7 Ways To Combat Winter Skin and Dryness
Dry skin in the winter or the “winter itch” can affect all of us. Ranging from the occasional itchiness in bed to outright cracks in the skin, winter skin dryness is about to rear its ugly head for some of us.
Your skin is naturally made up of water, fatty acids and lipids amongst other things. When this top layer is stripped, water in your skin is lost to the environment at a higher rate.
The scientific term is transepidermal water loss (or TEWL), and it’s the amount of water that naturally moves from an area of high density (your skin) to lower density (the environment).
When this happens too fast, it opens the door to all sorts of skin issues, including that feeling of dryness, loss of skin function and ultimately possible infection.
While it might not be pretty and definitely isn’t comfortable, winter skin dryness can be easy to solve with a little extra attention and a few simple steps for healthy, glowing skin year round.
Here are seven ways to stop the itch and fight winter skin dryness!
When fighting winter skin dryness, hot water isn’t your friend.
Hot water can feel glorious after a cold day but it’s the worst for keeping your skin feeling comfortable. Long hot showers more than once a day dry out your skin, causing inflammation and redness. If your skin turns red after a shower, it’s too hot. Sorry to all those who like the feeling of scalding.
Instead, skip the hot showers or baths and stick to warm water less frequently. This is easier on the outer layer of your skin so it’s able to do what it does naturally, and protect you from the elements.
But when fighting winter skin dryness, humidifiers are your friend.
When the temps drop, typically so does the amount of moisture in the air around you. Couple that with forced air and it makes things even worse if you’re fighting dry skin, and TEWL becomes a real issue.
Humidifiers help keep things a little more humid by forcing moisture into the air, which means less water lost from your skin. Even just a bedside humidifier while you sleep has a number of benefits for your skin, including keeping winter skin dryness at bay.
Decreased moisture loss from your skin keeps the natural moisture barrier of the skin working properly. Not only does this help with dryness but also issues like acne, psoriasis and eczema.
Skin knows what to do naturally—we just need to get out of its way sometimes—and making sure there’s enough moisture helps.
Don’t forget to take care of your hands.
We often focus on the face… (we DO make facial serums) but the same principles apply to hands too. Since our hands are so hard working, a little extra TLC can go a long way to keeping winter skin dryness at bay.
This includes being careful when you wash your hands. Avoid hot water for the same reasons above, and don’t use soap that is too harsh or stripping either. This removes the natural oils that keep water in your skin.
Also, when drying your hands after washing, make sure you dry your hands completely… don’t let them air dry. This will make dryness worse because the evaporation of water on your hands will speed up TEWL on your hands.
Take the time to revisit your routine.
On that note, take the time to look at the products in your skin care routine and check for harsh ingredients that could be stripping your skin. This includes soaps, cleansers, toners, serums and moisturizers.
Also, take a quick look at what your products are supposed to do. If you’re suffering from winter skin dryness, take it easy with the physical or chemical exfoliation but don’t stop completely. After all, a little exfoliation helps hydrating toners and oil-based serums do their job and can penetrate the skin easier.
This next bit might be a little counterintuitive but take it easy with the mists as well. Using water-based toners and mists are great for adding hydration back into the skin, but only if you follow up quickly with an oil-based serum or thicker moisturizer. This locks the moisture into the skin.
Letting the toner or mist evaporate off the surface of your skin will make things worse by pulling what little water you have in your skin with it. This is why licking your lips when they’re dry makes it worse. It’s TEWL in action.
For the record, stay away from coconut oil and things like castor oil as well. While these ingredients can be great for removing makeup or lengthening eyelashes and brows, coconut oil can clog pores and castor oil is too astringent on its own for most skin types.
Lastly, because it can’t be said enough… make sure you’re still using sunscreen, even in winter.
Tackle it from the inside out too.
We are what we eat has never been more true than when it comes to skin. And making sure we get enough healthy fats in our diet helps keep our skin functioning properly from the inside out.
Good fats in our diet translates to better functioning skin, which means it’s able to keep water in the skin more effectively. No more TEWL and dry skin.
Winter comes with a whole host of problems all at once for our skin. Sunburn can be just as bad, if not worse, in winter. Couple that with wind burn, dry climates and exposure to the cold, it’s no wonder that winter skin dryness is such an issue.
One of the best and easiest ways to combat this is to cover up when outside. Hats, scarves and gloves are all your friend, especially when outside for a long time.
Make your skin barrier even stronger by using hand cream, a balm or oil before you leave the house. And make sure to add that moisture back in when you come back inside.
Easiest way to do this is to do this is to use a water-based toner followed by your favourite oil-based moisturizer or serum to seal everything in before settling in.
Lastly, are you sure it’s dryness?
Dry skin can be symptom of something else, or what you’re experiencing might not even be dry skin… If that’s the case the tips above might help, but won’t solve it. If all else fails, try seeing a specialist to get a handle on what could be wrong.
There are many reasons to hate winter, but winter skin dryness shouldn’t be one of them. For most of us, a few simple changes in our routine or product line up can make all the difference.
Save those long hot baths for special occasions, take it easy with stripping the skin, and make sure to add both oil and water back into the skin regularly to keep your skin glowing, healthy and happy all year round.
Is winter skin dryness an issue for you? What are your favourite tips for making it through the winter?
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