There is so much to look forward to as winter starts to creep in. Cosy evenings curled up in front of the fire, hearty meals and, most importantly, hot chocolate! I love the idea of winter. Getting into your jammies when you get in from work (come on its not just me). And slowly working my way through a Netflix series with the electric blanket on. Rock and roll I know!
But on the flip side, I hate being cold and the affect it can have on my skin. The second the heating goes on it’s almost like I can feel my skin drying out and rapidly aging. A bit like in that scene from Indiana jones and the Last Crusade… The winter can be so cruel to our skin, often leaving us feeling dull, dry and sore.
I have been a beauty therapist for 15 years. And in that time, I have constantly been asked how to look after and heal winter damaged skin. How many of us have had painful cracked lips, dry and tight skin or even chapped, cracked hands? Too many of us! However, we can help prevent these things from happening and keep our skin looking rosy and feeling comfortable this winter. You know me, I’m all about keeping a simple, effective and realistic skincare regime. So I have put together my top 5 tips that will get you through winter glowing!
But first, let’s take a quick look at what happens in the winter that makes our skin so uncomfortable?
Having our heating on takes out much needed moisture and dries out our skin. It’s the same with your car heaters, so try make sure they are pointed away from your face. When your skin becomes dry and dehydrated it feels, tight, itchy and becomes unbalanced.
Obviously in winter it’s colder and windier but it’s also less humid. The cold wind and lack of humidity will dry out your skin and disrupt its protective layer. It will leave you with sore, irritated and even cracked skin. This can leave your skin exposed, less protected and feeling pretty uncomfortable.
Did you know washing in water that is too hot will dehydrate your skin and remove its natural oils? I am a lover of a hot bath. But if you notice your skin getting more uncomfortable in the winter, then I would reduce the water temperature. This is especially so if you get cracked hands as hot water will make them worse.
We can’t avoid the winter and we need to put our heating on, so what can we do? How can we keep our skin nourished and protected?
1. Rethink your cleanser!
Cream cleansers are ideal for winter as they have a much more soothing effect. Always make sure its soap and alcohol free so it won’t strip your skin and disrupt the pH balance. After cleansing, your skin should feel soft and supple and you shouldn’t feel like your skin is tight. If it is then your cleanser is probably too harsh and it’s best to try a new one.
Get your cream cleanser and massage it into your face with wet fingertips. Then remove it with warm water and a flannel. This should leave your skin feeling fresh, supple and calm. When it comes to cream cleansers, there are enough brands to suit all budgets and skin types.
Don’t be put off if you have an oily or spot prone skin. Cream cleansers are amazing for your skin too. I’ve had acne my whole life (due to PCOS) and my skin is so much better with natural and gentle cream cleansers. Using a strong, astringent product can actually remove too much oil which disrupts your skin’s protective layer.
I always try and look for a natural brand. Currently I use Neils Yard Remedies frankincense cleanser. But I do also like the Tropic cleanser and the Body shop have a good range too. Don’t be afraid to look around and even ask for a sample to make sure you’re choosing the right product.
Don’t fear heavier creams in winter. I add an oil at night and a hydrating serum in the day to keep my skin nourished and plump. At my age it also helps to keep away the wrinkles. Firstly, look for a richer night cream. If you can’t find one you like, try looking for an oil or a serum. Find one that’s rich in essential fatty acids and vitamin E to help strengthen your skin’s lipid film (protective layer).
If it’s a cold day or if I’m running in winter, I usually apply a layer of wild rose balm or coconut oil. I do this before I leave to give my skin an extra layer against the elements. It’s all about keeping your skin’s protective layer healthy and preventing your skin from drying out and becoming exposed.
In the day I really recommend using something containing hyaluronic acid under your normal cream and SPF. Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced by our bodies and is found in our skin, connective tissue and joints. It’s a gel-like substance that can hold up to 1000 times its weight in moisture. Using hyaluronic acid in your routine will keep your skin plump and hydrated. Scientific studies have shown that Hyaluronic Acid has many benefits. It helps improve the skins production of collagen, fights free radicals, keeps skin elasticity and even has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Just a few benefits then! I recommend using a good serum with this in before you moisturise. It’ll really help to keep away the winter skin and make your skin glow!
3. Hand cream… keep it handy
Cracked, chapped hands can be incredibly painful and really hard to heal. The best thing we can do is to try and prevent it from happening in the first place. Keep a good quality hand cream in your handbag and re-apply it after washing etc. I try keep one in my bag, by the sink and one richer one by my bed. Having them dotted around ensures that I’m not going to forget. It may sound excessive but, for me, if it helps me remember to put it on, then it’s worth it.
If you find your hands really suffer in the winter, then look for a balm too. You can just use this at night or apply it locally to the sorer areas. I tend to use my wild rose balm over my standard cream if I feel them becoming uncomfortable. If you find that your hands don’t get chapped, then I wouldn’t worry about the balm. Just using a regular hand cream should be enough to keep the skin soft and supple.
Try to remember to wear gloves when you’re out as this will really help reduce the risk of cracking skin. And keeping the water temperature warm, instead of hot, will prevent stripping your skin’s natural oils and causing further discomfort.
4. Exfoliate less
As someone who loves a good scrub, this takes a bit of getting used to. With so many elements working to unbalance your skin, the last thing you need is more irritation caused by over-exfoliating. Try reducing the frequency down to once a week or even using a “polish” rather than a scrub. They gently sweep away dead skin and impurities without being too abrasive, leaving your skin protected. My current favourite is the Neil’s Yard rehydrating rose polish. It’s really gentle on the skin and smells amazing! However, there are a lot of brands out there. Try to look for a creamy exfoliator or one that is labelled as polish as it won’t be as abrasive.
5. Lather on the lip balm
Cracked and sore lips in the winter is horrid. When they feel rough, then split… Argh! Not to mention when your lips are so dry, they just absorb your lipstick. And then you’re left with the dried colour around the edge of your lips! We have all been there and it’s not the best look.
Before leaving to go out, make sure you apply some lip balm. You can even do this over your lipstick or under… Or both. This will nourish your lips as well as create a protective barrier, preventing them from drying out further. Just like with the hand cream, I keep one in my bag and one by my bed. This ensures that I don’t forget and leave out this step. I’m all about convenience! Try to make this part of your daily regime. It will make a big difference when the cold wind really starts to blow!
So, there you have my 5 best tips for gorgeous skin this winter. They are simple steps that will make a big difference. I advise starting them now rather than waiting for your skin to start getting sore. Let me know if this advice helps you or if you have any of your own “top winter tips”. I always love finding new great skincare advice.
For more advice and tips on your skin just drop me a comment or a message. Or why not give your skin a bit of TLC with one of my facials and a consultation?
Keep your skin safe this winter