How To Put A Stop To Winter Skin Dehydration

Can you believe how close we are to Christmas already?! All I can say is thank God for two-day delivery…

With this ferocious drop in temperature and actual real life snow, even if you have the best-tempered skin out of everyone you know, you’re probably seeing some sort of effect now. The most common skin concerns in Winter, and specifically December, are dehydration and concerns CAUSED by this dehydration.

If you tell someone that their skin is dehydrated due to Winter, they will usually slap a bit of moisturiser on, scratch or scrub off the flaking (owch) and tell you “well, Winter is nearly over”. When it comes to skin dryness brought on by Winter, you have to examine the roots of the problem… It is not Winter as a season that is giving you Sahara-desert skin, it has to do with the extrinsic factors associated with Winter.

Using heaters

winter skin dehydration

It is baltic – all of our hands are painful and red even from just nipping the washing off the line quickly. It is not fair but it is life. It is an easy problem to fix though. Pop on the heater, whether it be in-house, in-car or in-office… yes?

Unfortunately, it can spell devastation for your skin. Space heaters, central heating and car heaters all warm you up by blowing dry air at you. Dry air saps the moisture from your skin. Dehydrated skin doesn’t sound very scary and I find that because of this, it is not taken seriously. “Ah, I’ll just drink more water”.

The issue is that when your skin is dehydrated, it will be itchy, tight and feel dry whilst simultaneously being oily on top, as it is desperately trying to keep itself protected. When your skin overproduces oil, you are more prone to bumpiness and congestion and spots of any kind. You may go from having normal (ie. not oily, not dry) skin one day, with absolutely no skin complaints, to suddenly trying to battle blackheads, whiteheads and dry patches.

If this sounds like you, cut down on the heaters whenever possible and consider investing in a humidifier. Humidifiers put more moisture into the air and thus more moisture into the skin.

Cold weather

It is not news that cold weather can dehydrate the skin, strip the skin’s protective layer and impair its barrier function… oh wait, it is news?!

Yes indeed, the blustery, icy winds can take the protection right off your skin, meaning that your skin can lose hydration faster than Liza’s holey bucket. The key for this is giving your skin’s barrier a helping hand as much as possible… this is easy peasy lemon squeezy (without the lemon squeezy, unless it’s going in your water):


  • Eat your skincare. G’wan, gulp down that serum…disclaimer: don’t actually do that. I mean get omegas in from the inside to boost the barrier on the outside. Fatty acids are one of the ingredients of the glue that holds together the skin’s barrier and it is this barrier than helps the skin to hold its moisture. It is the lid on the Tupperware that is the shkin – when the lid is broken, all the liquids inside will be able to leak out.
  • You probably know what I am going to recommend….. Advanced Nutrition Programme Skin Omegas+! And yes, you can get omegas through what you’re eating, but are you eating five pieces of fish a day? No? Well, then you need to be getting them supplements into you.


Moisturisers and Serums

winter skin dehydration

  • Any other time of year, for dehydrated skin, I would recommend humectant ingredients. Humectants pull water from the lower levels of the skin (ie. our body’s hydration levels) to give moisture to the upper layers of the skin – they are the Robin Hoods of skingredients. Examples of humectants would be hyaluronic acid, glycerin, seaweed and butylene glycol.
  • However, in the Winter, humectants are not ideal for the skin as they are trying to pull water upwards from the lower layers – humectants do not provide any protection to the skin’s barrier, and as I explained, without full barrier function, this moisture does not stay locked in to the skin. A humectant without barrier protection can pull the hydration straight out of the skin.
  • What you are looking for is something that helps to lock moisture in and boost the barrier. A great example of this is Dermalogica’s UltraCalming Barrier Repair (€47.60). It is full of Evening Primrose Oil and Borage Seed Oil and antioxidant vitamins C and E. Imagine these oils as the reserves for when the army that is your protective layer is down a few soldiers! If you are using a product like this, you should be okay to continue using your hyaluronic-based product, so long as your skin is not immensely dry.

Mineral Makeup:

  • Now, I’m not a fan of telling anyone not to go makeup-free. I adore seeing people going out sans makeup and I think that it is much preferable to wearing cosmetic makeup if you are absolutely against mineral makeup. The issue is that, in the Winter, just as you need to wrap up to protect yourself from health concerns, your skin needs to wrap up to protect itself from skin health concerns.
  • This means getting layers on to the skin, such as the aforementioned barrier cream. Mineral makeup provides the skin with an additional layer between it and the weather and hyper pure mineral makeup, such as the Jane Iredale powders, can even be worn whilst exercising, so it is perfect for the mad things still getting out for runs in the evening!

I know I sound like a broken record by now, but when it comes to the Winter months, the importance of binning the wipes is twofold, threefold, fourfold… very fecking important, really. Wipes contain both alcohol and fragrances that impair the skin’s barrier function – the exact barrier function that helps it to keep in its moisture. Switch to the Cleanse Off Mitt as your pre-cleanse and I guarantee that your skin will have neither the tight nor oily feeling that accompanies wipe usage. Hand on heart.

While on the topic, your micellar water might not be helping your skin stay hydrated either… sorry! Although many of the forerunners of micellaire water, such as Nuxe and Yon-ka, are very skin-friendly, many of the versions that are cheap and readily available in Ireland are full of skin-stripping alcohols, making them much the same as wipes.

Quick reminder to all: Winter light is still sunlight so keep applying that SPF even though it may feel fruitless.

The Nerdie Recap

Looking for hydrated skin in the Winter?

  • Take omegas
  • Get a humidifier
  • Avoid humectants
  • Apply mineral makeup
  • Bin the wipes (and the micellar)


  • Patricia Murtagh says:

    Hi Jennifer, what serum would you advice for someone with rosacea? Thank you.

    • Jennifer Rock says:

      Hi Patricia, to provide best relief for rosacea symptoms, I would recommend a 360˚approach (including omegas internally) and to have a thorough full consult to get to know your skin’s story so far x