Winter is well and truly here and for most of us, the cold weather really affects our skin and complexion. Here are some simple tips to help you manage or prevent dry, flaky and itchy skin.
This morning as I drove to work, my car’s thermometer had the temperature at 4 degrees, a real sign when the temperature drops, cold winds are about, heating at home and work will lead to low humidity which can really dry your skin leaving it itchy and flaky. This can all lead to even more problematic issues like eczema and dermatitis if not treated and managed well.
Dry skin on your body or face, is a sign that the skin barrier is inflamed as well as a good possibility that there is a build-up of dead skin calls. The best solution you have is to manage and prevent this and o keep your skin hydrated.
Let’s look at some simple ways to make it through the rest of winter and into spring with beautiful healthy skin and complexion.
Inside Out | Internal Hydration
Winter months we tend to reach for comfort foods and forget about what our skin and health needs the most, which is plenty of essential fatty acids (EFAs), particularly omega-3, found in avocado and oily fish and also omega-6, found in nuts, whole grains and flaxseed oil. Another EFA that got my attention recently when I went into a health food store , the friendly assistant recommended Evening Primrose Oil (2 capsules after breakfast and dinner) as they had also experienced dry flaky skin and was able to stop after a week when her dry patch on her hairline went away. (Keen to hear if anyone else has tried this?)
Back to EFAs, these are important building blocks for every cell in your body and there is a lot of evidence over the years that continue to support the health benefits of EFAs for keeping skin healthy and treating skin conditions like eczema. Eating well and taking necessary vitamins during winter can really make a difference to your skin and complexion.
In addition to a diet focused on omega-3 and omega-6 is the need to keep your body and skin hydrated. Your skin relies on good hydration and a good habit in the right direction is drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water a day and reducing drinks that reduce hydration including caffeinated and alcoholic drinks.
Outside In | Topical relief
Review your skincare regimen over winter as your skin in more sensitive with cold winds and wet days and therefore needs a gentler routine. If your skin isn’t broken, itchy or stinging and can still handle active ingredients for anti-aging, keep using it but consider spreading it out over a few days rather than daily.
Using a gentle cleanser for winter is also recommended so you don’t strip moisture away from the skin during these drier months. Natural shedding of your skin slows down when it is cold so products do become less effective as the barrier of dead skin cells prevents absorption. Try products with glycerine and ceramides, they are great for repairing and protecting your skin’s moisture barrier and fragrance-free formulas to counteract potential irritation.
Exfoliate only when necessary e.g. weekly to counteract the build-up of dead skin cells and better absorption of your moisturiser. Try and personalise your exfoliation routine to your skin needs as everyone is different. If your skin is really dry, don’t exfoliate because your skin barrier is a compromised because of the dryness and cold air. But if you’re trying to remove the flaky skin to put on make-up, just be gentle so you don’t cause more irritation and damage to the affected areas.
Finally, follow your night time routine with a hydrating mask that will heal and protect the epidermis with moisture and help to soothe any stinging or itchiness.
Avoid Hot Showers and Baths
Everyone loves a hot shower when it is cold and miserable and you want to defrost! But in the winter months, you can cause cracks on the surface of your skin if you don’t moisturise as the hot water also dehydrates your skin. The cracks in the skin get exposed to air and that’s how you can get the dry skin bumps that seem to only come out during winter!
Moisture in the air
The air in winter is very dry and cold and the best way to ‘moisturise’ air is to use a humidifier. If you use a heater, put some cold water in the corner of each room to create a humidifier effect.
If you do like to use heaters at home, try drinking an extra glass of water or two to help hydrate your skin and use a humidifier to counteract the blasting of the heat you might do to keep warm!