How to Prevent and Treat Dry Skin: 5 Tips for Winter Skincare
Winter is skin riot season. Not matter your skin type, the mix of wind, dry frosty air, heaters and lack of vitamin D can make your skin do something whacky. (I’ve recently broken out in small red pimples over my face and neck, while my partner has mild seborrheic dermatitis ‒ it’s all happening at our place.)
You might have read that list and thought heaters? What’s so bad about heaters? Heaters trick you, kind of like a rose with huge thorns. Heaters seem all beautiful and lovely (like a rose) because they keep you nice and warm, but they secretly hurt you by severely drying your skin out (thorns). Basically the general rule is: the drier the air, the drier your skin.
So what do you do to prevent and treat dry skin this winter? I’m so glad you asked.
1. Buff your skin GENTLY
It’s super important to gently buff your skin during winter. You need to remove all those dry dead skin cells so your skincare products can be absorbed, and actually do their job. But I can’t stress enough that you need to do it gently. (GENTLY, GENTLY, GENTLY!)
What does gently mean? Don’t use harsh or aggressive exfoliants that strip or irritate your skin. Opt for something gentle containing a mild glycolic or lactic acid.
If your skin is incredibly dry, exfoliating products might be making it worse. If that’s the case, use a wash cloth with warm water to ‒ gently ‒ buff the dry skin.
If your lips are also really dry, buff them with a soft toothbrush. That will help remove the dry skin.
2. Hydration, hydration, hydration!
Your skin might have a winter alter ego, that prefers tequila and long walks on the beach. If your skin does take on a whole new personality in winter, you might need to change up your routine. The most important element in the products you use during winter is hydration. Opt for a heavy hydrating face cream. Use a hydrating face oil. Try a hydrating serum. Swap out your exfoliating or clay maskfor a hydrating one. (Clay and charcoal masks are often exfoliating or cleansing, while in winter your skin needs hydration – have I said hydration enough yet do you think?)
I’d recommend adding additional hydration and moisturiser to your all your beauty routines. If you don’t already, put a serum or oil on under your makeup. Make sure you moisturise every morning and night.
It also might be worth cutting out your morning face wash / cleanse, and just moisturising instead. Why? Your skin repairs itself while you sleep. When you wake up of a morning, your face is covered in natural oils that your skin has worked hard to create overnight. Natural oils = good, particularly for hydration. If you wash your face properly before you go to sleep, you don’t need to wash your face in the morning unless you’ve exercised, done something that dirties your skin or if you have acne as a result of your skin producing too much natural oil.
3. Eat natural fats and drink water
Our diet has a big impact on our skin. Increasing your daily intake of natural fats, particularly during winter, can help prevent your skin from drying out. Eating a well balanced diet it one of the best things you can do for your body, including your skin. It’s all too easy in winter to crave hearty meals that will warm you up, but if you feel your skin getting out of whack (like mine has been) reviewing your diet is a great place to start.
What to drink and eat:
Nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios)
Lots of water!
A note about water: While drinking water doesn’t directly hydrate your skin, being dehydrated and not drinking enough water does have a negative impact on your skin. All our organs (and our skin is an organ) are made up of cells, and cells are made up of water. We need to replenish the water in those cells every day. Water clears toxins from the body, hydrates, and helps with digestion. (There’s a reason why we can survive without food for much longer than we can survive without water!) So aim to drink 2-3L per day. Your skin will thank you for it.
What to avoid:
Alcohol (if you’ve ever done a dry July, you’ll know how amazing your skin is when you avoid alcohol)
Too much caffeine
Too much coffee
4. Turn down the heat
While hot showers feel divine, the hot water can actually contribute to dehydrating your skin. Hot water strips the natural oils from your skin (and we need those bad boys!). Opt for a lukewarm shower, or shorten your hot showers. If you can’t live without the heat, make sure you adequately replenish the moisture afterwards. (Heavy moisturiser or body oil.)
5. Be wary of your body wash
Your entire body, not just your face, needs additional hydration and moisture during winter. (Unless you like the snake-shedding-a-layer-of-skin look, then by all means don’t do anything ‒ you do you!)
For the rest of us, I strongly recommend a super basic and gently body wash or cleanser. I’d go for something super basic like QV or cetaphil. They’re made for sensitive and often dry skin. Remember to moisturise after your shower, particularly if you’ve had a hot shower (as mentioned above). It’s also worth *gently* exfoliating your entire body once a week, and applying a body oil after you do. Oil is ideal during winter as it penetrates deeply into your skin, and traps moisture, while creating a protective barrier to keep toxins out. (Yes, oil is very much like a skincare superhero.)
A final note: If you’ve been looking after your skin, but it’s still aggravated and become red and itchy, visit a dermatologist. Eczema, seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis can flare during winter and the best thing you can do is have them treated professionally.