and licensed sugar practitioner at Stevenson Ranch's Lavish salon.

"It's treatable but you have to step up your regimen."

According to Lark Landy, that includes adding facials and hydrating treatments for your hands during the winter season. Lavish offers an oxygen facial for $85, which involves airbrushing an olive-based oil onto the face, then applying a clear plastic mask and pumping in oxygen through a tube.

"The oxygen helps seal in and restore collagen levels," Lark Landy said.

Another popular choice is the paraffin facial, where a towel is dipped into the warm wax and placed on the face (holes are cut out for eyes, nose, and mouth). Much like the hand treatment, it restores vital moisture to the skin. The hand treatment can usually be added to any facial on for $20; now through February, Lark Landy will provide it as a complimentary service with a facial.

For fun, inexpensive ways to treat dry facial skin at home, Lark Landy suggested creating masks out of everyday food ingredients such as oatmeal, eggs and avocado.

"Cook oatmeal, then let it cool. Add an egg white and squeeze some lemon juice into the mix, then stir and apply to the face.
Keep it on for about 15 to 20 minutes until it dries completely, but if it itches, take it off immediately. Then rinse with warm water," she said.

Whether it's your face or body, if you have regular to dry skin, Lark Landy recommended purchasing an alpha-hydroxy lotion for daily use, which exfoliates and smoothes away roughness. Look for alpha-hydroxy as the first or second ingredient on the label.

"Many lotions claim that they have alpha-hydroxy, but if it's listed at the bottom, you're not going to get that much," she said.
Lark Landy is fond of Lac-Hydrin and AmLactin lotions for the body; the latter is a particularly prudent purchase.

"You can get a big bottle at Costco for $15 or so. I use it myself - it's my hidden secret," she said.

For hands, Lark Landy suggested a lotion or cream with shea butter, nature's most hydrating nut, listed as the top ingredient. The heavy emollient nature of shea butter penetrates the skin instead of just sitting on the surface and is remarkably effective, she said.

Those with oily skin should wash their face with an oil-free product, such as a gel wash or mineral cleanser, then apply a beta-hydroxy lotion (salicylic acid would be a key ingredient).

"You can have skin that's oily, but dry, so don't use any products that leave your skin feeling tight and dehydrated.

Some people put too much benzoyl peroxide on their skin, but your skin does need oil to keep the pores healthy," Lark Landy said.

A homemade hydrating remedy for oily skin is three parts water mixed with one part lavender essential oil; for dry skin, the same ratio would apply, replacing the lavender with rosewater essential oil.

Lark Landy isn't the only beauty practitioner in town combating the seasonal harshness. Dan Csicasi, stylist and co-owner of Valencia's Salon Glo, finds that follicles also suffer.

"Hair is a lot like skin, it can get really dry in the winter. My clients complain about it all the time," Csicasi said.

Salon Glo offers a standalone Kerastase hydrating treatment for $35; clients getting a haircut receive it as a complimentary service.
Kerastase, a well-known and highly-respected line of hair products imported from Europe, requires salons to become certified to offer the service, which involves hair analysis before the appropriate treatment is applied.

"We have treatments for dry hair, oily hair, dry frosted hair, dry color-treated hair and so on," Csicasi said.

The hair is first shampooed and a conditioning treatment is worked in, with the client spending time under the drier for maximum absorption.

The conditioner is rinsed out and an Oleo-Fusion spray is applied to the hair before it is blow-dried. "This is just the best product, it's hard for me to recommend any others," Csicasi said.

A hair-hydrating service that Csicasi does recommend is the increasingly popular Brazilian blow out, a three-hour process that includes application of an extreme conditioning treatment that is blow dried and flat ironed into the hair.

The Brazilian blowout deeply moisturizes hair at the follicle level and keeps it protected from the effects of humidity for up to three months at a cost of $350.

According to Csicasi, the price is well worth it.

"It's amazing. It adds so much shine and manageability to curly, frizzy, or just plain unruly hair," Csicasi said.

At Valencia Wellness Center, manager Kim Wahl tries to alleviate her customers' concerns about winter's harsh effects on skin and hair by treating what she considers the source.

"Yes, we have the heaters cranked up and the humidity levels are lower, but dryness is a symptom that needs to be addressed internally," Wahl said. "If your hair is dry and unmanageable and your nails are breaking, you want to look inside and see what's nutritionally missing."

Usually, Wahl continued, a lack of fish or seed oils, essential fatty acids, or Vitamin D can be the culprit and depending on what's flowing in your veins, supplements might be the answer.

"I am a big believer in the blood-type diet, which determines what the best kind of oil is for you. For example, if you're an A-blood type, you want to avoid anchovies or fish-based oils," she said.

For those looking for external relief, Wahl suggested keeping it as simple as olive or coconut oil applied directly to the skin or if you're going to use a commercial lotion, to make sure it is free of preservatives, colors, and perfumes and contains food-grade ingredients.

"It should be so clean that you could eat it, because that's exactly what your skin is going to do," she said.

Lavish Salon and Spa, 25269 The Old Road, Unit K, Stevenson Ranch. (661) 253-8483. Salon Glo, 23961 Newhall Ranch Road, Valencia. (661) 799-9300. Valencia Wellness, 23548 Lyons Ave., Newhall. (661) 255-6217.

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