With just weeks to go until Christmas and the worst of the winter weather yet to come no doubt you’re stocking up on thermal tights, warm scarves and snuggly roll neck jumpers to brave the chill – but what do you need to do in order to up your skincare game and make sure you’re taking the right steps to secure a fresh faced glow heading into the new year?
Just as our wardrobe has to transition to meet the challenge of shifting temperatures and weather conditions, so too should our skincare regime be tailored to the seasons – the condition of our skin shifts in response to external stimulus like central heating and harsh winds as much as it does to hormonal fluctuations and other internal changes. So it only makes sense to ensure that your keep your body’s biggest organ in tip top condition and adapt the care you take of it for the colder months.
Opt For Moisture, Not Thickness
When it comes to your selection of winter jumpers, thicker generally means better – but don’t make the mistake of trying to apply that to the moisturiser you put on your face. We’re often under the impression that a thicker cream is the only way to increase hydration levels, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, there is a whole new raft of super lightweight face creams and super serums from brands like The Ordinary packed with epic hydrators in a light texture such as hyaluronic acids. A thick cream can be unsuitable for younger skins and cause breakouts. Finding the right combination of products for your skin is always going to be a little bit trial and error, but when you get it right your skin will glow and look plumped without a heavy, greasy cream to cramp your style.
Consider A Humidifier
Sometimes the answer to parched winter skin is beyond simply finding a new wonder cream. If you have severely dry, uncomfortable skin then you could consider buying a humidifier. In atmospheres filled with central heating, the air tends to be very dry. Combine this with strong winds, lashing rains and frost outside, and you have a recipe for papery, dried out, stressed skin. A humidifier can be plugged into your room overnight and adds moisture to the air, allowing your to adjust the water level in your environment. You want to aim for about 50 per cent humidity for optimal skin results. Don’t want to splash out on a gadget so close to Christmas? Try a bowl of ordinary filtered water, perhaps with a few drops of your favourite essential oil added, placed on top of the radiator nearest your bed.
Add In A Protective Barrier
The drier, harsher environment in the winter months can strip away our skin’s natural protective barrier, leading to inflammation, soreness, breakouts and deteriorating skin texture. Redress the balance by adding products into your regime which are designed to reinforce that barrier. Oils are a very good choice for this. Many people think of them as a moisturiser in their own right, but facial oils don’t actually do that. Oils are generally too thick to penetrate the dermis, but what they can do is add a protective layer that works against wind and bad weather. Simply add a drop of multipurpose facial oil from a brand like Beauty Pie in with your regular day cream for best results. Alternatively, you can use ceramide capsules for a similar barrier effect.
Take A Look At Your Diet
They say that you are what you eat, and that certainly rings true when it comes to changing your skin. During the festive season, we tend to eat more sugary and processed foods and drink more alcohol and this can be bad news for the condition of your dermis. Sugar causes glycation, a process where the protein bonds in the skin break down, causing fine lines, dullness and loss of elasticity. Alcohol is intensely dehydrating and can cause plenty of skin issues including inflammation. It’s not that you shouldn’t eat or drink treats at Christmas – just try and balance it out by adding other things into your diet. Aiming to eat a rainbow of different fruits and vegetables each day can be really beneficial, as can making sure that you get a dose of Omega 3 everyday in the form of salmon, avocado or even festive fave walnuts. Keep your hydration levels topped up through the day by carrying a reusable water bottle around with you, or by making plenty of green tea or hot water with fresh lemon if you prefer something warm. Think about adding some supplements into your diet – a powdered supergreens mix added into a morning smoothie can really help you get your five a day, while a probiotic supplement can help calm down inflammatory responses in your body and skin – as can a very Instagrammable turmeric latte!
Don’t Forget The SPF
Just because the sun seems like a distant memory is no reason to skip out on the sun protection. UVA rays which cause ageing and UVB rays which cause burning can still penetrate through the clouds. And if you’re lucky enough to be heading off somewhere snowy then rays can reflect even more off the snow and cause a lot of damage. Wearing a high quality full spectrum SPF is essential at all points of the year to prevent sun damage.
Add In An Exfoliant
It can seem counter-intuitive if you’re suffering from dry, tight, itchy skin, but exfoliating regularly can actually do you the world of good. It helps to remove the build-up of dry skin cells killing your glow, and it also helps you to regenerate new cells, while also helping the absorption of other products, such as serums and moisturisers.So it should be an essential part of your winter skincare routine. Finding the right exfoliant is key. Some people still prefer traditional facial scrubs, but increasingly, acid-based toners like the cult Pixi Glow Tonic are attracting more followers. These toners, usually made of glycolic, lactic or mandelic acids gently and safely exfoliate and take care of skin and are mild enough to be used twice a week. It is important to wear sunscreen during the day when using an acid exfoliant at night, as the skin can become slightly more sensitive to UV rays.
Protect Yourself From The Elements
Winter weather can be extremely harsh on your skin, so keep yourself protected from the elements. It isn’t just your face, the skin on your body can also become dry and irritated easily. Using a body polish and an intensively nourishing cream or a range of dry skin products can really help, as well as adding a non-greasy hand cream like Rituals Soothing Hand Balm and a lip balm like the range from E.OS to your bag and regularly reapplying throughout the day. Get a stylish scarf, gloves and a hat and layer up when the cold is especially biting. Opt for natural fabrics where possible as these cause less irritation to skin. A lot of cold weather clothing can be very irritating when worn close to your skin, so using breathable base layers made from natural fabrics is key to keeping skin comfortable and protected.
If you are managing a skin condition like psoriasis, eczema or dermatitis, avoiding allergens and irritants that can cause a flare-up is often harder in winter, so be vigilant. Aim to avoid itchy wool sweaters and switch to a non-bio washing detergent along with a milder range of cleansers and moisturisers designed specifically for irritable sensitive skin. Natural, homemade face masks can really help if you have problem skin that reacts badly to chemical ingredients – try things such as honey, avocado, yoghurt, olive oil and aloe vera gel. These everyday kitchen finds often do a great job of calming and soothing, and leave a lasting hit of hydration.
Say Bye To Hot Baths And Showers
In the cold winter months, many of us are more likely to take long, hot baths or steamy showers but doing this and then – even worse – skipping a body moisturiser afterwards can leave your skin with lots of little cracks on it’s surface, due to the speed at which hot water evaporate. These little cracks are what creates that itchy winter skin that we sometimes get. Try to limit baths and keep showers short and of a moderate temperature. If you really can’t resist, then keep the bathroom door shut and put an intense body moisturiser on immediately after you get out to keep the barrier of your skin from losing lots of moisture. You can also try applying coconut oil to your skin before getting into the bath as this stops the natural oils of the skin getting stripped away. Don’t think about going outside with wet hands either, as this will make them dry and chapped much easier. Dry thoroughly and apply a hand cream and gloves before stepping outdoors. With a little bit of care, you can have sparkling winter skin to be proud of.