Alongside the joys of the festive season – and the excuse to eat gingerbread cookies at any occasion – winter brings with it a multitude of beauty problems. As well as contending with frizzy hair and brittle nails, our skin suddenly feels bone-dry and starts to flake in annoying places.
“Most people’s skin gets drier and more sensitive in the winter months,” says Dr. Catharine Denning, dermatologist ambassador at Japanese skincare brand Curél. “When the temperature outside starts to drop, so does the humidity and the air becomes dryer. To make things worse, we crank up the radiators to stay warm inside, drying out those environments, too.” It’s a recipe for a less-than-glowing complexion caused because the uppermost layer of skin cells – the stratum corneum – is affected by the cold.
“The stratum corneum acts like your skin’s shield protecting what’s inside, while keeping out environmental elements,” explains Dr. Denning. “With the changes that come with winter weather, our stratum corneum starts to dry out, opening up the skin’s natural barrier. When the barrier function is compromised, more moisture leaks out from its surface, further drying out the skin. Plus, people often find their skin is itchy when it becomes dry and end up scratching it, further compromising the barrier function,” she adds. It’s a vicious cycle, but one that you can put a stop to – provided you know what to do.
Don’t overheat in the shower.
A long, hot shower may be tempting on a cold night, but that’s the last thing your skin wants. “Cool down and shorten your showers to avoid more moisture evaporating from the skin. It helps to moisturize immediately after with a thicker moisturizer, such as the Curél ‘Intensive Moisture Facial Cream’.”
Curél ‘Intensive Moisture Facial Cream’
While exfoliating skin that’s already dry might seem counter-intuitive, you need to gently dislodge those dead skin cells to leave a smooth surface. “Look for ingredients such as lactic acid in cleansers and moisturizers. This exfoliates the loose dry skin cells as well as hydrating at the same time.”
Boost your barrier function.
“It is important to replace some of the hydrolipid barrier that is diminished when the weather cools down. I love the Curél sensitive, dry skincare range. The first moisturizing step with ‘facial lotion’ helps optimize the skin’s surface for lipid penetration by priming the skin to the correct pH and creates a lipid gradient, helping the second moisturizer to penetrate deeper into the epidermis. This is suitable for both oily and dry skin types feeling the effects of cold weather as the range is low on oil content and has a lighter second moisturizer for those who don’t like a heavy cream.”
Say no to alcohol.
While drinking plenty of water is advisable at any time of year, of course, what Dr. Denning is talking about are the ingredients in your face cream. “Choose moisturizers that have cetyl (rather than ethyl or isopropyl) alcohols or lanolin as they’re kinder – lipid-based alcohols are more hydrating.”
Consider a humidifier.
Does your skin feel particularly dry first thing in the morning? There may be a reason for that. “If you’re waking up feeling dry, then it might be worth investing in an air humidifier to help increase the moisture levels in your bedroom air and stop your skin drying out overnight.”
Black + Decker Humidifier