It’s almost that time of year again. Low temperatures, cold winds, artificial heating and low humidity is no skin’s friend. Dried out skin, cracking and itchiness is one major downside to this time of year. Those suffering eczema and dermatitis know this all too well.
Winter conditions cause the skin barrier’s functions to breakdown due to inflammation, and a build-up of dead skin cells on the skin’s surface exacerbates the problem. So what can we do to try and defend our skin from the nastiness of winter?
The number one solution is to keep your body hydrated.
When we say ‘keep your body hydrated’, this includes inside and out. No moisturiser is effective enough to combat a dehydrated body. Consuming enough water every day (and cutting down on alcohol and any caffeinated drinks too!) as well as essential fatty acids will keep your skin (and the rest of you) hydrated and clear. Essential fatty acids are known to not only keep the body hydrated but combat eczema symptoms; they can be found in raw seeds, avocado, flaxseed oil and fish oil.
Avoid coffee and have some tea
Coffee can help to warm us up, but it can also dehydrate our skin. During winter, opting for a cup of caffeine-free Green Tea can help warm you up, plus the antioxidants contained can also help fight free-radical damage.
Skin care is also key
If you have itching from cracked, dry skin you may want to reassess your skin care regime. Every seasonal change you should be swapping out products – your skin has different requirements at different times of the year. Any skin care products with highly active ingredients may be making your itchy skin worse. Gentle cleaners and toners should be used, do not exfoliate too vigorously, using a moisturiser with lipids is an excellent idea too. For those with sensitive skin, fragranced products may make your skin more sensitive. Exfoliating is extremely important at this time of year. For your face, we recommend 2-3 times per week. For the rest of your body, 1-2 times should be enough. The build-up of dead skin cells prevents absorption of your skin care products, wasting your product and not benefiting your skin whatsoever. Ensure you are also moisturing your body after every shower – this will be further explained later.
Use a humidifier and try not to use indoor heating
It seems crazy to not use indoor heating during winter but it can be seriously bad for your skin! Another alternative would be to use a humidifier in conjunction with your heating system. Indoor heating does not have natural moisture in the air and can draw out moisture from your hair and skin. Using a humidifier will create moisture to be absorbed by your hair and skin.
Have a warm shower, not a hot one
Hot showers during winter are the ultimate luxury, however these too can be damaging. The heat can dry out skin and leave it cracked and itchy. This is why it’s an excellent idea to thoroughly moisturise after every shower. Another good tip for bathing, pat yourself dry with a towel instead of rubbing – gets your dry the same but saves your skin on some unrequired pulling.
Don’t forget your sun protection
Just because you aren’t laid out on the beach right now, doesn’t mean those nasty UVA and UVB rays can’t get to you. A moisturiser with an SPF (30 or more) is ideal. The two biggest signs of ageing can be brought on by unprotected sun exposure – pigmentation and fine lines and wrinkles.