Winter is synonymous with precipitation – if you’re fancy like us, anyway. It’s raining, or pouring, or both – if it’s not sleeting or snowing, or occasionally hailing! With all the moisture in the air (or falling from it), you might think that ‘tis the season for hydration galore, but if the changing season has taught us nerds anything, it’s that there may be water, water, everywhere – and yet our skin still so dry! And what to do for dry winter skin? Well, let’s see what we can suggest.
Why Is Winter Bad For Our Skin?
Dehydration is the quick answer to this. Despite all the water, your skin will still be suffering from dehydration as a result of the change from a mild climate to abruptly, a frozen hellscape. This isn’t ideal for your skin, as it compromises the barrier of your skin. Cold wind, a lack of humidity and raised interior temperatures form a trio of skin-foes.
How Does Winter Affect My Skin Barrier?
The cold air hits your face more than most other areas of yours skin, as your face tends to be exposed to the elements more often than not. The harsh wind and cold depletes moisture from your skin and lowers your skin’s hydration. Cold air, low humidity and how showers and indoor environments strip your skin of its moisture, and leads to increased TEWL (transepidermal water loss – how much water is evaporated through your skin). This can make your skin flaky and uncomfortable, as well as irritated and red.
What To Do For Dry Winter Skin
The most important thing to bear in mind when caring for winter skin is that you’re going to need to up your skin’s hydration. Drinking water works, and so does eating hydrating food, but applying hydration topically to your skin is also key. What good is filling yourself with water if your skin barrier is a leaky bucket?
Moisturising Winter Skin
Depending on your skin concern, we don’t believe that everyone needs moisturiser all of the time. Where many people apply moisturiser, we consider a good serum to do an excellent job by itself, while also providing the good nutrients needed for healthy skin function. Your skin is, itself, a barrier – it keeps out the nasties of the outside world, including pollution and general gunk. But it also has its own barrier, and this can be weakened by exposure to harsh weather conditions.
Your skin barrier is composed of the outer layer of your skin (the stratum corneum), and the lipid matrix, which is a combination of ceramides, acids, and cholesterols, which keep everything together. Your skin barrier keeps hydration in and bad stuff out. Issues and discomfort arise when the barrier function becomes impaired and doesn’t work as well. Before we get into how to lock in moisture topically, let’s talk about nutrition – sorry, not sorry – namely essential fatty acids.
Research points towards supplementation and ingestion of essential fatty acids like omegas improve the profile of the skin’s lipid layer (what we often refer to as its barrier). So, if you ain’t plant-based, get the fish in or supplement your omegas, and if you are plant-based, flaxseed, brussel sprouts, walnuts and chia seeds should be featuring heavily in your winter meal plans. To be honest, we don’t need an excuse for a gloriously caramelised brussel sprout. Mmm-mmm-mmm.
Skingredients Skin Good Fats contains Ceramide NP, which is a lipid believed to improve skin barrier function. It brings equilibrium back to unbalanced skin, and restores good fats and essential vitamins. It also contains drago-calm, which is an anti-irritant, and plenty of antioxidants. This works to soothe irritated or red skin, which can result from the harsh changes in temperature. We’re all super familiar with cracking hands and patchy cheeks in the winter months.
If you’re keen to add Skingredients Skin Good Fats to your regime, it’s easy. Complete your double cleanse as usual with Skingredients PreProbiotic Cleanse, Sally Cleanse or AHA Cleanse depending on the time of day or your particular skin concern, apply your Skin Veg, your Skin Protein, and then your Skin Good Fats. If it’s morning time, top it off with your SPF – otherwise, straight to bed with you!
Bear in mind that Skin Good Fats might not be the best choice for you, if you’re congestion-prone – however, those of us who are perhaps spottier in Nerd HQ don’t have problems when using it! If you’re finding that despite the dryness, you seem to be breaking out now more than ever, we might be able to shed some light on the reason why …
Exfoliation In Winter
Without exfoliation, dead skin will build up on the surface of your stratum corneum, and all the serum in the world will be wasted if you don’t get that skin off! The winter weather will dry out your skin at an accelerated rate. This means the dead skin created by the dryness can linger – and this can often block pores and lead to breakouts and congestion unless we exfoliate.
To this end, it’s a good idea to use an active cleanser a few times a week. Depending on your skin type or concern, it’s likely you’re using one already. An active cleanser is any which affects chemical exfoliation on the skin. In Skingredients, we have two: Sally Cleanse and AHA Cleanse.
Sally Cleanse is ideal for anyone who is dealing with skin congestion, excess oil or is acne-prone. It contains salicylic acid which helps to dissolve dead skin which might block pores and lead to congestion.
AHA Cleanse contains lactic acid, which is a hydrating alpha hydroxy acid, which could be a great choice for the drying winter months. Lactic acid is also a humectant – this means that it draws moisture to it. This is good news for your skin, as it will draw moisture to the surface of your skin, and can make your skin appear plumper and more hydrated. Both of these options chemically exfoliate your skin and help to clear the skin’s surface of unwelcome build up of dead skin cells.
What Should I Do For My Skin In Winter?
You can take certain small steps to look after your skin during the winter months which won’t drastically change your life, but might leave your skin feeling a little more comfy-cosy and winter-ready.
Avoid Super Hot Showers
We know it’s tempting to scald yourself in the bathroom to try to get as much heat as possible into your bones, but it’s not going to make your skin jump for joy. The intense heat irritates skin just as surely as the intense cold of the outdoors – and worse, switching rapidly from one to the other as we head outside to inside wreaks havoc on your skin. The heat can dry out your skin, and make it more difficult for your cells to lock in hydration. If you suffer from conditions like eczema. If the water is hot enough to turn your skin red, you should probably lower the heat. You’re not trying to steam yourself in there. It’s tempting – but turn it down.
It’s false economy to skimp on your SPF in the winter months. Just because you’re not feeling the warmth of the sun or feeling it burn you, that doesn’t mean that your skin isn’t being affected by UVA and HEV rays. UVA and HEV reach us year round. It might feel strange to be applying SPF in your bathroom in the dark, pre-dawn hours, only to spend the daylight hours in an office – but HEV is produced by your screens, and so a good broad-spectrum SPF is still absolutely key during the winter months. It also provides infrared and pollution protection; particularly key for your commutes in the dark! There’s a reason that Skingredients Skin Shield SPF 50 PA+++ is part of the Core 4 – every day, no exceptions.
Consider A Humidifier
Since the central heating dries out the air in your home (and then, following that, the moisture in your skin), it might be an idea to consider getting a humidifier for your home to keep your skin happy and hydrated, despite the weather outside being so frightful. Skincare is your first step, but if you can affect your environment and make it more skin-friendly, then we’re all about that.
Sleigh bells may be starting to ring, but that doesn’t mean that your teeth need to be chattering in fear of a skin eruption, now that you know what to do for dry winter skin. Keep that ceramide barrier as strong as your resolve to hold off on blasting Mariah Carey ‘til December 1st, and we’ll all be doing well.