We’ve all lived through enough winters to understand the havoc cold, harsh conditions can wreak on our skin. Here’s our top 10 tips for looking after your skin this winter, including some skin-specific advice, dependent on your skin type.
Tips that all of us can follow:
- When it comes to showers, think ‘warm, not hot’ and ‘short, not long’: For those of us who like nothing more than to shake the winter cold from our bones with a long, hot shower or bath, this is going to come as bad news. They’re no good for you! Sadly, overly hot bathing water can break down the lipids in our skin, leading to a loss of moisture and the kind of dry, cracked skin we all want to avoid.
- Moisturize. And then moisturize some more: We all have a favourite moisturizer that works perfectly well in the spring and summer, but how does it stand up to the demands of winter? If your answer is ‘not so well’, then you might want to look for a slightly richer moisturizer (filled with luscious natural oils, of course!), that not only hydrates more effectively, but creates a moisture layer on the surface of your skin that will provide protection against harsher environmental conditions.
- Invest in a humidifier: If you haven’t already got one - and you either work or live in an environment where you’re kept warm by central heating or a space heater – then humidifiers can be a real investment in your skin. That’s because they help get more moisture in the air, countering the blast of hot dry air we get from our heating systems and helping to prevent our skin from coming under stress and drying out.
- When it comes to soap and other cleansers, gentle and natural is best: Most commercial soaps and cleansers contain synthetic ingredients and fragrances that can irritate our skin. This is especially true in winter, when our skin is already under duress and needs all the tender, loving (organic) care it can get.
- Healthy fats. Fit skin: It’s important we keep up our intake of healthy fats (the kind you’ll find in salmon, avocados, and nuts and seeds) throughout the winter. They contain omega 3 fatty acids which can help reduce inflammation and prevent collagen breakdown. Avocados (remember the days when we were told they were bad for us?) contain the added benefits of vitamins A and E, which can help promote smoother, healthier looking skin.
- Eat the rainbow: We all know how good fruit and vegetables are for our general health, but they can also help support the health of our skin during the winter. And that’s especially true if we eat them regularly, in a whole rainbow of colours. Orange vegetables, for example, contain carotenoids that help protect our skin from UV rays, whilst green vegetables are full of vitamin C, which can help repair collagen and smooth out wrinkles. And don’t forget to add some red and purple berries to the mix, as they’re rich in the kind of antioxidants that can help fight free radicals and slow down the signs of aging.
And some skin specific tips...
- Dry Skin – Look after your hands: The skin on our hands is notoriously thin and has fewer oil glands. That means it’s prone to drying out, and even cracking, in cold weather. To combat this, remember to wear gloves when you go outside and - in this age of sanitizers and longer hand washing times – make sure you keep a hydrating, nurturing natural hand cream nearby.
- Oily Skin – Keep your towels nice and fresh: If you’ve got oily skin, then keeping your towels nice and fresh can help keep breakouts in check. That’s because old towels can hold onto bacteria from previous washes and transfer it back to your face. To avoid this, try to swap out your towel for a new one at least once a week.
- Sensitive Skin – Skip the cleansing acids: If you have sensitive or acne prone skin, then it might be wise during the winter to avoid cleansers, creams, or exfoliants that contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide (a lot of them do - check the ingredients list!). That’s because these ingredients can aggravate dryness, cause inflammation, and – in some cases – exacerbate the very condition they’re meant to fix (like acne breakouts). It’s worth trying out a gentle natural cleanser or exfoliant instead, one with natural oils that help to keep the skin’s pH levels in balance, rather than putting everything out of whack.
- Aging Skin – Exfoliate sparingly: Exfoliation is an important part of our skincare regime, as it helps to encourage cell turnover and smooth out the appearance of our skin. But when our skin is under stress, as it often is during winter, it can help to exfoliate a little more sparingly, using a gentle, natural exfoliant full of natural oils which will help to hydrate and plump the skin, rather than strip it.