Winter Skin Guide
Help your skin beat the harsh winter weather.
Harsh winter weather can play havoc with your skin. Our Lifestyle & Grooming Editor Lee Kynaston has a few simple strategies for beating the big chill.
If you’ve ever wondered why your skin doesn’t like the cold it’s partly due to the fact that bitter winds and icy conditions make keratin – a key component of skin - stiffer and less flexible. And when this happens it becomes prone to dryness, cracking and, ultimately, premature ageing.
The solution? Make sure you moisturise twice daily and if skin still feels dry and tight upgrade to a moisturiser specially formulated for dry skin which offers round-the-clock protection. It’s also worth taking an Omega 3 fish oil supplement too as some studies have shown it can help prevent dry skin.
If you play a lot of outdoor sports or are just hitting the gym regulalry a good quality body moisturiser is a must-have.
The combination of exposure to the elements and daily showers (hot water strips skin of its protective oils and speeds up moisture loss) means that the skin on your body will probably need extra hydration. Simply slather on liberally immediately after towel-drying.
If dry skin on knees, heels and elbows is your problem try Korres Guava Body Butter which has been formulated to target particularly dry skin.
The kind of temperate fluctuations skin is subjected to in winter can severely disrupt its natural equilibrium, not only making it dry but interfering with its natural regeneration process too.
To avoid flakiness and speed up cell turnover exfoliate skin with the help of a facial scrub. Polaar Purifying Face Scrub is a good choice because it contains ingredients to moisturise the skin at the same time. In the winter I find I can up exfoliation from twice to three times a week as long as I don’t apply the scrub too vigorously.
Lips take a real battering in the winter. Made of some of the thinnest skin on the body and with no protective oil glands of their own they’re especially susceptible to chapping, cracking and flaking – especially around the edges or ‘vermilion border’.
To protect them lightly scrub with a dry toothbrush to remove any dry skin then apply a lip balm. Avoid strongly flavoured ones as they tend to make you lip your lips - a habit that only accelerates evaporation of moisture from the skin.
Human tissue, proteins and collagen in the skin all function best in a moist environment so extra humidity generally helps skin function. Unfortunately, winter air (which is dry to begin with) gets even drier once it’s heated up by radiators. As a result it turns into a giant sponge, leaching moisture wherever it can find it, including from your skin.
To combat this assault, try improving the humidity around you at work or in the home by placing a bowl of water next to your desk or favourite chair or invest in a humidifier. Bringing houseplants into your environment can help too.
Although the sun’s skin-burning UVB rays decrease in winter, its wrinkle-causing UVA ones don’t so it’s well worth investing in a daily moisturiser which includes a built-in sunscreen. Apply each morning but switch to a moisturiser without one at night.
We tend to think of summer as being a dangerous time for dehydration but in reality winter can be just as bad. For starters you’re drinking more warming tea and coffee (both of which can be dehydrating) and losing moisture to central heating and biting winds. This is particularly bad news for skin because in cold weather it draws upon moisture reserves from its lower levels to remain supple. The crucial thing is to make sure those reserves are there in the first place. You know what’s required: more fluids. Alas, beer does not count.
Hands aren’t just exposed to the elements in the winter they’re also under attack from constant wear and tear, hot water and harsh detergents too.
You can protect them in a matter of seconds, though, with a daily dose of hand cream. If you’ve always been nervous of trying one in case they’re too scented, try Compagnie de Provence Fragrance-Free Hand Cream which, as the name suggests, is fragrance-free and contains a raft of skin-saving ingredients like Shea Butter, Olive Oil and Vitamin E.
Unless you’re off skiing there’s no chance of you getting a suntan in winter but there’s another reason for skin’s dire palour at this time of year - in cold weather it effectively shuts down the blood vessels nearest to its surface to retain heat internally with the result that skin often looks pale and pasty.
To (literally) put some colour back into your cheeks simply apply a little Myego Fonteint Hydrating Enhancer. One of my favourite skin improvers, this slightly tinted moisturiser not only hydrates skin and evens out skintone, it also gives skin some much needed colour. If your complexion’s less than perfect it hides a multitude of sins too.
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