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When the leaves turn golden and flaming red, we all make changes to our wardrobe, putting the tank tops and shorts to the back and arranging thick jumpers within easy reach. We turn on the central heating because “winter is coming”.

Photo by Jeremy Thomas

In the same way, as we rotate our wardrobe to adjust for the new season, we should also make some changes in the bathroom lineup. The cold season can cause a lot of problems for even the most robust or best-cared-for skin.

When the temperatures drop, the air can hold less humidity, which is water vapour. Cold dry air, coupled with wind stresses our skin twofold:

It constricts blood vessels that are vital to nourishing our skin leading to less moisture on the skin surface.
It strips the natural oils on the skin resulting in a damaged skin barrier.

Especially this year, we’re all cooped up indoors and when we go outdoors, we’re hit with cold, dry, windy weather. Basically, we’re spending the winter months in an extremely drying environment.

Transitioning between dry and warm indoors to dry and cold outdoors wrecks more havoc on the skin, and it’s no surprise our skin is vulnerable to dehydration (read: fine lines) and sensitivity (read: itchiness and redness).

If you find your skin is acting up, becoming dry, itchy, flaky, it feels tight or sensitive, consider changing your skincare regimen during the colder months.

3 Winter Skincare Golden Rules

  1. Hydrate
  2. Layer
  3. Include skincare products with ingredients that are more nourishing

The basic of winter skincare is keeping your skin hydrated. Hydration is the most important aspect in winter for maintaining a plump, firm, and glowing skin.

Even more important in winter is to layer your skincare. Layering forms multiple barriers to avoid water evaporating from your skin. Apply different layers of products, starting from runny, watery products, and finishing with heavy (and heavy-duty) moisturises.

Swap out your regular light lotions or moisturisers to a nourishing and more protecting cream. Look for products that contain ceramides that help you protect your skin barrier. Other ingredients that help alleviate dry skin are lactic acid, urea, glycerin, betaine, lanolin among others.

Add Oils Into Your Routine

If your skincare routine doesn’t yet include a layer of oil, now is the time to start. You can select an oil suitable for your skin type. The right oil can provide hydration, nourishment, active ingredients, and layered with your other skincare products and before your cream-based moisturiser, helps fight further the winter dryness.

Adjust your shower

Even if the cold seasons seem so perfect to take long hot showers and baths, these aggravate dry skin. Hot water can leach out out the water-soluble, natural moisturising elements out of the skin. In short, strip the skin of its natural oils and other moisturising factors, thus contributing to dryness and itchiness. Best are short showers of 10 minutes or less in lukewarm water. Lukewarm water is also best for washing your hands or your face.

Waiting too long to apply your skincare

Don’t wait too long after you wash your hands or your face, take a shower or a bath, to moisturise or slather on your hand cream. Moisturisers are most effective when your skin is still slightly humid from washing. They then create a barrier to trap the water in your skin. Be sure to apply your hand cream, body milk, or moisturiser within a few minutes.

Avoid Products Containing Alcohol

As a rule of thumb, alcohol is drying. Products with alcohol like toners and cleansers can be too stripping during the winter. If you read SD alcohol, denatured alcohol, or isopropyl alcohol in the ingredient list, these should be avoided in general since they are the drying types of alcohol. If the ingredients list shows cetyl, stearyl, and cetearyl alcohol, you can safely use them as these are the fatty alcohols.

Along the same vein, avoid products that are heavily scented. Fragrance ingredients can be drying and irritating.

Switch Your Moisturiser Ahead Of Time

If you’re early, or the temperature is still unseasonably warm, research, try out, and switch to a heavy-duty cream-based moisturiser in preparation for winter.

The aforementioned tips also apply to your body, especially the parts that are exposed to the elements.

Up the humidity

In the warmer months, we don’t really care for the humidity, but in winter, it’s a life-saver (or in this context skin-saver). Put a humidifier on your desk or near where you spend a lot of time during your working day. Also, keep a hydrating mist with you.

Don’t forget that when you treat your body well with healthy habits, it can be seen on your skin. Just because the choice of fresh fruits, berries, and vegetables may be smaller, doesn’t mean you can skip them, if you want to have a healthy and thriving skin. For example, winter is the season for oranges providing you with vitamin C (a key ingredient for collagen generation).

What are your tips on how to prepare your skin for winter? Leave it in the comments.

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