Changing temperatures should mean a change of routine, no matter which part of the world you live in. Knowing a little about how skin functions in the winter and tweaking a few personal habits can make all the difference between a dull winter complexion and a glowing radiance.
*1. For dry skin, start the day with a hot shower…*
but before you get out, switch to cold water for about fifteen seconds. Then turn up the heat a little and down again and repeat this process for about two minutes. Why? This is a simple hydrotherapy technique which revitalises the skin by stimulating the flow of blood through the body. It is both invigorating and highly beneficial, so even though you may not really enjoy the process, just think of all the good it is doing you. Also, a lukewarm bath with oatmeal or baking soda can help relieve skin that has become so dry that it is itchy. Try these techniques in conjunction with periodically reapplying moisturiser. If they don’t work, go and see a dermatologist. You may need a prescription lotion to combat your dry skin.
*2. Hook up the humidifier…*
Central heating systems (as well as space heaters) blast hot and dry air throughout our homes and offices. Humidifiers trap more moisture in the air, which helps prevent your skin from drying out. Place several small humidifiers throughout your home or work environment – they help disperse moisture more evenly.
*3. Switch to an oil-based moisturiser and moisturise frequently…*
The more oil a moisturiser contains, the more effectively it protects against moisture loss. Moisturisers that come in ointment form contain the most oil, because an ointment, by definition, consists of 80% oil and 20% water. This water-in-oil emulsion forms a protective layer on the skin and makes it more moisturising than creams and lotions. Ointments are especially beneficial when humidity is low and should not be used on areas of the body that tend to get hot and sweaty.
*4. Exfoliate at least twice a week…*
This will remove dead cells and allow the skin to absorb extra moisture. The skin’s natural oil, which we all complain about in the summer, is no longer being produced because of cooler winter temperatures and (in cooler climes at least) exposure to central heating. In these conditions, the skin loses the water which should be retained in its lower dermis. This can lead to premature ageing of the skin and fine lines, also making it take on an unattractive puffiness and a grey pallor – nice!
*5. Pace the peels…*
If your facial skin is uncomfortably dry, avoid using harsh peels, masks, and alcohol-based toners or astringents; all of which can strip vital oil from your skin. Instead, find a cleansing milk or mild-foaming cleanser, a toner with no alcohol and masks that are ‘deeply hydrating,’ rather than clay-based, which tends to draw moisture out of the face. Also, you should use them infrequently.
*6. Before going outside in winter…*
Apply a heavy layer of moisturising broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to the face, hands and any other skin that may be exposed. This will act as a barrier to help protect against the harsh elements and is especially important if you are going to be outside for any length of time. Sunscreen is important in winter, as the sun’s reflective powers are great all year round, reflecting 17% of its rays from sand and 80% from snow. Today, several products are available that combine oily, moisturising cream with sunscreen. If you are unsure of which product to use, ask a dermatologist.
*7. Grease up your feet…*
Yes, those minty foot lotions are lovely in the hot summer months, but during the winter, your feet need stronger stuff. Try finding lotions that contain urea or glycerine instead. Also, use exfoliants periodically to remove dead skin – this helps any moisturisers that you use to sink in faster and deeper.
*8. Hydrate for your health, not for your skin…*
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times – drinking water helps your skin stay young looking. In fact, this is a myth. Water is good for your overall health and the skin of someone who is severely dehydrated will certainly benefit from fluids. But the average person’s skin does not reflect the amount of water being drunk.
*9. Give your hands a hand…*
The skin on your hands is thinner than on most other parts of the body and has fewer oil glands. That means it’s harder to keep your hands moist, especially in cold, dry weather. This can lead to itchiness and cracking.
*10. Last but not least – seek a specialist…*
If you go to your local drugstore or pharmacy, you’ll be hard put to find a salesperson who can give you good advice. That’s why going to an aesthetician or dermatologist even once is a good investment. Such a specialist can analyse your skin type, troubleshoot your current skin care regimen and give you advice on the skin care products you should be using. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck buying high-end products. Inexpensive products work just as well as those at the top end of the skin care market. In fact, the extra price you pay for the expensive stuff is often just for packaging and marketing. What’s most important is how your skin responds to the product and how you like its feel, not how much money you paid for it.