Winter can be harsh on your skin. Dr Hadi Abusharia gives his cold weather skin-survival tips.
As the mercury in the thermometer drops and the dark evenings draw in, the winter gloom can take over. For so many of us, this gloom is compounded by dry and irritable skin caused by the dropping humidity levels. During the winter months our faces and hands, in particular, suffer due to regular exposure to these unfavourable conditions – causing blemishes, irritation and even pain in more extreme cases.
We shouldn’t have to suffer in silence during the colder months of the year, and there are a number of steps we can take to ensure our skin isn’t affected. If you want healthy, happy and glowing skin this winter, these seven steps could help you look and feel your best over the coming months.
MOISTURISE MOISTURISE MOISTURISE
Fail to prepare, and you prepare to fail – this old adage has never been truer than when talking about your skin. Adapt your skin care regime to combat the impact of cold weather by introducing your moisturiser to a night and day care routine.
Ingredients like Vitamin C can help protect and boost collagen production. Niacinamide or B3 is another one to look out for as it protects and repairs the skin barrier. Ceramindes are important too. They’re waxy, fatty molecules that we make and they help maintain the health of the skin barrier. In winter we make less, which can lead to drier looking, flakey skin.
Ideally check that any product you choose is non-comodogenic – that is it won’t block pores and cause the skin to break out.
From exfoliating body washes to exfoliating masks, removing dead skin cells is more important than ever in the winter months, but many people miss this important step in their beauty regime during colder periods.
If dead skin cells are too plentiful on your hands, face and body, it may be difficult for moisture to get through to the living cells. A careful round of exfoliating can help expose the alive cells, which are then primed for a little moisturising.
DOUBLE YOUR MITTS
Hands are often the area worst affected by dry skin when the cold weather hits. This is because the skin of your hands is thinner than elsewhere on the majority of the body. And with us continuously using our hands for day-to-day tasks, the dry skin can be prone to cracking and bleeding – painful and not particularly attractive.
Wearing gloves can help protect your hands against the effects of the cold weather, and doubling up on gloves can offer double the benefits. If your hands are dry and sensitive, woollen gloves can often only serve to irritate the skin further – but they’re so warm and snuggly. So to combat this, we recommend wearing a pair of thin cotton gloves underneath your thick woollies, providing the warmth without the irritation.
But beware of wet or damp gloves, these will not help the situation at all.
DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
Staying hydrated is always important to internal and external health, and it is vital that you drink plenty of water through the winter months. As the temperatures plummet, it’s tempting to opt for a warming latte rather than a pint of water – but this may come at the expense of your skin.
Although the amount of water you should drink every day seems to differ depending on which expert you’re listening to, the general consensus is that men should aim to drink three litres of fluids every day, whilst women should drink two. Water should make up a significant percentage of this fluid intake, keeping your body hydrated and your skin looking fresh.
And give yourself a little boost this winter with a diet rich with foods high in water content. Watermelons, apples, oranges, kiwis, tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots all possess a high water content, and can be easily fit into your daily meals.
A healthy diet has a positive influence all through the year, but eating a balanced diet packed full of fruits, vegetable and vitamins is extra important in winter. Stock up on vitamin C-enriched citrus fruits and juices in particular, as this vitamin helps your body produce collagen, a vital protein for repairing and connecting skin.
INVEST IN A HUMIDIFIER (OR TWO)
The central heating may be a mainstay during the winter months, but these systems are just pumping dry air into the home and office, which can contribute to your skin drying out. Humidifiers, on the other hand, can help increase the amount of moisture in the air, something your skin will thank you for. Placing one humidifier at home and one at the office should ensure that your skin is never deprived of much-needed moisture, and will retain its beautiful autumnal glow.
Or if you really want to go all out, invest in a series of small humidifiers and position them around your home – this will help disperse the moisture-rich air through the rooms more evenly.
AVOID HOT BATHS
This may not be the news you want to hear, after all what is better than getting home after a long, cold day and sinking into a warm bubble bath? Sadly, superhot baths actually break down the lipid barriers of the skin, leading to a loss of moisture.
Although nowhere near as satisfying or relaxing; a short, slightly warm bath is much better for the skin. And a lukewarm bath with a little baking soda can actually help to relieve dry and irritable skin. Although if you can face jumping in a lukewarm bath after battling the cold and the dark on your way home from work, you’re stronger than I.
WEAR SUNSCREEN AND LIP BALM
Sunscreen may seem like an odd choice at this time of the year, with little heat to speak of, but the sun’s UV rays can be just as strong in the winter so can still be damaging to your skin. Lathering on a layer of SPF 15 sunscreen before going out for any extended period should help protect your skin from the sun’s rays.
And whilst you’re layering on the sunscreen, make sure to pop on a little lip balm. The skin of your lips is the most sensitive of the entire body, so is most prone to flaking and damage when the air dries out. Unflavoured lip balms with carnauba or beeswax offer the best protection in the winter months – keeping your lips moist and kissable.