Are you suffering from the typical Winter skin problems, yet none of your usual tricks are working? Look no further. In Winter, our skin is faced with two factors that it usually doesn’t have to tackle at the same time, being low humidity and harsh winds. The effects are ones that you have undoubtedly experienced yourself, whether you’re usually dry or oily, namely itchy, tight, dehydrated skin.
Low humidity and harsh winds impair something known as our skin’s barrier function. Our skin has a protective film made up of dead skin cells and lipids (fats) – it is its raincoat, as it is waterproof and ensures that the lower layers of our skin are protected from potential irritants and bacteria. Studies on the subject of our skin’s barrier and weather are fairly conclusive: in times of low air humidity, such as in the Winter and especially in Northern countries, our skin’s barrier does not function optimally and our skin is more easily irritated. To put it simply, physiologically, our skin’s defenses are down.
Do you want the good news? Well, you’ll be waiting a little bit longer, as when our barrier is impaired, our skin can’t hold on to its own hydration as well as it usually would. This means that dry skin will be drier and oily skin will remain as oily but will perhaps also be dehydrated at the same time. In Winter, there are no winners.
The signs of Winter skin dehydration
In case you are not yet convinced that the way your skin is currently behaving is down to the effects of Winter skin dehydration, here are some key signs that we see in our clients in the Nerd Network:
Pronounced lines and wrinkles
Your wrinkles have not truly worsened dramatically in the last few weeks. When our skin is properly hydrated, it is plump and fresh, like a grape. When our skin is dehydrated, the appearance of even the finest of expression lines will be pronounced, like a raisin. Unlike raisins, your skin can be rehydrated to grape-form, so no need to wine about it.
Tight skin, flaking and patches
If your skin feels like a thin sheet of paper stretched across your face, it is dehydrated, friend. You may also be seeing some tender pink patches with flaking skin, or general flaking. With the combo of your skin lacking it’s usual protection plus losing moisture by the minute, irritation may happen.
Darker circles and dull skin
For those of us with genetically dark circles, the very last thing we want are darker circles. Dehydrated skin will look dull in general, and this dull skin will make dark circles appear darker. Additionally, in the Winter, our circulation tends not to be as great, which means that blood can stagnate under the eyes, leading to purple circles – the more you know.
Worsening of pre-existing skin conditions
This is a specific one, but if you suffer from eczema, psoriasis or rosacea, for example, your symptoms may worsen or become more frequent. These conditions are inherently linked to issues with your skin’s barrier, so when your barrier is under further fire, nothing good can come from it.
Adjusting your Winter skincare
When it comes to Winter skincare, it is not just about products. If you’re an avid reader here, you will know that we are never about just products. You need to take lifestyle into consideration, as well as nutrition and the products you’re using.
Skip hot showers and turn down the heating – If you are thinking to yourself, “Oh, okay, the only two things making my life remotely liveable right now, I will absolutely fix that”, I ain’t gonna apologise for the truth. Hot showers strip our skin of sebum, damaging our barrier further, and blasting ourselves with hot air when we come in from the cold is definitely contributing to this barrier damage. Your showers should be lukewarm , and you should limit the use of heaters in your home and car where possible. You could also invest in a humidifier. You can get smaller humidifiers from around €40. A humidifier will last you years and is definitely worthwhile, in my opinion.
Cut down on your exfoliation – Reduce how often you are exfoliating, STAT. If you use an exfoliating cleanser once every two days, you could drop it to once every three days, and avoid potent exfoliation products if your skin is dehydrated and irritated. This is not the time to do an at-home peel; you’re looking to nourish your skin and support its barrier as much as possible.
Be wary of hyaluronic acid – Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, meaning that it draws water to it. Low molecular weight hyaluronic acid draws moisture deeper into the skin and high molecular weight hyaluronic acid draws moisture up to the upper layers, plumping the skin out. This is ideal when our barrier is intact as an intact barrier will stop moisture from seeping out. However, without a healthy barrier, hyaluronic acid can draw moisture out of the skin so it can actually play a role in dehydrating the skin. This doesn’t mean you have to stop using it – it just means you’re best off using it alongside other hydrating ingredients, whether within the same product or in your routine in general.
Slather yourself in lipids and oils – There is a whole post about lipids and oils in the Winter months, but to summarise, a product containing ceramides, cholesterol, fatty acids or emollient oils will go a long way. If you usually have dry, dehydrated or mature skin, the IMAGE Vital C Hydrating Repair Créme (€77.50, available to Nerd Networkers) is a luscious night cream packed with ceramides, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. If you are prone to congestion, the Caudalie Vinosource SOS Thirst-Quenching Serum (€30.00, The Skin Nerd store) contains hyaluronic acid plus squalane, the saturated form of an non-comedogenic oil native to our skin.
Bin the wipes – If you haven’t chucked your makeup wipes already, just do it, okay? The drying alcohol and sensitising fragrances found in them will just impair your barrier further. The Cleanse Off Mitt® (€5.95, The Skin Nerd store) was created by a beautiful, Irish genius (I jest, I jest) to replace wipes and includes no ingredients. Just add water and your makeup is gone. Simple.
Become friends with hydration masks – If you’re of the opinion that hydration masks aren’t for you, eat your words. There are hydration masks that are a thick film of juicy oils for those who are low in sebum naturally, there are lightweight, non-pore-clogging ones for those who get spots and there are ones that provide the skin with more benefits than just hydration too. The Youth Lab Thirst Relief Mask (€20.00, The Skin Nerd store) is incredibly affordable, full of the aforementioned ceramides, and works with ALL skin types. On the slightly pricier side of things, you have the cult Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Masque (€44.00, The Skin Nerd store) which works to help repair your skin’s barrier whilst hydrating it.
Think about a barrier cream – This is particularly pertinent advice to those with barrier-related skin conditions. A barrier cream is a cream made up of occlusive ingredients, moisturising ingredients that create a film across the skin. This film works as a second barrier to back your own up and prevent irritation. Our nerdie pick is the Dermalogica Barrier Repair (€47.00, The Skin Nerd store), as it sits well under makeup (unlike many other barrier creams).
Support your skin from the inside – A healthy body with optimal levels of nutrients equals healthy skin. Many of our clients who take Advanced Nutrition Programme Skin Omegas+ (€37.00, The Skin Nerd store) say that they help their skin to feel plump, hydrated and glowy year round.
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