There is something magical about this time of year, especially in and around Wimbledon. Frosty mornings on the common, Christmas lights on the high street, the community spirit in the village… One thing not so magical about this time of the year is the effect it has on our skin.
As the days become colder and the nights draw in, the effects of cold air, central heating, and long hot showers can take its toll on our skin leaving it red, dry and irritated. In some cases, these dry patches can become itchy and with excessive scratching can cause the skin to break, risking infection.
Below are my top 8 tips to help keep your skin both looking and feeling its best over the winter months:
1) Apply a good quality broad spectrum SPF daily.
An SPF of at least 30 and if possible 50 is essential all year round as damage to the skin from UV rays can occur regardless of the weather. During the winter months, the extra hours of darkness will also potentially lead to more screen time in front of mobile phones, laptops and other blue light emitting devices which can also damage the skin.
2) Avoid long, hot showers and baths.
They may feel amazing, but exposing the skin to water that’s too hot will actually damage the skin and dehydrate it. Hot water evaporates fast and if the skin is not immediately moisturised after, the cracks In the skin let the nerves get exposed to air, which feels like lots of small paper cuts, or eczema. This is commonly known as ‘winter’s itch’. A lukewarm shower or bath will be far more beneficial to your skin, as well as ensuring you apply a product rich in ceramides or hyaluronic acid after to prevent the skin barrier losing water.
3) Add moisture to the air with a humidifier.
Cranking up the temperature indoors may be one of the first things we do, but central heating actually makes the air in your house even drier and dehydrates your skin. Try to keep your thermostat at a cool, but comfortable setting and invest in a humidifier to add moisture to the air to maintain healthy skin.
4) Keep fluid levels up.
In cold, winter months it’s so easy to forget to keep drinking throughout the day, buts it’s important to stay hydrated to prevent dryness. Preferably not just with caffeinated drinks and mulled wine, but with herbal tea and decaffeinated alternatives or hot water with ginger/lemon.
5) Avoid ‘lick eczema’
ie soreness and redness on the fine skin surrounding the lips when they are repeatedly licked. This is a vicious cycle caused when the lips are dehydrated and we instinctively lick them to try and stop them becoming dry, yet as we do so, they become more chapped. Not only will ensuring you stay well hydrated help in preventing this, also try and apply a non-irritating lip balm several times a day, particularly before bedtime.
6) Limit fragranced and soap based products.
Some soaps and fragrances can worsen dry, itchy skin. It is always best to opt for products which are labelled ‘fragrance free’ to reduce irritation to the skin.
7) Adapt your skincare routine to the winter months.
Try to opt for thicker creams and ointments in the winter months rather than lotions which are commonly much thinner, especially when getting out of the bath or shower and before bed If the skin is really very dry and irritated, then exfoliation is not a good idea. Avoid any products which may contain alcohol as this may further dry and irritate skin. Don’t forget, when moisturising your face, moisturise your hands too! They will also be suffering from the cold weather!
8) Escape the central heating.
Wrap up warm and embrace a winter walk in the fresh air. Not only good for getting away from potentially dry, damaging indoor environments, but also massively beneficial for your mental health! My walk of choice to get out and about is with my dog through Cannon Hill Common.
Your Skin Health & Skin Science
My name in Gemma Fromage and I am a pharmacist of 13 years, and have spent the last 10 years working in the skincare and aesthetics industry. I have my own Aesthetics business, Your Skin Health, based in Raynes Park and Kingston and have recently launched my own cosmeceutical skin care range ‘Skin Science’. I not only provide treatments for skin rejuvenation, but I also advise on the best skincare ingredients for your skin based on a thorough consultation. Although the clinic is currently closed due to Covid-19 restrictions, I am currently holding virtual consultations and am happy to discuss your skin care questions.
Written by: Gemma Fromage – Your Skin Health
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