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Last Updated on January 2, 2024
Every time the seasons change the needs of our skin change too. And while we should wear sunscreen all year round, other things happen to our skin in the winter. With the extra heating put on and dry air inside, in combination with the cold air outside, you might start to wonder if you have eczema or not. This hand guide can help you: Dry Skin Vs. Eczema: How To Tell The Difference.
In the meantime, here are some tips to help you take care of your skin through the colder months.
Million people don’t enjoy wearing gloves, but they are the first line of defence to stop the skin on your hands from coming under attack from the cold. Hands suffer the brunt of the cold because when we go out with cold hands, they get dry and chapped, and the knuckles can split.
To give the skin on your hands an extra boost, use a thick night cream and wear cotton gloves for a few hours in the evening or overnight.
The fabrics we wear are just as important in the winter as they are in the summer. Often in the summer, we choose moisture-wicking fabrics to help us keep sweat away from the skin.
The drying nature of the winter means that our skin is just as likely to be irritated by fabrics too. Opting for loose-fitting, comfortable, and natural materials means your skin is less likely to be irritated by seams or rough fabrics.
Switching to washing powders and detergents formulated for sensitive skin is a great idea, as they are free from fragrances and chemicals.
We often consider summer to be when we get most hydrated and need to drink plenty of water, but it is just as true for the winter. One of the most important things for healthy skin is ensuring you drink the right amount of water.
Since the winter is so cold, many people think they might not need the amount of water they do in the summer; however, lowering your water intake will make your skin more susceptible to drying out.
To complement your water intake, you can also eat plenty of hydrating vegetables like cucumbers and foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Scrub a little less
Keeping skin healthy means removing the layer of dead skin cells from the surface; this will help your skin breathe and keep it looking bright and healthy. Some exfoliants that we use in the summer might be too strong for delicate winter skin.
If you usually use a physical scrub, then opt for a softer chemical scrub. If your skin feels irritated or is broken, it is better to skip the exfoliation for a short while until the skin repairs itself.
Many people can’t wait to relax in a hot bath after a day of being cold, but it could be that hot bath that is causing your skin to feel even drier. Lukewarm bathing is the best option for us to help our skin retain its protective oils. And if you do opt for hot bathing, treat your skin with extra kindness afterwards.
Be sure to slather on a skin cream that is designed to help with hydration, and rather than rub your skin dry with a towel, pat away the water droplets instead.
The indoor air becomes particularly dry in the winter because we have our heating on, which saps a lot of the moisture from the air. Using a humidifier will help to add that moisture back into the air and can help to relieve and prevent skin dryness.
Even smaller portable humidifiers with a setting of about 60% humidity can add enough moisture into the air to help replenish the top layer of your skin.
It’s also great to help to fend off a dry throat.
In the summer, you’re not likely to feel it too much, but every time you wash your hands and face in the winter, you are likely to feel drier. The natural oils we have on our skin help to keep our skin hydrated.
Having bottles of moisturizer next to where you wash your hands or wash the dishes will give you a visual reminder to keep your hands and face moisturized.
A couple of ingredients are highly recommended to have in your winter skincare:
- Hyaluronic acid
- Vitamin E
- Jojoba oil
Try to opt for creams that have some of these ingredients to give your skin what it needs.
Even in the winter, the sun can do a lot of damage to your skin. There are now sunscreens offering other benefits besides just protecting your skin from UVA and UVB rays. These UV rays are a known skin stressor, which can reduce your skin’s natural moisture barrier.
The sunscreen that you use should be at least SPF 30.
The nighttime is a great time to add extra treatments to your routine, during the night when our skin does the most work to rebuild barriers and replenish natural oils. Emollients are thicker creams and are ideal for use at night time. Since they take longer to be absorbed into the skin, letting them work overnight is the best option.
To infuse your hands and feet with moisture, they need to stay supple and healthy; apply a thick layer of the emollient and then some cotton gloves and socks. This will reduce the transfer of the emollient to your bed sheets and help it be absorbed into the skin better.
If your skin is already suffering, it won’t positively react to things like serums, toners and even rich creams. While some people thrive on a 25-step skincare routine, it can be better to keep it simple for many.
You might not realize that your skincare routine is causing your skin’s sensitivity, so keep applying the creams to reduce it. And it can also be the case that a routine that has worked for many years no longer works due to a change in the skin, age, hormones and even a change in the ingredients in the product.
If you are worried that your skin barrier isn’t as healthy as it could be, you can use a simple routine to help it repair and rest. A moisturizer and sunscreen in the morning and a gentle cream cleanser and moisturizer at night can be ideal.
Keep in mind that it takes a few weeks to see a difference in your skin, so don’t be tempted to add in new things until your skin feels supple, soft and looks healthy.
If rich emollients aren’t working, you can step it up a gear and use occlusives. Occlusives are thick creams, and one of their properties is that they offer a physical barrier and keep moisture in the skin.
To incorporate occlusive creams into your routine, apply them after your moisturizer twice a day. You might’ve seen the slugging trend- adding Vaseline all over your face after your skincare routine.
The principle is similar. Occlusives like cocoa butter, rosehip oil, jojoba oil, shea butter, and Aquaphor or Vaseline offer a thick layer that locks in your other moisturizers.
If you have been suffering from dry and irritated skin, and nothing seems to help, it is a good idea to chat with your GP. They will be able to prescribe topical creams that can help treat inflammation, dryness and irritation.
Natural ingredients can often be the saving grace, and you can make these at home in your kitchen! Read more: 20 DIY makeup and skincare recipes.