Protect your skin year round. Exposure to the dry air and increased UVA waves in the winter months can age skin quickly. Rosacea (redness) often worsens in winter, as do fine lines around the eyes and mouth. The drier air in winter pulls moisture from the skin's natural protective barrier (or mantle). The mantle is what keeps the skin cells plump and healthy. Once the mantle is breached, the skin is exposed to damaging effects from UVA waves and particulates in the air. UVA waves are the ultra violet waves from the sun that are associated with aging skin. During the winter, the sun is lower in the sky. This is when UVA waves are the strongest. UVA waves are associated with producing wrinkles and skin cancers. UVB waves are the ultra violet rays associated with burning the skin, when the sun is high in the sky. While both UVA and UVB can damage the skin, it's the UVA that does the silent damage. Thirdly, the airborne particulates in Missoula are higher in winter due to the weather inversion. Particulates act as oxidants; they land on skin cells and damage them. This causes wrinkling, increased pigment (brown spots) and increased rosacea. Quality daily skin care is our best defense. The three steps to remember are: 1. Cleanse 2. Treat 3. Protect 1) Cleanse: try the Magic Mitt, a product by Jane Iredale. Without soap, the microfiber technology removes dirt, particulates and makeup without stripping off the skin's mantle. 2) Treat: A good serum is worth it. There are 3 serum substances scientifically proven to reduce signs of aging in the skin: hyaluronic acid (HA), "epithelial growth factors" (EGF's) and retinoids. During the day, try PCA's Total Strength serum under your moisturizer. With both HA and botanically derived EGF's, PCA's Total Strength serum is an excellent choice for a daily skin treatment routine. Retinoids come in different strengths, are available by prescription, and are only used at night. There is a lot of research supporting the effectiveness of retinoids for the health of the skin. However, some types of skin may become dry, red and irritated- even with low doses of retinoids or retinols. 3) Protect: Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the safest known sunblocks. Zinc is also a potent antioxidant. Applying zinc oxide to the skin counters the inflammatory effects of both the sun and particulates in the air. Try Jane Iredale's tinted moisturizer topped with a thin layer of Jane's mineral powder as an SPF 35.