Your complete winter skin survival guide
Winter brings its own skin challenges with dry, itchy skin and chapped lips. There is an endless supply of blogs and adverts to share which cream or balm you should be applying to nourish and hydrate your skin, but will they actually make a difference?
Today we look at the myths and facts of winter skin and show you how you can achieve a peachy bloom throughout the colder months.
Why does skin become inflamed and red?
Skin is our largest organ and the one that most often flags up problems. It’s a barrier separating the inside of our body with the outside. However, under certain conditions that barrier can become red and irritated.
One of the mechanisms developed by the outer layer of the skin is the ability to produce a protective layer called the Natural Moisturising Factor (NMF). The NMF regulates the hydration of the surface of the skin which is important for:
- Supporting the barrier function of the stratum corneum to protect the underlying cells from damage through dehydration, infection.
- Helping to maintain skin elasticity.
- Supporting natural desquamation (skin shedding).
The NMF is a mixture of humectants; substances which draw water from the atmosphere.
Why do you lose moisture from the skin in winter?
In winter, we lose moisture due to several external factors including central heating and cold harsh weather. These are just one of the many reasons why we become more prone to dry, itchy skin.
Why is central heating so bad for your skin?
Keeping warm with central heating comes at a cost to our skin and at its worst, it can become blotchy and itchy. Try to keep your thermostat as low as possible to prevent damage and at night sleep with the heating turned off if possible.
Can a humidifier help with dry skin problems?
Spending time in centrally heated and air-conditioned rooms removes moisture from the environment which dries out the skin. Using a humidifier during winter can add much needed moisture into the air. These can be as simple as adding a ceramic humidifier to your radiator. The warmth from the radiator causes the water to evaporate slowly, increasing atmospheric humidity which is especially helpful for those suffering with dry itchy eyes.
Hands can become rough and cracked throughout the winter months and if you’ve ever suffered from dry hands, you’ll appreciate how uncomfortable (and even painful) they can be.
Use a gentle cleanser to wash your hands. You can substitute soap and water for a hydrating cleansing lotion which can be applied and wiped off without water. Try to avoid alcohol-based sanitisers where possible.
Protect your hands with rubber gloves when cleaning and let them do double the work by applying a nutrient rich moisturiser first. If you’re sensitive to rubber, then pop a pair of cotton gloves on underneath.
Don’t forget to exfoliate your hands. Apply a gentle product such as oatmeal or coarse grain salt combined with olive oil, massage and then rinse to remove any excess. Pat dry and smooth on a moisturiser before you drift off to sleep at night. Apply cotton gloves for silky-smooth skin in the morning.
Legs can dry out too and become scaly, which isn’t so bad when you’re wearing trousers but definitely not a good look during the party season. Use a body scrub with a natural oil to leave your skin flake free and smooth.
How to avoid dry cracked lips
Dried cracked lips are not very appealing and can be incredibly sore. Some lip balms have mineral oil or petroleum jelly which include carcinogenic substances. Others contain a list of perfumes, artificial flavours and colourings that can further dry out lips.
To remove dead skin; buff dry lips gently with a soft toothbrush or rub with a homemade mixture of olive oil and fine grain Himalayan salt. Apply a natural balm to soothe and moisturise.
Coconut oil combats inflammation and is an emollient to soften the skin, while aloe vera contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Both of these ingredients have anti-bacterial properties and anti-inflammatory benefits.
How to combat dry, itchy eyes
Lack of moisture in the air can cause eyes to feel dry and irritated; this is particularly the case for those who suffer from ‘dry eye’ condition and even worse for those who wear contact lenses and allergy sufferers.
- Use artificial tears or eye drops to keep the eyes moistened.
- Try to avoid rubbing the eyes, as this can lead to inflammation and may cause corneal abrasions.
- Use a humidifier.
- Use warm compresses soaked in camomile tea
- Blinking can help to redistribute moisture and create a tear film over the front of your eyes.
- Wear protective eyewear when out in the cold.
- Add Omega 3’s to your diet in the form of oily fish, avocados and supplements.
How to take care of skin on the outside
Your skin’s needs are different in winter so it’s time to step up your skincare regime. What works in the summer may leave it feeling parched throughout winter.
What’s the best cleanser for winter skin?
Use a gentle cleanser. It doesn’t have to be a cream based one, consider using a light oil-based cleanser instead
Mild glycolic based cleansers gently remove the build-up of dead skin cells to freshen and brighten the skin. Look for ones with anti-inflammatory properties.
Swap your physical exfoliant for a mild peel 1 to 2 times per week. Physical exfoliants can be too harsh for already sensitised winter skin and may cause further dryness.
Opt for a peel that contains alpha hydroxy acids (AHA’s), beta hydroxy acids (BHA’s) or enzymes. These ingredients help to gently dissolve dead skin cells. Build up the length of time that you use it for; start off with just a minute and work up to the recommended time.
If you use a toner choose a hydrating one to soothe inflammation and minimise the appearance of open pores.
Should you add a serum to your skincare routine in winter?
If you don’t already use a serum, now’s the time to give your skin a super boost. Serums are lighter than moisturisers and absorb deep into the epidermis. Serums can have a number of different properties; we recommend that you add one with hyaluronic acid and potent antioxidants for additional moisture and repair.
Should you use an extra rich moisturiser?
If you are using a hydrating serum you may find that you don’t need an overly rich moisturiser. Choose one that has a good SPF in as this is still necessary even when its dull and grey outside.
How to solve dry patches?
If you still have dry patches on the skin, gently apply a rich nourishing cream. Ingredients to look out for are Argan oil, shea butter and vitamin E.
How can you moisturise your skin from the inside out?
Dehydration is a major culprit when it comes to dull skin and chapped lips. Make it a habit to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. When the body is dehydrated, it will pull water from certain areas to ensure that cells are properly hydrated and the first area of choice is always the skin. Most of us find it easier to drink water in the summer months but look for more comforting drinks in winter. Try herbal teas and drink at least one glass of H3O Hydration throughout the day. H3O Hydration helps to create a healthy water balance in the cells to release energy to keep you powered throughout the day. It contains hyaluronic acid which is nature’s own hydrator, plumping out spaces in between cells. It is also capable of holding up to 1000 times its own weight in water.
Moisturise with Omega 3
Omega 3 is a natural moisturiser for our body. These fatty acids work their magic from top to toe, acting as anti-inflammatories to boost natural sun protection, helping skin to be more flexible and supporting the skin’s lipid (fat) content.
Omega rich foods include, oily fish, avocado, chia seeds and flax seeds. You can also boost your levels of Omega 3 from fish oil capsules and new vegan supplements formulated from the algae that fish feeds on. Aliol by Rejuvenated is a vegan omega 3 of this kind, you can find more information here.
Support the Natural Moisture Factor (NMF)
The superficial layer of our skin helps to protect the skin barrier by creating a natural Moisture Factor. The NMF as we mentioned before works to keep the skin hydrated and promotes the break-down of dead skin cells with enzymes to reveal fresh glowing skin below.
It’s only recently that the NMF was recognised as a collection of water-soluble compounds that are unique to the outer most layer of skin. Previously it was thought that this outer layer, called the stratum corneum was biologically dead. It is however, an efficient dynamic system, where enzymes are active but require water to perform their functions.
The NMF is high in amino acids and inorganic minerals such as chlorides phosphates, sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. The enzymes and amino acids blend together to attract moisture from the atmosphere, helping to give our skin a natural glow and keep it more youthful. Drinking Collagen Shots helps to support the amino acids necessary for the process while H3O Hydration supplies the required minerals to promote a healthy Natural Moisture Factor.
Get your beauty sleep
In winter our body metabolism slows down. The body produces more melatonin which makes us sleepy. If possible, go to bed early and get at least 8 hours sleep. Add H3O Night Repair to your evening routine to help to hydrate and nourish while you sleep.
We’d love to hear your top tips for healthy glowing skin during winter.