In winter our skin is subjected to harsh conditions, from freezing temperatures to bracing winds and dry air. We wrap up warm, treat ourselves to hot chocolate and long baths, but the dry and cold air definitely takes its toll on our skin.
Cold air holds less moisture than warm air. Winter air is dry and is enough to leave your skin dehydrated and prone to cracking. The slightest wind will leave your skin, and your body, crying out for hydration. While drinking too much water can be harmful as it flushes away much needed salts from your body (1) be sure to drink water regularly to keep up your hydration levels - for your body overall, and for your skin.
Keep a water bottle near you at all times during the day, and drink regularly. Being well hydrated can also help reduce the appearance of wrinkles by increasing blood flow (2).
Upgrade your Soap
Your skin barrier needs natural oils to help avoid evaporation - a natural oil barrier. If you remove too many skin oils with a harsh cleansing routine, you can leave your skin unprotected, and the water content in your skin can easily evaporate. Harsh cleansers, especially ones containing ingredients such as SLS and SLES, which is the main ingredient in most drugstore shower gels and facial cleansers, can leave skin feeling squeaky clean, but unprotected. Your skin will easily dry out.
Natural soap contains humectants - lots of glycerine - which enters your skin and holds water there. The natural soap cleans away dirt, but also has extra plant oils, which replenishes your skin’s natural oils. After cleansing your body or your face, your skin barrier will be strengthened and protected against drying out. Natural soap, like our Shea Butter Natural Soap, is the most moisturising cleansing product, and perfect to combat dry skin, especially in winter.
Dry skin looks dull and can even start to crack in cold and dry conditions. It can also be prone to breakouts, and can trigger or worsen acne (3). While your natural soap moisturises your skin with humectants and oils, you can boost this effect when you need it most, during winter, by using a moisturiser. If you already moisturise during the summer, you may want to switch to a heavier cream in winter. A cream containing humectants will hold water inside your skin, while a heavier occlusive layer will prevent evaporation, and will help keep your skin barrier strong. Use a facial mask once a week for an extra hydration boost.
Don’t forget Sunscreen
While ultraviolet (UV) rays are stronger in summer and less in winter, sunburn and skin-ageing effects from the sun are still a risk in winter. Even with light cloud cover, the majority of UV rays will pass through (4). UVA, which is associated with skin ageing, makes up 95% of the UV rays, and penetrates through clouds and windows (5). UVB, which is associated with skin burning, is more filtered out by clouds and cannot penetrate windows, but is also present on sunny and cloudy days outdoors. Be especially careful at high altitudes and if there is snow. At high altitudes less UV rays are filtered out by the atmosphere, and the snow will reflect the UV back to you - which can give skiers a typical ski-mask tan.
Wear a sunscreen of at least SPF 30, and reapply your sunscreen every few hours. Ensure that your sunscreen is broad-spectrum, which will protect against UVA and UVB.
If you are using an especially thick and occlusive moisturiser to protect your skin, it could also be trapping dead skin cells in your pores. Avoid clogging your pores by exfoliating regularly. Removing a layer of dead skin cells will also help the humectants in your moisturiser to absorb into your skin.
Ensure that you are exfoliating gently. Physical exfoliators use textured particles to physically scrub off dead skin cells, but can easily scratch the healthy skin cells, damaging the skin barrier. Exfoliators containing large particles such as crushed nut shells, sugar, or plastic beads are far too big, and will leave small wounds in your skin. If you want to use a physical exfoliator look for something containing very small particles, like our Cedar and Activated Charcoal Natural Soap. The activated charcoal particles are not at a concentration that they will clump together and scratch your skin.
Chemical exfoliators don’t risk scratching your skin barrier, and are generally seen as more gentle than physical exfoliators. However, be careful of harsh chemicals, especially on sensitive and reactive skin. It is advisable to do a skin test on a small patch of skin and wait for about a week to see how your skin reacts. Use chemical exfoliators exactly as recommended - a little too much can easily become too aggravating for your skin, and cause an adverse reaction.
Watch your Diet
What you put in your body has a big impact on how your skin looks and feels. In winter it is especially important to have the right diet in order to support your skin as much as possible in the harsh conditions. Make sure that you have the right balance of protein, carbohydrates and good fats each day.
Essential fatty acids, especially omega-3 and omega-6, are especially necessary to support the skin barrier. The oils help create strong cell membranes, as well as supporting the oil content in your skin barrier. For more Omega-3 and Omega-6 in your diet eat fish, nuts, poultry, and grains (6).
Eating foods rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants will also help fight free radical damage, which can be caused by the cold, as well as stimulate collagen production, which your skin needs to stay plump. For more Vitamin C and antioxidants in your diet eat citrus fruits, bell peppers, and leafy greens (7).