Winter Skin - Looking after your skin during the colder months
The colder weather has well and truly arrived. This wintery climate has the potential to wreak havoc with our skin. The change from warm to cold, from our centrally heated homes to the chilly outdoors, causes stress to the skin and can leave it feeling really parched, dry and dull. This is because cold air carries less moisture and it causes the water to evaporate from our skin.
Here are my tips to help relieve tight, dry and sensitised skin. They will work to encourage a more hydrated, comfortable and glowing complexion and maintain, or rebuild, the natural protective barrier on the surface of the skin. Plus, it's worth noting that, it's not just about applying more moisturiser.
Avoid harsh facial washes
Don't use harsh facial washes to clean the skin. No matter what your skin type it needs so much more moisture at this time of year and unfortunately many foaming facial washes strip the skin and leave it feeling dry and tight. Never aim for that 'squeaky clean' feeling. If you get that, you're using the wrong product for your skin type. Use luke warm water, not hot water as when the temperature is too high this will also aggravate the skin. And the least said about facial wipes the better! Avoid them at all costs! Instead, choose something more comforting and kind to your skin i.e. a cleansing balm, gel, cream or milk. Any skin type will benefit from choosing these during the colder months. Aim to clean your face once in the morning and twice in the evening (a double cleanse) to effectively remove make up, dirt, sweat, pollution, sunscreen etc. (Cleansing once in the evening is fine if you haven't been outside, worn make up or applied sunscreen). Many problems start when we don't clean our faces properly. Thoroughly cleansed skin creates a beautiful clean canvas for subsequent products.
Check out my blog about cleansing:
My top picks:
Elemis Pro Collagen Cleansing Balm
Kate Somerville Goat Milk Moisturising Cleanser
Votary Cleansing Oils
Elemis Dynamic Resurfacing Facial Wash
Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm & Light Cleansing Gel
Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel
Clarins Velvet Cleansing Milk
Elemis Superfood AHA Glow Cleansing Butter
The Organic Pharmacy Refillable Carrot Butter Cleanser
Neals Yard Remedies Frankincense Intense Cleansing Melt
Introduce hydrating essences
These are like hydrating toners, often thicker in consistency, which deliver a huge hit of moisture to the skin. Perhaps swap out your normal toner in the evening and replace with an essence. Apply to a cotton pad and sweep over the face and neck. The moisture these deliver will also help products, that are applied afterwards, work more efficiently.
Want to learn more about toners? Click the link below:
My top picks:
Fresh Black Tea Kombucha Facial Treatment Essence
Caudalie Concentrated Brightening Glycolic Essence Vinoperfect
Elemis Pro Collagen Marine Moisture Essence
Clarins Super Restorative Smoothing Treatment Essence
Our skin is continuously renewing and part of this process is the culmination of layers of dry dead skin cells settling on the surface. An exfoliator will remove some of these to reveal a smoother, more even and fresher complexion which is more receptive to subsequently applied products i.e. serums and moisturisers. If you are used to using scrubs that contain physical grains try a very gently one that contains natural particles. You don't want anything that is going to scratch or damage your skin. I personally prefer a liquid exfoliator containing acids such as Glycolic, Lactic or Salicylic acid. Don't be scared by the name, I'm not talking about harsh acids that leave your skin sore and irritated. These acids are often derived from plants etc and work well with our skin. They nibble away at the dead skin cells and help speed up cell turnover which, as we get older, naturally slows down. Apply them to a cotton pad and sweep over the face, neck and décolleté avoiding the eye area. They are generally more effective than physical exfoliators. The advice on how often to use them during the colder months varies but I'd say don't be tempted to overuse them. A couple of times a week will be enough and ensure you moisturiser and use sun screen afterwards every day. They will also prep the skin for a smooth and comfortable shave.
Interested in reading more about exfoliating? Click the link below:
My top picks:
Medik8 Press & Glow
Pixi Glow Tonic
Pestle & Mortar Natural Moisturising Factors Lactic Acid
Emma Hardie Exfoliating Brightening Toner
Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel
Elemis Dynamic Resurfacing Facial Pads
The Organic Pharmacy Four Acid Peel
Spritz and spritz again
Consider using a hydrating facial mist, one that contains hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin, and spritz throughout the day. This may feel weird as you might associate facial spritzers with warm weather but they are incredibly hydrating and you will notice a difference within hours. Spray onto bare skin, after shaving, over make up, any time. I keep one by my desk, in my bag and in my fridge! I love them. But don't confuse these with a water atomiser. Spraying water on the face will not have the same positive effect. It will just result in more dehydration.
My top picks:
Elemis Superfood Kefir Tea Mist
Caudalie Beauty Elixir
Herbivore Rose Hibiscus Face Mist
The Organic Pharmacy Rose Facial Spritz
Dr Jart Ceramidin Cream Mist
January Labs Restorative Tonic Mist
Apply a hyaluronic acid serum
Incorporate a serum that contains hyaluronic acid and apply after cleansing, toning/liquid exfoliator and your eye product. This ingredient is one of the best ways to achieve hydrated skin. It occurs naturally in our skin but can be negatively impacted at this time of year. It's estimated that hyaluronic acid can hold up to one thousand times its own weight in water molecules and has the ability to bind moisture to the cells within our skin. It's most effective in serum form and is therefore pretty lightweight, so perfect for any skin type (it won't make skin oily). I use a hyaluronic acid serum every morning at the moment before my moisturiser. If you love baths apply your hyaluronic acid serum after cleansing and let the steam and humidity work its magic.
Want to know more about serums in general. Click the link below:
My top hyaluronic acid picks:
Dr Barbara Sturn Hyaluronic Serum
The Organic Pharmacy Hyaluronic Acid Serum
Medik8 Hydra B5 Intense Serum
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Serum
Oskia Isotonic C Hydra Serum
Facial oils are your friend
Integrate a facial oil into your routine if you don't already use one. Plant oils can bring great comfort to dehydrated, irritated and parched skin. There are oils available for all skin types, even oily. Using a facial oil on oily skin will not make it oilier, it will help to regulate oil production whilst hydrating. I love the feeling of an oil on the skin and tend to use one most evenings before or instead of a moisturiser. I sometimes use them during the day too if my skin is feeling particularly parched or I am out walking. You could add a few drops of your facial oil into your moisturiser, foundation, mask or hand cream for an extra day time hydration hit. Or before and after shaving. Remember though - your aiming for grip, not slip. So less is definitely more when applying it.
Are facial oils new to you? Want to understand a little more? Click the link below:
My top picks:
Sunday Riley CEO Glow Facial Oil
Kiehls Midnight Recovery Concentrate
Clarins Blue Orchid Facial Oil for dehydrated skin
Elemis Superfood Facial Oil
Esse Repair Oil
Don't skip moisturiser
Always moisturise, even if your skin is naturally oily or combination. This helps to protect your skins natural barrier, acting as a shield against the negative effects of this cold weather and central heating. Therefore keeping our skin hydrated. Observe your own skin - is your current moisturiser being absorbed super quick once you've applied it? Is your skin still feeling tight, dry, uncomfortable? If you wear makeup do you feel like it disappears or slides off? If this is the case, it might not be rich enough. You could apply another layer of the same moisturiser once the first layer has sunk in or you could choose a richer cream. Look for ingredients such as ceramides, hyaluronic acid and fatty acids which will help to lock in moisture. You want to minimise trans epidermal water loss where water is lost from the skin and all of these steps will help to reduce this. Just be careful not to overload with too many heavy products (this is another reason why cleansing and exfoliating properly are so vital).
Read a little more about moisturisers in the links below:
My top picks:
Origins Ginzing Ultra Hydrating Energy Boosting Cream
Zelens 3T Complex
Elemis Super Food Night Cream
Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Face Cream
Dr Jart Ceramidin Cream
Sunday Riley CEO Afterglow
L'Occitane Immortelle Precious Cream
The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factors
Clarins Multi-Active Nuit
Kiehls Ultra Facial Cream
Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream for Men
L'Occitane Cade Rich Shaving Cream
Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream
Grown Alchemist Hydra Repair Day Cream
Elemis SOS Emergency Cream
Elemis Superfood Priming Moisturiser
Treat the skin
Using a hydrating mask a couple of times a week will not only feel like a real treat for your skin, it will provide a hit of much needed nourishment. Choose a hydrating mask instead of more clay based masks. Although if you do have oily, spot prone skin, apply a clay mask first and then follow straight afterwards with a hydrating one. It's quite common for oily skin to be dehydrated too. I often apply a mask and either get some chores done around the house whilst it's doing its magic or simply sit with a cup of tea before washing the excess off. Always apply onto clean, exfoliated skin. I always massage in a facial oil before popping on a mask to deliver an extra boost.
Click the link below if you'd like to read some more about face masks:
My top picks:
Clarins SOS Comfort Nourishing Mask
The Organic Pharmacy Honey & Jasmine Mask
Summer Fridays Jet Lag Face Mask
Elemis Pro Collagen Marine Mask
Avene Soothing Radiance Mask
Elemis Superfood Vital Veggie Face Mask
Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel
Book in for a professional treatment
Winter skin can often be dull. A professional facial every four weeks or so can effectively clean, exfoliate and hydrate the skin, boosting cell renewal, encouraging a glowing radiance. Whilst maximising your every day skincare routine too. They are well worth investing in if you are able to.
Avoid products containing alcohol
Avoid any products which contain large amounts of alcohol. When checking the ingredient listings you really don't want alcohol as one of the first on the list. There is an exception to this with exfoliating acids where alcohol is used to keep the formula stable.
Don’t forget your lips. Keep a balm in your bag, on your desk, in your car for ease of application throughout the day and many brands offer lip masks which are richer and are ideal for overnight use.
My top picks:
La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume Lips
Dr PawPaw Overnight Multipurpose Lip Mask
Carmex Classic Moisturising Lip Balm
Grown Alchemist Lip Balm
Don't forget body care too
Don't forget to look after the skin on your body in addition to your face. This can become dry, itchy and generally more sensitive during the winter.
Opt for gentle body washes that don't contain harsh detergents such as Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS). This is used as a foaming agent and has the potential to irritate the skin when it's already dry.
Or choose a bath or shower oil instead. These are wonderfully comforting on the skin. Try not to have your shower or bath water too hot and if you can stand it blast your body with cold water at the end of your shower even if it’s just for a few seconds.
Gently exfoliate or body brush once or twice a week to remove dry dead skin cells which will allow body moisturisers to absorb more effectively.
Moisturise every day after showering or bathing. If you are short on time choose a body oil as these often absorb quicker than a cream or lotion.
Apply a rich hand cream before bed. If your hands are particularly dry apply another layer once the first has absorbed. You could even wear cotton gloves to bed which helps to lock in moisture. Try to apply a lighter cream throughout the day and remember to exfoliate your hands a couple of times a week too. This will help dry skin enormously. Wear gloves when washing up or cleaning to help protect hands. After a few nights the skin barrier will start to heal.
For some tips on caring for the skin on your body click the link below:
My top picks:
Aromatherapy Associates Shower Oils
L'Occitane Shea Body Shower Oil
Elemis Skin Nourishing Shower Cream
Sanctuary Spa Shower Oils
Clarins Tonic Sugar Polisher
Beauty Pie Super Healthy Skin Nourishing Body Polish
Ren Guerande Salt Exfoliating Body Balm
Clarins Tonic Treatment Body Oil
Clarins Tonic Moisturising Body Balm
Clarins Moisture Rich Body Lotion
Temple Spa Drift Away Body Oil
Beauty Pie Super Healthy Skin Deluxe Body Moisture Cream
L'Occitane Shea Butter Body Cream
Aveeno Daily Moisturising Cream
L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream & Hand Balm
L'Occitane Shea Butter Foot Cream & Foot Balm
Neals Yard Remedies Frankincense Intense Hand Treatment Serum
L'Occitane One Minute Hand Scrub
Jessica Phenomen Oil Intensive Moisturising Cuticle Oil
Key ingredients to look for
Ceramides - These naturally occur within our skin but skincare that contains ceramides will contribute to moisturising and preserving the protective barrier.
Hyaluronic acid and Glycerin - These are examples of humectants which work by attracting moisture from the air around us into the skin or keeping water from escaping from the skin. They are amazing sources of hydration.
Squalene and fatty acids - These are emollients which cover the skin with a protective barrier. They also help to reinforce the skins natural barrier.
Water & Supplements
Water - Don't forget to drink it. Even though it's cold we still need to keep our bodies hydrated and look after our skin (and everything else) from the inside out. I find the easiest way to drink the required amount is to carry a water bottle around with me which I drink two or three times over during the day.
Supplements - Opt for omega 3 oils to support your skin from the inside. If you've never taken these before check with a healthcare professional first. You can include omegas in your diet too in the form of salmon, mackerel, walnuts, chia seeds, spinach, eggs, tofu, brussels sprouts, tuna, green leafy vegetables and avocados to name a few.
I like Solgar, The Organic Pharmacy and Natures Aid.
Look at your routine times
Do you normally leave it until bed time to clean your face etc? Bring it forwards so that you are caring for your skin earlier in the evening. If you aren't going out, remove make up/clean your face/apply products once you get home from work, the school run etc. That way you can check your skin throughout the evening to see if it needs further facial oil, serum or moisturiser. I don't mean scrutinise it under a microscope. Just look at it, feel it, see how products absorb. It's not necessarily the case that our skin does all of its repairing whilst we sleep, there's lots of evidence to show that most of it's hard work is done before midnight. So don't leave caring for your skin until you go to bed.
By building a skincare wardrobe containing different products for different issues, concerns and seasons, you can choose what to layer onto your face to keep it comfortable and at its best. So remember, during these colder months layer up your skincare much like you would your clothes. Look at your skin, feel your skin, is it drinking up the products you are applying? If so, apply a little more. This process will allow dry, dehydrated or irritated skin the ideal environment to heal, feel comfortable and glow. Which is just what we are seeking to do.