Autumn and winter are beautiful seasons, but they can wreak havoc on our skin. The cold temperatures and low humidity levels result in dry air that draws moisture away from the skin. The harsh winter winds and dry indoor heat only exacerbate the problem, leading to cracked and even bleeding skin. On top of that, skin conditions like eczema, acne or psoriasis may flare up during these cold, dry months. It's important to take extra care of our skin during this time to keep it healthy and comfortable until spring arrives.
1. Avoid Long, Hot Showers
While a hot bath or shower may feel great in the winter, it can strip your skin of its important oils. Instead, opt for warm or lukewarm water when possible. This includes when you wash your face or hands. By avoiding long, hot showers, you can help prevent further drying of the skin and maintain its natural moisture.
2. Choose the Right Winter Moisturiser
The moisturiser you use during the rest of the year may not be enough to combat the dryness of the winter months. Look for a moisturiser that is suitable for cold and dry conditions. Thicker doesn't necessarily mean better when it comes to moisturisers, especially if you're prone to breakouts. Instead, opt for a moisturiser that contains lipids, such as ceramides, and hyaluronic acid to nourish and protect your skin. If your skin is severely dry, consider adding an emollient moisturiser that seals in moisture, followed by another moisturiser on top.
Or introduce a hydrating serum before your moisturiser, which contains natural oils to hydrate and soothe, squalene to moisturise, or tea tree to reduce redness especially if you suffer from acne.
3. Change Your Cleanser and Toner Routine
Avoid using a facial cleanser that contains harsh chemicals that dry your skin, instead use a soothing milky lotion cleanser.
Try to use a toner less often, and exfoliate if you feel you need to but be gentle, and use a chemical exfoliant that doesn’t disrupt your skin’s barrier, rather than a physical exfoliator.
Also, minimise the use of products containing anti-ageing ingredients such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid, or retinol.
4. Don't Forget the Sunscreen
Many people associate sunscreen with the hot summer months, but it's equally important during winter, as the sun can still cause serious damage to your skin. Apply sunscreen to your face and hands, especially if they're exposed, about 30 minutes before going outside. Remember to reapply frequently if you spend an extended period outdoors.
5. Say No to Tanning
Despite the increased desire for a sun-kissed glow in the winter, tanning beds and artificial sunlamps are always damaging to the skin. The ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation they emit can cause cell damage and increase the risk of skin cancer. Instead, embrace your natural skin tone and use self-tanners if you want to maintain a healthy glow. Be sure to moisturise regularly, as self-tanners can also dry out the skin.
6. Take Care of Your Skin
Regularly examining your skin is crucial, regardless of the season. Pay attention to any new moles, growths, or changes in existing growths. Lesions that change, itch, bleed, or don't heal should be evaluated by a dermatologist. Self-exams can help you identify potential skin cancers early, allowing for prompt treatment. If you have persistent dry skin, scaling, itching, rashes, or growths that concern you, it's important to see a dermatologist to address your specific concerns.
7. Supplement With Vitamin D
During the summer, our bodies naturally produce vitamin D through sun exposure. However, in the winter, our exposure to sunlight decreases. If your diet contains a good level of dairy products or oily fish you should naturally have adequate levels of vitamin D.
However, taking vitamin D supplements can also ensure that you receive the recommended amounts of this essential vitamin all year round. Consult with your healthcare provider to determine the appropriate dosage for your specific needs if you feel you need to supplement.
8. Stay Hydrated
As it gets cooler, we can forget to hydrate. Our skin dries out as a result and our digestive system suffers. Staying hydrated is important, so increasing herbal tea intake, or even drinking large mugs of warm water can help with this. Avoid drinking ice-cold water where possible.
Taking these steps to protect your skin during the cold weather will help maintain its health and vitality. Remember that healthy skin not only contributes to your physical appearance but also performs vital functions in protecting your body from external elements. By following these tips, you can keep your skin nourished, hydrated, and protected throughout the winter months.
- Use products without fragrance or lanolin if you have sensitive skin.
- Consider overnight deep moisturising treatments for particularly dry areas such as hands, feet, elbows, knees and lips.
- Short lukewarm showers or baths with non-irritating, moisturising cleansers are recommended for individuals experiencing "winter itch."
- Tempting as it is to put the heating on full blast, try to maintain a regular, ambient room temperature to minimise the contrast between inside and outside temperatures.
- Room humidifiers can help combat the dry air indoors, but it's important to clean them regularly to prevent mould and fungi growth.
- Covering your face and using a petroleum-based lip balm can protect against harsh winds.
- Seek medical attention immediately if you develop colour changes, pain, or ulceration in your hands or feet due to extreme cold exposure.
Remember to consult with a GP for personalised advice and treatment options if you have specific skin concerns or conditions. Taking proactive steps to care for your skin during the winter months will help you maintain healthy, radiant skin all year round.