Ah, winter. Nothing says January like seasonal skin changes!
Do you find that your skin flares up in the winter months? Does your skin feel red or sore? Our skin is prone to irritation as the seasons change, particularly due to changes in temperature - our skin can struggle to keep up! It is important to be aware of our environmental factors (or ‘episome’) when attending to our skin, as exposure to wind, rain and harsh temperatures can certainly cause havoc on the skin. Whilst there is nothing we can do about the weather, we can certainly put steps in place to better take care of our skin health.
Pamela Marshall, expert aesthetician and founder of Mortar & Milk in Fulham, London gives her best skincare advice for the winter ahead.
Why does our skin get so affected during the winter?
As we hunker down and spend more time at home, radiators and air conditioning reduce humidity in the air, thereby pulling moisture from our skin. Dehydrated skin can not only be more vascular, it can also have a higher propensity for acne breakouts. When the skin is dehydrated, messages are sent to our sebaceous glands to produce more oil for protection. Too much oil in our pilo-sebaceous unit (the bottom part of our pore) will cause it to panic and the inside lining will swell to a close, trapping everything inside and leading to an acne spot. In terms of vascularity, constantly moving from outside cold air to indoors hot air can send our capillary network into a frenzy. Too much expansion and contraction will cause them to give up and hold open causing that constant flushed look.
Pamela’s best tips for protecting your skin
Besides wearing an SPF 30 or higher every single day, it's important to keep the skin well hydrated. Internally it means upping your water intake as well as your essential fatty acids. The body needs both water and lipid hydration. If you're feeling really dehydrated, try adding in some omega supplements during the winter. Topically, I would make sure you're using a gentle milky cleanser (obviously remove with a flannel) and then your serums and moisturisers should be formulated with PHA's and cermides. Exuviance, Cerave' and The Inkey List are brilliant brands for keeping our lipid barrier healthy and hydrated.
Pamela’s hero products
Outside of Clinisoothe, my single favourite product is Exuviance Skinrise Bionic Tonic pads. This PHA serum on a pad combines gluconolactone and lactobionic acid (both PHA's) with small doses of citric acid and retinyl palmitate. Its whole function is to hydrate intensely, while reducing inflammation. The extra added benefit is that PHA's also exfoliate in a very gentle and sustainable way. I've never used anything like it before and I recommend it to all of my clients. Because it is so effective, you'll want to cut those pads in half. It makes them last longer, but also you'll be so annoyed at throwing so much serum out if you don't.
Some extra reminders
- Moisturise - Moisturising may seem like an obvious tip, but don’t forget to do this right away once out of shower/ bath and reapply regularly throughout the day. Keep your favourite cream in the bathroom as a reminder to apply, and keep a mini in your bag for on the go! Try and remember to do so at least twice a day.
- Stick to drinking water - Remember to drink 8 glasses of water a day, not including caffeinated or alcoholic beverages. No matter how tempting it is to fuel yourself on hot drinks during the colder months, don’t forget to reach for water in order to keep your body well looked after. Like any other organ in the body, your skin requires a significant amount of water to function at its best and this is often reflected in your skin’s appearance.
- Check the ingredients! - Look out for hypoallergenic products, the last thing you want to do is to add further irritants to the mix. Something with minimal ingredients and no added extras (such as colours or fragrances) is ideal.
- Try some natural remedies - There are plenty of effective products that you might just have at home, why not give aloe vera and cucumber a try? Both have soothing qualities which can help cool the skin without leaving any residue. Aloe vera is especially high in vitamins and minerals, and can directly reduce scaling, redness, and irritation.
- Simplify your regime - If your skin feels sensitive, the last thing you want to do is pile on lots of different products. Stick to cleansing and moisturising, and add one new product at a time. This way you can understand how your skin is actually reacting and which products are doing some good.