Keep your skin healthy in winter

Winter is not just dreary for the spirit, it’s also hard on the skin. Here we outline simple steps to winter-proof your skin and keep it glowing during the cold.

If you live in a country that experiences cold and dry winters, you know how low humidity weather affects your skin. You’ve seen your normally beautiful, smooth skin become parched and fine lines appear as if from nowhere after being exposed to the cold air of a winter day.

Even though we mostly associate cold weather with its temperature, the most important thing you need to remember (with respect to skincare) is its low humidity levels. Our book, Slow Ageing Guide to Skin Rejuvenation, explains that humidity in wintertime can drop below 30% in heated, indoor air. This is not much different from the level found in the Sahara Desert.

Some of the symptoms of winter-affected skin include:

  • Dryness
  • Dullness
  • Itchiness
  • Redness and inflammation
  • Greater visibility of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Rough appearance 

One of the most alarming things about how winter dryness affects the skin is the fact that while a lot of it is temporary, if you do not adequately treat your skin, the weather can lead to lasting and cumulative consequences.

What you can do to winter-proof your skin

There’s no reason for your complexion to be lacklustre any time of the year. There are numerous ways you can winter-proof your skin, including:

  • Investing in a humidifier: Running a humidifier in your home will increase the humidity level of your indoor air and prevent your skin becoming dry. Try to find a unit that will allow you to set specific humidity levels. You should aim for 45-60% humidity.
  • Actively hydrating your skin: It’s virtually impossible to exaggerate the importance of keeping your skin consistently hydrated during winter. Look for moisturizers with high-quality humectant ingredients, as these improve the skin’s ability to hold water and attract moisture from the air into the skin, and occlusive ingredients, which create a barrier on the skin to help minimize moisture loss to the air. Using humectants such as glycerine, urea, panthenol and gelatine will reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by plumping up the skin’s outer layer. Occlusive and semi-occlusive agents include soybean oil, and silicones such as dimethicone, lanolin, petrolatum, mineral oil, lanolin and grape seed oil.
  • Spending more time exfoliating: While exfoliation is important all year long, it is especially so in the winter. Allowing excess dead skin cells to sit on the surface makes it harder for your skin to absorb and retain moisture. It will also contribute to a dull complexion. Look for gentle exfoliating products.
  • Being mindful of the wind: Be aware that the wind blowing on your face can dry out and irritate your skin.
  • Being mindful of the sun: Many people entirely forget about the effect of the sun during winter. This is unwise, as the skin still needs protection from damaging UV rays. Make sure to wear sunscreen, particularly if you live in a climate with a lot of snow – when the sunlight reflects off the white snow, it can be even more damaging.
  • Using topical products with antioxidants: Make sure you use products containing antioxidants. While this is important throughout the year, it’s especially so in winter when the skin is under more strain from environmental factors. Antioxidants include vitamin B3 (also referred to as niacin, niacinamide, nicotinic acid and nicotinamide), vitamin C and vitamin E.
  • Enjoying a nutritious diet: As well as applying topical products containing useful antioxidants, you should also seek to boost antioxidants in your diet. Alternatively, you can take antioxidants in supplement (capsule) form.

Winter can be a challenging time of year for those of us who want a gorgeous complexion, but you now have the knowledge to winter-proof your skin and maintain your lovely glow.

References

Slow Ageing Guide to Skin Rejuvenation by Kate Marie, Professor Merlin Christopher Thomas, and Dr. John Flynn, 2017

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