If the weather is leaving your skin dry and sensitive, it’s sadly no surprise. Dr Anita Sturnham, GP and skin care authority, says “the number of skin conditions women suffer from rises significantly during the winter months”. We can blame the temperature fluctuations, plus the drying effect of low humidity and the warmth of central heating, but how can we cure it? It all comes down to hydration – however, there’s more to that than slathering on a rich moisturiser. Read on for Dr Sturnham’s top tips to employ this season.
1. Remember regular exfoliation
Collectively we shed about 10 billion dead skin cells a day, which equates to 23kg over a lifetime. Not just a nauseating notion, it serves as a reminder of the importance exfoliation plays in clearing dead cell build-up. Dr Sturnham explains it’s as good for the appearance of the skin as it is its health: “Gentle exfoliation plays a key role in skin radiance by removing complexion-dulling dead skin cells and allowing new, fresh and healthy skin cells to reach the surface,” she says.
2. Choose your cleansers carefully
To avoid causing further dehydration in winter, Dr Sturnham recommends choosing your cleansers carefully. “Avoid soap-based cleansers and body washes in favour of creamy alternatives,” she says. “Perfumed soaps and anything containing alcohols listed as ‘SD’, ‘denatured’ or ‘isopropyl’ can irritate sensitive skin - ‘fatty alcohols’ however such as Steryl and Cetearyl can be beneficial.” Bazaar recommends Dr Sam's Flawless Cleanser.
3. Moisturise religiously, all year round
You may already be moisturising your face and body, but are you moisturising effectively? “Apply moisturiser as soon as you can after drying off post-cleansing or bathing to help lock in moisture; pat (don’t rub) skin dry and apply moisturiser when still a little damp,” Dr Sturnham advises. She also says to avoid fragranced moisturisers, which can lead to skin irritation, and to look out for ones containing vitamin E and aloe vera to soothe and hydrate. Bazaar recommends Peter Thomas Roth Mega-Rich Intensive Anti-Ageing Creme for face, and La Roche-Posay Lipikar Lait for the body.
4. Choose the right products for your skin type
Of course, treating winter skin requires a slightly bespoke approach, so choose products tailored to your skin type. “An oil-based moisturiser will create a protective layer, offering some respite from the elements that water-based skin care products do not,” Dr Sturnham says. “However, women with oily skin should avoid these as the drier environment of winter can actually exacerbate oil production and, when combined with oil-based products, can lead to breakouts.”
5. Remember that self-tan can be drying
There’s no reason to save your faux glow for the summer, but know that self-tan can be drying, “so take care to exfoliate and moisturise regularly,” says the skin expert. Her top tip is to look for tanning products designed for sensitive skin, helping avoid any unnecessary irritation.
6. Make shaving your friend, not foe
Many of us hide our legs away in 100 deniers throughout winter, which can give those of us who shave a welcome break from the chore. However, shaving the skin could be beneficial for its health. “Shaving doesn’t just remove unwanted hair: it also gently exfoliates skin which removes dead skin cells, allowing moisturisers to penetrate deeper into the skin layers and work more effectively,” explains Dr Sturnham. Choose the wrong razor, though, and you can exacerbate seasonal skin sensitivity. The pro recommends the Venus & Olay razor which has flexible moisture bars that help hydrate the skin as you shave.
7. Eat (and sleep) well for skin health
Don’t underestimate the importance of healthy eating for hydration. “Eat nutritionally healthy, skin-boosting foods packed full of vitamins, minerals and anti-ageing antioxidants,” Dr Sturnham says. “Keeping well hydrated is key: aim to drink at least six to eight glasses of water throughout the day and keep alcohol and caffeine consumption to a minimum”. Don’t forget your beauty sleep, either. “Sleep is a time where every cell in our body renews and repairs,” she explains, so getting a good eight hours will help keep your skin in good condition.