We have definitely been feeling those cold mornings, cooler days and some chilly evenings and as much as I love rugging up on the couch and layering fashion during winter, this season’s weather can play havoc on our skin.

Last winter, mainly in Eastern Australia due to La Niña, we saw a rise in skin conditions due to higher rainfall and cooler conditions.

Cold air outside, dry indoor heating inside, low humidity levels and harsh winter winds (I’m looking at you Melbourne) can all zap your skin of moisture, making it feel tight, less radiant and often slightly sensitive. This is why it’s so important to understand products and ingredients you are applying to your skin, as like your wardrobe, products should definitely be altered and adapted to new needs during the cooler months.

The outermost layer of our skin, known as the skin barrier, acts as a shield against external factors. However, exposure to harsh cold air can compromise and modify this barrier, reducing its effectiveness and causing rapid loss of water, leading to skin tightening (in a negative way). This can also allow more pollutants to penetrate the skin, ultimately increasing skin sensitivity.

On the other spectrum you have higher indoor heating use during colder months and air heaters dries the air, which causes moisture loss not only on a surface level, but internally within the body causing imbalances with skin regulation, resulting in higher levels of skin sensitivities. Both situations are hard to balance from outdoor to indoor factors, so a change in product textures and strengths in ingredients is a must to keep skin calm and balanced.

Winter can be beneficial for oily skin as it can tighten pores, leading to less sebum and breakouts. However, dry skin can become even drier, resulting in more visible lines and wrinkles, as there is no moisture to plump the skin, causing it to feel sensitive and show visible redness. The best thing to know is, it is not too late to save your winter skin blues!

We may be already in the winter season, but there are ways to re-balance, protect and calm winter skin conditions.

6 Tips to Protect Skin in Winter

  1. Shower Habits – Of course, we all love a hot shower in winter, but putting your face in direct line with the shower head, means the hot water pressure can tighten and create micro-tears to the skin, meaning major water loss and redness, breaking down the skin barrier which protects your skin.  Consider taking warm instead of hot showers and limiting the amount of time spent in the shower. Avoid placing your face directly under the water jets to minimize skin damage. You can also try splashing your face with water instead.
  2. Cleanser Textures – In winter, skin tends to get drier, and coupled with hot showers, foaming cleansers, although effective for oily skin, can exacerbate dryness. While they may provide a satisfying lather, they can strip the skin of remaining oils, leaving it tight and potentially inflamed. Opt for a cream or very gentle textured cleanser in colder months and if you are a makeup wearer, a double cleanse is needed, so start with an oil cleanser to remover makeup gently without ‘stripping’ skin.
  3. Skin Flooding – Although I am not an active TikTok user, I have heard about the viral trend called ‘Skin Flooding’ circulating on the platform. This trend is particularly suitable for the colder months when our skin requires extra moisture. It involves layering hydration in multiple layers to flood the skin with moisture. While this may not be a new concept, it emphasises the significance of layering skincare. Example – If the outer layer of your skin is already dry and you apply a moisturiser, it will probably not absorb well and most will be wasted. But if you apply a hydrating mist, or an essence so the skin is slightly damp, the moisturiser will be absorbed so much better and work to full capacity. This is the same as a kitchen sponge… If the sponge is bone dry and you try to wipe a spill, it doesn’t absorb, but if the sponge is slightly damp, it absorbs the spill perfectly. It’s the same for hyaluronic acid, we know it works better when applied to slightly damp skin. So, if you add light layers of hydration, finishing with the more dense texture last, you’ll flood the skin with moisture to get best results. Using mists and an essence in between steps of a cleanser, serum, moisturiser is perfect for the colder months of winter.
  4. Barrier Creams – Step three talked about layering hydration to get better and more effective product absorption for each step of skincare. Products absorb faster and easier when the outer layer of the skin is soft and hydrated. But, we also need to lock that hydration in! Even more-so in winter to avoid any hydration loss caused by cold outside air or drying indoor air caused by heating. A good, dense, barrier cream can be great to lock in moisture and all that hydration prep you just did within your skin routine. They are the last step being a thicker texture, also known as an emollient, forming a film of moisture over skin to protect it from water loss and external factors. Adding a face oil into your skin routine can also act similarly to a barrier cream, also usually used last in the routine because of the moisture weight of the product.
  5. Less Actives – Actives are a popular buzzword in skincare, with Retinol, Vitamin C, and AHA’s being some of the most well-known. While they can be beneficial, especially for oily or acne-prone skin, it’s important to be cautious during the winter months. Certain actives, such as acids and retinol, can exacerbate dryness and sensitivity caused by winter weather. It’s not necessary to avoid them altogether, but it’s important to be mindful of how your skin is reacting and adjust your routine accordingly. Try halving the usage of these actives… If you usually use them daily, try three times a week or once a week instead.  Or, simply use lower strengths or natural alternatives. There are so many to choose from, your skin will thank you for it. Focus on more hydration layers than strong actives and your skin will be glowing from within.
  6. Home Environment – Finally, while not a skincare product, a humidifier can be a lifesaver for your skin during the winter months, especially if you use indoor heating, which can dry out the air. By adding moisture back into the air, a humidifier can help keep your skin calm and less prone to redness and sensitivity, particularly if used in your bedroom while you sleep. Oh, and yes, SPF is still just as important in winter! It’s never too late to save your winter skin, so start these tips now.

This article was first published in the Winter issue of Retail Beauty:

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