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6 Cozy Tips to Keep You Warm During the Winter Months

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While we’d love to think we could stay warm by basking in the jolly glow of the winter holidays, the reality is this: Once we wrap up the holiday season, the weather typically takes a turn for the worse. So, before you see those temperatures dropping to terrifyingly low figures, be prepared.

We did a little bit of investigating and decided to debunk some of the most popular winter myths about keeping warm in cold weather, as well as figuring out what works best against the elements. Don’t worry: With just a few simple changes, you’ll be feeling your toastiest this upcoming season.

Cotton in Winter

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Beware of cotton as your first layer.

You probably love the touch and the feel of cotton — it’s easily the number one staple fabric in anyone’s wardrobe. So you may be shocked to find out that you don’t want to have it super close to your skin when the weather drops. It’s not because it won’t keep you warm, but because when you are warm, it’ll turn the tables and make you cold.

Wait, what? Allow us to explain. 

Let’s say you’re outside cleaning off your car after a blizzard. Even though it’s frigid outside, your exhaustive efforts will cause you to sweat. When you go back inside for a quick hot-chocolate break, you’ll find yourself coming down with the shivers. This is because your shirt absorbed moisture, which is now sticking to you and getting trapped inside your jacket. And while you breathe, it’ll draw heat away from you.

Does this mean you can’t wear a simple T-shirt all winter? Of course not! But it does mean that if you’re headed out in the snow, you may want to start with a wool sweater. And if you do opt for cotton while outdoors, go the route of a toasty second-layer flannel shirt. 

winter boots

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Always waterproof your shoes if you plan on venturing into bad weather.

When dealing with snow and slush, it is imperative to keep your toes dry, not only because dryness ensures warmth, but because your toes (and fingers) are very sensitive to cold climates. Not taking care of them could easily lead to more serious issues like frostbite and hypothermia. So, you might want to manually waterproof winter shoes like Uggs that will give you the toastiness, but not the protection, you really need. Mainly, though, opt for waterproof leather boots or real snow boots. And don’t forget to trade in your cotton socks for wool.

winter layering

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Keep your hat on, but not for the reason you think.

“Make sure to wear a hat: Your head retains half of your body heat!” We’ve been raised with this saying, and psychologically, we still feel so much warmer when we have a knitted cap on. As it turns out, this is a patently false winter myth. However, that doesn’t mean you get to forgo hat hair, because you absolutely should make a hat a priority when it comes to outerwear.

There are a few areas of the body that are more susceptible to frostbite: hands, feet, nose, and ears. Your hands and feet will always be covered, and on the iciest cold days, you can wrap a thick scarf around your face. But if you wanted to forgo a cap because of vanity reasons, then you’re leaving your ears unprotected. It’s really easy to neglect your ears and have them face winter damage.

So while a hat alone won’t keep you from freezing to death, it’s essential if you want to protect your ears from frostbite. Yes, fuzzy earmuffs look cute, but they don’t have the same strength and full coverage as just picking up a decorative beanie. 

layering in the winter

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Layer, layer, layer, layer… and then stop.

Layers are necessary when you’re going from sub-zero weather outside to a roaring fireplace in the den. You want to be able to easily add and subtract those extra guards against the elements. However, there is such a thing as over-layering. This can lead to sweat and moisture, which we’ve already covered as being problematic.

Scientifically speaking, you want to stop at four layers.That is the peak layering number, according to those who have to stay warm in Antarctica. Again, make sure to stick with wool or polyesters as your base, and then keep flannels and sweaters as mid-level layers. Oh, and even though there’s a preference to sometimes ordering a coat a size up to fit in those extras, make sure that those layers actually fit. Everything you wear should hug (but not strangle) your body in order to trap heat and keep cold air out.

Mittens in the Winter

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If you’re dealing with standard knits, choose mittens over gloves.

Of course, if you also have money to invest in waterproof, slightly more dexterous high-tech gloves, go for it. Obviously, insulated gloves are ideal for those crazy winter days, but if you’re thinking about knitting something to keep your grandkids warm, you always want to go with mittens.

Historically speaking, mittens will keep your hands warmer because your fingers generate more heat when they’re bunched together. If you have gloves on, you have that separation of fabric. So as long as the slightly-more-limited hand motions won’t impact your outing, it’s Team Mittens all the way.

Leggings in winter

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Add thermal protection to your leggings.

Or, better yet, wear thermal leggings as an extra layer underneath legitimate pants. 

Confused? Don’t be. Leggings are wonderful as an underlayer, as workout wear, or as lazy bottoms with gigantic sweaters. They’re all-purpose, so it’s wonderful to stock up on some inexpensive pairs when the temperature drops. However, while most leggings may look the same, they’re definitely not created equally. That doesn’t mean you need to throw down hundreds of dollars on sophisticated yoga pants. It does mean that you may want to switch out for either black thermal long underwear or runners’ tights. They look the same, they cost only slightly more than your standard leggings, and they’ll give you that extra bit of insulation.

At the end of the day, it takes only a few quick changes to keep yourself at maximum coziness. Just stay dry, stay cotton-free, and bundle up smartly! 

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