Ever noticed that your skin gets dry, flaky or even chapped in winter? It’s well-documented that your skin loses MORE THAN 25% of its ability to retain moisture during winter. That’s a significant drop! This happens because cold-dry air, with wind chill factor as a bonus, causes moisture to evaporate from the surface layer of the skin more quickly. So when winter comes, a few small changes will help you retain as much moisture as possible from top to toe.
1. Save water – and your skin
We’re not even going to talk about wallowing neck-deep in a hot bath, which is an absolute no-no. So showers it is!
It’s very tempting when it’s freezing cold to spend an extra few minutes under a hot shower, but heat compromises the lipid layer of your skin, so (summer or winter) a very hot shower is never a good idea. If you struggle to turn the heat down during winter, make your shower as short as possible. And don’t forget, your head is covered with skin under all that hair, so long, hot showers will also affect your hair.
2. Ditch the soap
If you think hot water in winter is a bad idea for your skin, soap is even worse.
Traditional bar soaps have a drying lather that also damages the lipid layer of your skin. So, make sure you use a non-drying cleansing wash or a bar that is soap-free.
3. Boost your moisture
Time to change to a richer face and body cream, especially if your skin feels dry and tight.
Try to apply your moisturiser as soon you get out of the shower on slightly damp skin to really trap moisture.
If the thought of using a richer, perhaps heavier face cream doesn’t appeal to you, add a hydrating serum under your usual product. Even oily skin can still become dehydrated in winter, so make sure you use a moisturiser suited to your skin type. For oily skins, look for the words hydrating and oil-free.
While we’re on the subject of moisture, start using an exfoliator. As the winter air dries out your skin, a bunch of dead, flaky skin sits on the surface of your skin. That makes it look dull and even clogs pores. For face, look for a chemical exfoliator or enzymatic peel rather than a physical scrub. Physical scrubs with salt or sugar crystals or bits of nutshell are fine for the body. Remember to rub the skin gently, rather than scrubbing away. If you’re going to use a product with synthetic microbeads, make sure it says they are biodegradable. We don’t want to pollute the oceans.
4. Crowning glory
Hiding your beautiful tresses under a beanie and afraid to take it off?
Two tips to avoid the dreaded hat hair:
- Make sure your hair is properly moisturised to avoid excess static. Completely dry your hair before you put on your hat. If you part your hair on the left, try parting it on the right before you put on your hat. You’ll have more volume when you take off your hat and flip it back.
- Still got those gorgeous blonde highlights from your beach holiday? Now’s the time to change and go for a warmer colour. Remember – your face will be paler in winter, so more than two shades either darker or lighter will look rather severe against your skin. Make your hairdresser’s day and give her/him the green light to experiment with all sorts of rich, warm low- and highlights.
5. Foundation fail
If you wear foundation, applying it to flaky skin is a recipe for failure, and will even highlight any problem areas.
Exfoliating will help to keep skin smooth. But, it is also a good idea to change to a moisturising foundation with a satin or dewy finish rather than a matte finish. Instead of using a foundation, a tinted moisturiser will also do the trick. Use a hydrating serum or primer first before you apply the foundation.
6.Good sun/bad sun
Don’t need sunscreen in winter – right? Wrong!
The sun’s harmful rays are still there in winter, and it’s on those grey, overcast days that the UVA rays (the bad ones responsible for aging and skin cancer) are able to filter through the clouds. A hydrating moisturiser with at least SPF factor 30 is your best skin-protecting bet. A tinted one will solve your protection, moisture and foundation issues all in one!
And you do need to be out in the sun in winter to make sure your body gets enough vitamin D. It is necessary for the optimal health of your skin, cells, bones, tissues and organs. Studies estimate that 50% of the population worldwide is vitamin D deficient. So, get outside for at least ten minutes twice a week and expose an area the size of your arms to the sun. And perhaps supplement your diet with vitamin-D rich foods, such as fatty fish (mackerel, sardines, salmon), egg yolks, cheese and butter.
Your friends know you – they know you haven’t just returned from three weeks in the Bahamas, so put away your summer bronzer. If you can’t bear to be really pale, go for a softer shade.
7. Umbrella for your make-up?
Just because you don’t plan to do any swimming for the next few months, you don’t need to stash your waterproof mascara.
The winter wind can be biting and even make you cry, so waterproof eyeliner and mascara can prevent panda eyes on a blustery day.
Remember too, that your face is paler in the winter. So, choose richer versions of your eye-shadow and lipstick that doesn’t make your skin look too washed out.
8. Hands and feet
‘No-one sees my feet in winter – or even my hands for that matter!’
Winter is the time when your hands and feet become drier, and cold weather means reduced blood flow to both hands and feet, so you can end up with blotchy, blue-tinged tips. With less oxygen and fewer necessary nutrients getting to your extremities, your nails and cuticles may become brittle and more likely to break and split.
- Keep hand cream close by and re-apply every time you wash your hands.
- Use cuticle oil at least once a week to keep your nails hydrated
- Wear gloves whenever you can to protect your nails.
Just because no-one sees your feet, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be taking care of them. In fact, if you leave them for the winter, getting them back into summer shape will be more difficult.
- Have a regular pedicure if you can, or at least soak your feet, buff your heels and soles with a foot file.
- Use a good nourishing treatment on your feet at night. Slip your feet into some socks and let the nourishment sink in.
9. From the inside out
Drinking a glass of cold water just doesn’t sound that appealing when the temperature is in single figures!
You’re still losing water every day though, through sweat and more frequent trips to tinkle, and your body is using energy to keep you warm, so it’s important to get your daily dose of water.
In addition, your skin needs proper hydration from the inside out (perhaps even more so now than in summer). Dehydrated skin makes your skin look saggy and accentuates fine lines and wrinkles, not to mention stealing your youthful glow!
- Hot drinks are just as good for keeping you hydrated as long as you choose decaf coffee or herbal teas.
- Or make yourself a cup of hot water with ginger, lemon and a cinnamon stick – good against the lurgies and delicious too.
- Another favourite is hot water with a tablespoon of cloudy apple cider vinegar and a teaspoon of honey. Tastes like hot apple juice.
- Don’t stop eating salads and fruit in winter – apples, cucumbers, lettuce, celery etc as well as citrus fruits are all good sources of water.
10. And – lastly – lovely lips
Lips are more likely to become chapped in winter. If you’re not a lip balm user, but lick your lips to keep them moisturised, you could be doing yourself more harm than good. The skin on your lips doesn’t have any oil glands, so it cannot supply its own moisture. When you lick your lips, the dry winter air evaporates the liquid in your saliva and bye-bye moisture!
Avoid any lip balms with fragrance. Lanolin is also a bad idea if you have sensitive skin or eczema. Rather use a conditioning, extra-moisturising formula that will heal as well as protect.
Here’s a thought – you don’t have to switch to a darker shade of lipstick just because it’s winter. Keep using those bright shades to brighten your complexion and make you feel sunny when it’s cold outside.
Winter is the perfect time to treat yourself (and others) to a little luxury – splash out!