How To Prevent And Treat Dry Skin During The Winter Months
Nov 22, 2022
Having drier skin in the winter is almost unavoidable. The natural elements can literally attack our skin! The British Journal of Dermatology performed an experiment to see if it’s scientifically proven that our skin changes from season to season. Looking at a deeper cellular level, results showed that the cold dry air in winter causes our skin cells to shrink and a protein (filaggrin), which is key for helping our skin to maintain its natural moisturising factor (NMF), breaks down. The study looked particularly at the texture of the skin on the hands and cheeks, and after looking at 80 men and women, there was a notice able difference in the NMF levels between winter and summer.
Key Signs Your Skin Is Dry
If you are suffering from dry skin, you are certainly not alone - it’s been proven! There are key signs if your skin starts to dry out, so let us point out some of the symptoms for you.
- A change in colour - you might notice some red patches (in lighter skin tones). Withless moisture in the epidermis of the skin, our skin can appear more ‘lacklustre’ than in the summer months.
- Itching - dry skin can cause irritation to the skin such as a frustrating itch.
- Flaking - as the skin's barrier breaks down and dies, it can flake from the surface of the skin.
- Rough patches and cracking - the texture of the surface of the skin can change and in more severe cases it can start to crack and become sore.
These symptoms are common but they can also vary, so if any of these symptoms become severe, it is worth consulting with a dermatologist.
Why Is Our Skin Drier In The Winter?
It may seem obvious that our skin is drier in the winter: the lack of sunlight and the whipping of the wind and rain, but there are also other contributing factors that you may not have considered.
Harvard Medical School explains the composition of our skin cells is like roofing tiles which are kept together with a ‘glue’. When factors such as low humidity in the winter, indoor heating, harsh ingredients in products, or underlying health issues, start to disrupt the ‘glue’, water/moisture starts to evaporate which leads to the issues we’ve discussed above. In the winter, we need to switch up our skincare. If you’ve continued to use a lightweight lotion as your daily moisturiser, which you used during the warmer months, this will not be sufficient enough to retain moisture in the skin. There is a drastic change in the humidity in the air as the temperatures drop, and therefore we need to try and alter our skincare routines to compensate for this lack of moisture in the air. Finding the right products for your winter skincare routine is really important.
As the rain lashes down outside, and we are sat in the comfort of our own homes, we tend to turn our heating up. Whilst this might make us feel ‘cosy’ and comfortable, it can actually have a sizeable impact on the quality of our skin. Not only can it reduce the amount of humidity in the air, but the heat can also draw out moisture directly from the surface and to players of the skin.
As well as turning up the heating in our radiators, we also like to whack up the hot water in our showers - unless you love the Wim Hof method! The intense heat can actually damage the surface of the skin and increase the chance of drying out your skin.
So, What Can We Do To Help Our Skin?
It’s very easy to neglect our skin during the winter; we have enough to think about these days! However, the easiest way to look after your skin is to get that moisture locked in. If you’ve managed to stick to a simple skincare routine over the summer, you can keep it going through the winter but with a few tweaks here and there.
- Switch up your daily face moisturiser - although a lightweight lotion will add moisture to the skin, it probably won’t do the job in winter. You will need something with a thicker consistency and possibly richer. We recommend moisturisers that contain vitamin E, which is a natural anti-inflammatory and will also help strengthen the skin’s barrier, and also hyaluronic acid which is a humectant and helps hold water in the skin. We advise you to test a new product out on a small area of your skin first. Moisturisers containing emollients (i.e plant oils, shea butter, cocoa butter)are a great idea as they help to fill in the gaps between our skin cells.
- Be aware of harsh products - any products containing high amounts of alcohol (like an aftershave) can strip the skin of natural oils so try and use products without ascent. An abrasive facial exfoliator can also further damage the top layers of the skin, so try a cleanser which is slightly lighter on your skin.
- Don’t forget your SPF - even with a reduction in sunlight, UV rays can still damage and cause stress to your skin in the winter. Add a bit to your daily moisturiser, or use a moisturiser that contains an SPF.
- Pimp up your nighttime routine - your skin regenerates and repairs whilst you sleep, and it’s the ideal time to add moisture to your skin. Try using a sheet mask or a deep treatment before you go to sleep. It’s worth taking the time - trust us!
- Don’t neglect the rest of your body - make sure you moisturise your whole body, especially just after you jump out of the shower. This will help to lock it in for the restof the day. Body moisturisers containing shea or cocoa butter are particularly good at providing a protective layer for the skin. Keep hand cream and lip balm closeby, perhaps in your work bag/backpack, to help protect the skin and also soothe any rough skin.
- Moisturise from the inside out - keep that water flowing. We should be drinking around 8 cups of water a day, and we need this just as much in the winter, as we doin the summer. Eating foods high in omega-3 also helps to maintain the natural oils in our skin.
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