- Jan 12, 2024
How to look after your skin in Winter: A Doctor’s guide to navigating the Cold Weather
AUTHOR - DR. DAVID JACK
What are the effects of winter on skin?
When winter arrives, it brings a unique set of challenges for our skin. The combination of low humidity, biting cold winds, and central heating can wreak havoc on our complexion. This season is notorious for causing dry, irritated, and sensitive skin, making a robust winter skincare routine essential. Understanding how the cold weather impacts your skin is the first step in crafting an effective winter skin care strategy:
- Reduced Humidity and Skin Moisture Content: Studies show that low humidity levels during winter significantly reduce the skin's moisture content. This is because dry air draws moisture away from the skin. The stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the skin, is particularly susceptible to the ambient humidity. When humidity drops, as it often does in winter, the stratum corneum loses water content, leading to dryness.
- Cold Temperatures and Skin Barrier Function: Cold temperatures are known to negatively affect the skin's barrier function. This can lead to increased transepidermal water loss (TEWL), where moisture passes from inside the body through the epidermis and evaporates into the air. The lipid matrix in the skin, which plays a crucial role in barrier function and water retention, can become less effective in cold conditions. This results in a compromised barrier, making the skin more prone to dryness and irritants.
- Wind and Physical Irritation: Strong, cold winds typical of winter can physically strip the skin of its protective lipid layer. This exacerbates dryness and can lead to irritation and sensitivity. Physical abrasion from wind, combined with the reduction of the protective sebum (oil) layer on the skin due to cold temperatures, results in increased vulnerability to irritants and allergens.
- Indoor Heating and Skin Hydration: Indoor heating systems, while essential for warmth in winter, can further reduce indoor humidity and contribute to skin dryness. The warm, dry air produced by heating systems enhances moisture evaporation from the skin, contributing to dryness and irritation.
- Hot Water Usage and Skin Lipids:There's a tendency to use hotter water for bathing and washing during winter, which can strip the skin of its natural oils, worsening dryness and sensitivity. Hot water can remove the skin’s lipid barrier, essential for retaining moisture and protecting against irritants.
- Skin Conditions and Winter Exacerbation: Clinical observations indicate that skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea can worsen in winter. The combined effects of low humidity, cold temperatures, and indoor heating can aggravate these conditions, often due to impaired barrier function and increased skin dryness.
What are Good Daily Skincare Rituals for Winter
Your daily skincare in winter needs special attention. Begin with a hydrating, barrier boosting cleanser to avoid stripping the skin's natural oils, which are crucial for maintaining moisture in cold weather. Follow this with a serum rich in hyaluronic acid, an ingredient which acts as a humectant, drawing water into the epidermal layers of the skin. Top this off with a deeply nourishing, anti-inflammatory moisturiser to reinforce your skin’s natural barrier against the harsh winter elements. Importantly, UV protection remains a must. The winter sun can be just as harmful as the summer sun as UVA levels are exactly the same despite it being cooler and less sunny, making a high-SPF sunscreen an indispensable part of your winter skincare arsenal. Our ALL DAY LONG is ideal as it is a hybrid product combining high-factor SPF (50+) cover and rich anti-inflammatory moisturiser.
The Impact of Cold Weather on Skin's Microbiome
Your skin's microbiome, the delicate balance of bacteria on your skin's surface, can be significantly disturbed by winter conditions. This disruption can lead to a weakened skin barrier, resulting in increased dryness, irritation, and susceptibility to skin conditions. Rebalancing your skin's microbiome with skincare products that contain prebiotics and postbiotics such as hyaluronic acid is crucial during the winter months.
What Supplements Should I Take for my Skin during Winter?
Hydration stands at the forefront of this, especially in winter when dry air saps moisture from your skin. Drinking ample water, complemented by herbal teas and water-rich fruits and vegetables, is fundamental. Your diet should also embrace essential fatty acids, found abundantly in salmon, flaxseeds, walnuts, and chia seeds, which are vital for maintaining the skin's lipid barrier against harsh winter dryness. For those struggling to meet their needs through diet alone, supplements like fish oil or flaxseed oil can fill the gap. The role of vitamins cannot be overstated; Vitamin C, crucial for collagen production and skin repair, and Vitamin E, a defender against oxidative damage, should be staples in your winter diet, sourced from citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables. Antioxidants, too, are indispensable in combating the damaging effects of free radicals, making berries, dark chocolate, and artichokes key players in your winter diet. The role of Vitamin D, particularly in those with darker skin types living in areas where UVB levels are lower is also an important consideration in the wintertime.
Zinc's contribution to skin healing is particularly valuable in addressing winter-specific skin woes like chapping and redness, with beef, spinach, and pumpkin seeds being excellent sources. The gut-skin axis highlights the importance of probiotics for overall skin health, advocating for the inclusion of yogurt, kefir, and fermented foods in your diet, or probiotic supplements as an alternative. Balancing your diet isn't just about what you add; it's also about what you limit. Reducing intake of skin-irritants like alcohol, caffeine, and processed foods can significantly decrease skin irritation and dryness during winter. This holistic approach to winter skin care, blending a nutrient-rich diet with adequate hydration and strategic supplementation, is the key to nurturing your skin from the inside out.
At-Home Skin Treatments for Winter Care
Incorporating at-home skin treatments can effectively counteract the adverse effects of winter. A light chemical peel, like Dr. David Jack's Blue Face Peel, gently exfoliates, removing dry, dead skin cells whilst promoting healthier, more resilient skin through it’s anti-inflammatory and hydrating ingredients, including vitamin B5 and azelaic acid. These treatments are especially beneficial in winter when skin regeneration tends to slow down.
Professional Skincare Treatments for Winter: The Winter Advantage
Winter is an ideal season for certain professional skincare treatments. Injectable treatments like Profhilo, which hydrates and stimulates collagen production, are especially beneficial during the colder months when skin dehydration is at its peak. Mesotherapy is another useful hydrating treatment with no downtime. Similarly, treatments for hyperpigmentation, such as Lumecca IPL, are ideal for the wintertime due to lower levels of sun exposure, reducing the risk of post-treatment pigmentation issues and enhancing overall results.
Embrace Winter with a Tailored Skincare Regimen
By understanding the specific needs of your skin during winter and adjusting your skincare routine accordingly, you can maintain healthy, glowing skin all season long. Remember, while this guide provides a comprehensive overview, consulting with a skincare professional for personalised advice is always recommended.
Book in now for consultations and personalised skin analysis at our clinics with our advanced practitioners to help you embrace the winter season with confidence, armed with the right knowledge and tools to keep your skin at its best.