Our skin can feel really out of sorts during winter. Like it's just waiting for summer, when it can feel plump, hydrated and glowy again. Rest assured, this feeling is really common, and that’s because cold weather can leave our skin (and lips) dry, chapped, flaky, itchy and just generally crying out for help.
What happens to our skin in winter?
Did you know that with every degree the temperature drops, our skin produces 10% less oil? Almost all skin types are drier in winter, as less humidity in the air causes the skin to lose moisture more easily. Bracing winds and dehydrating central heating make this even worse, and skin can become very dry, tight and flaky in patches – particularly if already prone to sensitivity.
How this shows up on our faces:
The most common and irritating of winter skin complaints is constant dryness – which can range from a small area of chapped skin to full-on flaking on the face and body. If you’ve got combination skin, you might notice that your cheeks in particular can get a little dry in cold weather.
Most people will also experience some degree of redness during winter – ranging from a rosy red nose to a rosacea flare-up. The extreme shift from indoor warmth to outdoor chills is the main culprit.
Finally, you might notice your skin looks much more dull in winter. We tend to pay more attention to exfoliation and proper cleansing during summer when we’re more conscious about what we put on our skin and sloughing off layers of SPF. Leaving the dead skin cells to build up causes the skin to look dull, and also stops your skincare from getting to work on the healthy new cells underneath. More on how to combat this vicious cycle later.
How this shows up on our bodies:
If you’re experiencing itching and discomfort on your legs and arms in particular right now, you’re definitely not alone. As well as the usual culprits – the change in temperature, rampant central heating and layers of clothing – there is something else that might be triggering this.
Hands up who craves a long hot soak in the bath on winter evenings? Us too. Sadly, for most of us, our skin doesn’t love it quite as much as we do. Bathing in overly hot water causes the lipids in the skin to break down. Lipids are the essential fats responsible for helping the skin retain moisture, so without them, skin becomes dry, itchy and irritable.
Our advice? Switch to warm – not hot – baths or have shorter showers instead.
How this shows up on our lips:
As the skin on our lips is thinner and more delicate than that on the rest of the face, it dries out more quickly and is more prone to flaking or “chapping”. There are two ways to combat this – firstly to hydrate the lips with a natural butter to relieve existing dryness, and secondly to protect the lips with a wax to prevent further chapping.
How this shows up on our hands:
Our hands are the most exposed and hard-working parts of our bodies, so it’s no surprise that they suffer during winter months. As they come into contact with the most irritants and triggers, they are also the part of the body most prone to skin complaints – and conditions such as eczema and psoriasis can be particularly aggressive at this time of year.
How to care for your skin in winter
Luckily, caring for your skin and easing – if not avoid totally – these common complaints is possible. Follow these simple and extremely effective pointers for happy, healthy and content skin in a cold snap.
Strengthen your defences
Reinforcing your skin’s barrier won’t just keep irritants out, it will also hold moisture inside to avoid skin becoming dehydrated and uncomfortable. As our skin’s natural barrier is mostly made up of sebum (oil), this is where face and body oils really come into their own.
We generally suggest combining a nourishing face oil like our Rosehip Bioregenerate with your normal day cream to buffer the concentration of the oil or to give your day cream added nourishment. However, the oil can also be applied over the top of your moisturiser to lock in moisture.
Lip (and hands) service
With their gently scrubby texture, our organic muslin cloths are ideal for lifting away dry skin. Give your lips a little extra attention during your cleanse and gently buff in a circular motion. For very sensitive or sore lips, try gently exfoliating with a pea-sized amount of Virtuous Circle. Massage across the lips (we recommend avoiding getting any in your mouth!) then rinse away with warm water or gently wipe away with the soft terry side of our Twin Flyer cloths.
Once you’ve removed all the dead skin cells, it’s time to moisturise and protect the healthy new cells. Heavy Mettle is our rich Fragonia and Sea Buckthorn-enriched hand cream to settle and soothe dry skin.
Get your glow back
If you’re noticing flaky patches or dullness, you’re not alone. Regular exfoliation will gently slough away these cells, impurities and dirt, revealing the bright, healthy skin beneath.
Using an exfoliator can seem daunting, but don’t worry, not all exfoliators are created equal. Our omega- and vitamin-rich Virtuous Circle exfoliator contains perfectly round jojoba beads which buff the skin without tearing or irritating it.
Not only will this lead to brighter skin, but it will also be more comfortable, absorb your products better, and look much smoother under make-up.
Just add oil
Add a facial oil to your winter skin routine to lock in hydration – while working on your targeted concern too. Choose omega-rich Rosehip Oil to help repair and regenerate while restoring balance and confidence to unpredictable and sensitive skin. The natural antioxidant beta-carotene can also ease the damaging and drying effects of winter.
Or for mature and very dry skin, Viper’s Gloss face oil feeds the skin the nutrients that naturally deplete as we age. Stressed-out skin prone to irritation will love our fast-absorbing dry oil The Light Fantastic which brings instant relief and helps to strengthen the skin for long-term resilience against future flare-ups.
Blemish-prone skin can use a facial oil too – Carbon Star fights acne-causing bacteria, clears imperfections and helps keep sebum production under control.
Hydration is the key to soft, soothed and smooth skin. Remember hydration can only be achieved with a cream, so massage Polly Plum into the skin after every (not too hot) shower. Its powerful anti-inflammatory properties help heal and relieve sensitive skin. They also make this the perfect lotion for post-shaven (or unshaven) legs!
We also recommend you try body brushing. By stimulating blood flow and regeneration, dry skin brushing helps keep your healthiest, brightest and freshest skin cells at the surface. Move in circular motions, towards the heart for best effect. Avoid tough or scratchy bristles if your skin is particularly sensitive.
Call in the big guns with a treatment mask
As important as a daily routine is, sometimes our skin needs more. That’s where weekly, highly intensive face masks come in. Resurrection Girl is an ultra-hydrating mask that pours moisture back into dry, lifeless skin. Powered by Resurrection Plant, our rich gel mask revives dry, dull skin in just ten minutes.
As we mentioned above, skin types are drier in winter as less humidity in the air causes the skin to lose moisture more easily. Harsh winds and central heating make this even worse, resulting in dry, flaky skin and static hair!
Alongside your skincare, consider investing in a humidifier (or place a heat-proof cup of water near your radiator) to put some moisture back into the environment and prevent your skin from drying out.
Omegas – inside and out
Omega 3 is one of the best nutrients for keeping skin healthy, particularly during winter, helping to support cell membrane repair and reduce inflammation. Ensure you’re getting enough fatty acids from your diet, in the form of 2-3 portions of oily fish or hemp per week, or consider taking an Omega supplement during winter.
It works topically too! Our Rosehip Bioregenerate oil is rich in Omegas 3, 6, 7 and 9 to fuel the skin’s natural functions and smooth its surface.
Warm weather in summer means we consciously drink lots of water, but in winter keeping hydrated can often slip our minds.
If you’re struggling to keep up, try eating water-rich foods such as soups and stews, or cutting out caffeine and replacing your coffee with herbal teas and hot lemon water. As well as keeping skin supple, they’ll also help flush out toxins for a clear, healthy and vibrant complexion.
Upping your intake of Vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables will also help boost your collagen production and plump up your complexion, as well as protecting you from the winter colds doing the rounds at this time of year!
If you need more advice about your winter skincare routine, why not get in touch with our skin coaches and book a free online skin consultation - they’ll be happy to help.