During the winter months, our skin can really suffer. As the air becomes cooler, it dries out, draining the moisture from our skin. Itchy, red and flakey skin can be uncomfortable and embarrassing, but fortunately, there are many ways to protect your skin and keep it hydrated and smooth throughout the winter months and into spring.
1. Avoid hot showers
When it’s cold outside it can be tempting to jump into a hot shower at the end of the day and spend a little extra time in there. However, hot water can do more damage than good to your skin. The warm water strips natural oils from your skin, causing it to dry out. It’s best to limit showers to 5-10 minutes and use lukewarm water only.
When you hop out of the shower, it’s best to avoid rubbing your skin with a towel, instead, pat yourself dry gently. If you take baths, try adding a few drops of essential oils to the water to help moisturise your skin.
2. Moisturise your skin
Moisturise your skin as soon as you finish your shower. Applying moisturiser to damp skin can help to seal that moisture into the skin, so keep a bottle near the shower or bath. It’s also important to moisturise your skin overnight, focusing on hands, feet, elbows and knees as these are the areas where the skin is thin and loses moisture the fastest. Don’t forget to focus on the face too, as this is the area of our body that’s most exposed to the cold air throughout the day. You may consider getting a facial to keep your skin feeling fresh and new.
But, how do you know which skin care products you should be using? Some over-the-counter and supermarket moisturisers can actually dry out your skin further if they contain alcohol or petroleum-based ingredients, so it’s important to check the labels of the products you use. Look for moisturisers that are oil-based and contain ingredients like vitamin E. Even oily skin needs to be moisturised well throughout winter, so choose products that are specifically for this skin type.
Moisture can’t get into your skin if there’s too much dead skin, so remove this dead skin by exfoliation. This can be done using exfoliating body washes, shower tools and masks. Exfoliating your skin around two or three times a week should be your aim.
4. Invest in a humidifier
Heating systems dry out the air further, so you might want to think about using a humidifier to heat your home, particularly in the bedrooms. Humidifiers put moisture back into the room and will help boost the benefits of the overnight moisturisers you’ve applied. Alternatively, you can keep a bowl of water on your radiators to add moisture to the air.
4. Keep hydrated
Many of us drink less water during winter as the cold weather means we’re less thirsty than we are in summer, and we tend to choose to drink hot drinks like coffee, tea and hot chocolate to keep us warm. But skin needs to be hydrated from the inside too so make sure you continue to drink water throughout winter.
If you prefer hot drinks, try adding some lemon to a mug of warm water. You can also get hydration from foods that are high in water content. Watermelon, apples, celery, cucumbers and tomatoes are all great options or consider adding more liquid to your diet through eating soups. Fatty fish or omega-3 supplements can also help give you smooth skin.
5. Choosing the right cleanser
Using face wipes to remove makeup can strip the skin of its natural oils, so opt for cleansers like micellar water-based products to clean out pores and remove dirt and makeup. Again, check the ingredients of the cleansers you’re using. Stay away from soapy and foaming cleansers that cause dryness, and instead choose more creamy and milky cleaners. You should also avoid leaving the skin for more than 30 seconds after cleansing as this can dehydrate it. Apply a moisturiser as soon as possible to seal in moisture.
6. Avoid stress
Beyond the weather, there are other things that can contribute to dry skin. Stress is an aggravator for common skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. So during winter when your skin is particularly susceptible to dryness, consider practising relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation. If you’re feeling particularly stressed why not book a massage or spa day? Your skin will thank you.