The problem of dry skin in winter is more common than one would think. As temperatures drop and nights get longer, the low humidity and the cold of winter can cause our skin to dry out and become flaky. This can lead to skin itch, flares in dermatitis and more skin sensitivity.
However, there are ways you can counter the damage caused by the cold weather. These skin tips will ensure that your skin remains healthy no matter what the weather may be. From effective skin care routines to things you need to avoid, we have it all covered in this article.
Moisturise to beat winter dry skin!
Use a moisturiser that is heavy-duty to combat winter skin dryness. You should switch from a lightweight, thin or lotion based moisturiser to one that is thicker and creamier. Consider products that contain niacinamide which helps protect the barier function of the skin. Our favourites are The Skincare Company Vitamin B3 and Propaira Skin Defence. These measures will keep your skin supple for longer and help you fight the dry and cold environment.
There are three types of moisturisers (in terms of their action on the skin): humectants; occlusives; and emollients. Humectants bring water to the skin while occlusives stop water escaping from the skin. Emollients are used to fill in any skin cracks. Good moisturisers have all three components covered.
A humidifier may be of help
We have established that humidity levels are low in winter and that low humidity can contribute to and cause dry skin. A moisturiser's ability to draw water to the skin is maximized only when there is moisture in the air around it. If the air surrounding you is dry, you might want to consider installing a humidifier inside the spaces where you spend the most time, such as your bedroom or office. Once you have done that, a product with humectants will give you hours of relief for your dry winter skin!
Avoid irritating ingredients
It's already difficult for our dry skin to deal with the biting cold. Let's not stress it out more. We don't want to make our dry skin more sensitive by adding irritating ingredients like alcohol, astringents, soaps and fragrances. You should instead consider choosing products that are "gentle", mild, non-irritating, soap-free, or suitable for sensitive dry skin. This will ensure that your skin is treated with the care it needs to protect you from the elements.
Protect your dry skin from abrasive clothes
Dry skin can also be further affected by abrasive fabrics. These may rub against your dry skin, causing friction that could cause skin irritation. A layer of lightweight, comfortable clothing, preferably made from cotton, should be worn that is directly on your skin. You can then layer on any number of layers of heavy-duty winter clothes you require to stay warm.
Similar principles apply to mittens. A lining of silk gloves underneath wooly mittens helps to prevent dry hands and further irritation.
Protect your skin from the UV rays of snow-reflected sunlight
While we are at it, it's important to protect your skin from the UV rays of the snow. It may seem that on an overcast winter day, sunscreen is not required, however, the snow is certainly a reason for concern. The sun's rays can be reflected off of fresh snow, which can double your UV exposure. Your skin is mostly protected by winter clothing, but your eyes need extra care.
Photokeratitis (also known as snow-blindness) is basically sunburned eyes. It's as painful as it sounds. You can avoid this by wearing UV-protective sunglasses or goggles.
Keep the heat at a moderate level.
One would think that if the cold makes our skin dry and itchy, then turning up heat will make things better. But that's not the truth. It is more harmful than good to try and compensate for the low temperatures by turning it up. This just dries out the air of any humidity and dehydrates the skin further. Consider keeping your heater at 20-22 degrees Celsius at max. And although a hot, long bath might sound indulgent, your skin would prefer a quick, warm shower. Trust us on that!
Last words on dry winter skin
Dermatologists see a rise in patients having problems with several skin diseases in the winter season. Dry skin of the hands, eczema and psoriasis are common presentations. One needs to be liberal with the use of moisturisers and avoid the things that make our skin more dry during winter conditions. Avoid irritants getting to your skin and moisturise, moisturise, moisturise.