Beauty: looking after your skin in winter
Prepare for the chilly season by replacing your everyday lotions with richer, more nourishing skincare products, writes Sheree Mutton.
IT’S NO SECRET that winter can wreak havoc on your skin. Chilly temperatures, biting winds and dry air can leave skin feeling tight, rough, and itchy. “Dry and itchy skin is a common complaint during the winter months,” says Sydney dermatologist Dr Hanna Kuchel. This condition is otherwise known as ‘winter itch’.
Heaters, wind, dry air and long, hot showers all take their toll on the skin.
“The thin layer of oil that traps moisture in the skin is easily lost, causing small cracks to appear in the skin barrier,” she says. “These cracks lead to irritation and flare-ups of itchy conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and severe dry skin.”
There are, however, simple steps you can take to avoid the dreaded dry and flaky skin that can plague many of us during the cooler months.
Switch your moisturiser
“Within our daily regimen, sometimes a more occlusive [water-retaining] moisturiser may be required, along with a hydrating serum, which would be a helpful addition,” says Tracey Beeby, Ultraceuticals skin expert. “Certain skin conditions that could flare up are dermatitis and eczema due to the dry air and harsh temperatures, and having the skin covered with woollen clothing can be another irritant. Keeping the skin well-hydrated with both a hydrating serum and moisturiser is essential. Sometimes an upgrade in your moisturiser is necessary. Internal hydration is also important, so drinking plenty of water and avoiding long hot showers will also assist.”
Dr Kuchel says richer products such as ointments and creams, rather than lotions, are better for winter. “Active ingredients such as urea, lactic acid, and salicylic acid are good for the body and especially lower limbs that are dry,” she says.
Despite the cooler weather, UV rays can still penetrate clouds, so use a broadspectrum SPF sunscreen.
In caring for your skin in winter, it is important to avoid harsh or fragranced soaps that might aggravate the skin, which may be dehydrated already. “Soaps and shampoos may strip the skin of important oils,” says Dr Kuchel. “A gentle, soap-free cleanser should be used.”
Don’t take hot showers or baths
After a long day in the winter chill, nothing could be better than a long, steaming hot shower or bath. Yet hot water is actually an enemy of dry, flaky skin because it strips the skin’s top layer, also known as the epidermis, of moisture. “It is tempting to take long hot showers when it is cold outside,” says Dr Kuchel. “They are a common cause of dry, irritable skin. It is important to remember to keep showers short and lukewarm.”
Following a bath or shower, it’s recommended to pat yourself dry, rather than rub, and apply a moisturiser while the skin is slightly damp. This will minimise further irritation and help the absorption of the moisturiser.
Use a face mask
Using a hydrating mask once or twice a week will help lock in moisture and repair any dry skin. “A nourishing or replenishing mask will help replace essential moisture while restoring and repairing our skin’s barrier, the epidermis,” says Tracey Beeby.
Use a gentle exfoliant to help remove dry and dead skin cells. Remember to moisturise afterwards.
Take care of your lips and hands
The lips tend to get especially dry during the winter. According to Dr Kuchel, this is due to a number of reasons. “[There are] no oil glands in lips, no protective pigment [tan], so they’re more likely to get a sunburn [even in winter] that causes irritation or eczema,” she says, adding that “contact with irritating substances in food and drinks” and “licking makes the problem worse – saliva contains enzymes that irritate the lips further”.
Using a fragrance-free lip balm with SPF will help keep the lips hydrated. Similarly, the hands will often look dry and scaly. To combat this, use a soothing hand cream throughout the day to hydrate and smooth the skin.
For an added boost during winter, opt for creamy make-up formulas which contain hydrating ingredients, instead of drying powder make-up.
1. Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Deep
Moisture Balm, $54. 2. Nivea Raspberry Rose Lip
3. Avène Hydrance Optimale
Hydrating Serum, $60. 4. Palmer’s Shea Formula Moisturizing Body Lotion,
5. Shiseido Bio-Performance
LiftDynamic Serum, $180. 6. Natio Wellness Hand Cream,
SPF 15, $13.50. 7. Clinique Moisture Surge Melting Mask Balm, $89.
1. Dr. Hauschka Hydrating
Mask, $99. 2. Ultraceuticals Ultra B2 Hydrating Serum, $96. 3. ECOYA French Pear Hand
Cream, $30. 4. Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Lip Protectant Stick,
SPF 15 $41. 5. Weleda Skin Food, $14. 6. La Mer Crème de la Mer Moisturizing Cream, $255. 7. L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Cleansing Milk, $18.40. 8. Olive 100% Natural All-Purpose Balm, $25.