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How to protect your skin during the cold, harsh weather

Did you know that brown skin has, on average, more layers of dead skin cells (termed the stratum corneum) than fair skin? A buildup of excess dead skin is part of the reason brown skin tends to develop an "ashy" appearance when dry. Revive the appearance of your skin by incorporating these 3 steps in your skincare routine:

Step 1: Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate!

In the wintertime especially, dry skin can make the skin appear dull but an exfoliator can remove dead skin and reveal brighter, new skin. Brown skin is more prone to buildup of dead skin cells so exfoliating is extra important. You can opt for gentle facial scrubs or use cleansers with acids such as lactic acid, glycolic acid or salicylic acid to achieve similar results.

Trying to decide on the best exfoliator for your skin type? Ultrasonic scrub brushes do a great job of exfoliating the skin but if you don't want to spend all of your money purchasing one, focus on an exfoliating cleanser instead. Glycolic acid is one of my favorite chemicals exfoliates because it can also help rid the skin of dark marks. If you use a physical scrub, make sure it contains very tiny beads. Larger particles like crushed crystals or rocks can tear or irritate the skin and may make discoloration worse.

Step 2: Moisturize

Consider using a stronger moisturizer on your body in the wintertime. The dry air coupled with the colder weather can do a number on your skin. As a general rule of thumb, the thicker the consistency of the moisturizer, the better job it does at hydrating your skin. I recommend using creams, not lotions, that come in jars because these tend to be thicker. If you can tolerate the feeling of petroleum jelly then even better! This old time favorite does a better job at moisturizing the skin than even the fanciest creams but it works better if your skin is still wet so use it when you're fresh out of the shower. For your face, I recommend sticking to oil-free moisturizers, especially if you're prone to acne.

Step 3: Keep sunscreen in your daily routine

There are many reasons to use sunscreen all year round, even if you have brown skin. Many people with brown skin suffer from dark marks that occur as a result of inflammation on the skin. Regular use of sunscreen stops dark marks from getting darker and can help even out skin tone. Sunscreen also slows skin aging can help prevent certain skin cancers (yes, brown skin gets skin cancer too, low risk does NOT mean no risk). Look for sunscreens that say "broad-spectrum" and are at least SPF 30 to get the most benefit.

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