As the colder weather sets in, our skin can suffer from all manner of winter woes including tightness, dry flaky patches and sensitivity. The low humidity in the air has a drying effect on the skin and add into the mix the warmth of the central heating, which sucks the moisture out, its’ no wonder our skin is thrown off kilter. Dr Anita Sturnham, GP specialising in Dermatology and consultant to pH balanced skincare brand, Sebamed, shares her advice on how best to take care of our skin during the cold snap.
What is dry skin?
Dry skin is a common complaint especially during the winter months and can be caused by genetic, hormonal and environmental factors. The products we use can also be potential triggers for dry skin. Essentially parched skin is skin that has lost the strength in its epidermal barrier, the uppermost layer of our skin that has an important protective role. Think of your epidermis as your skin's defensive brick wall. The bricks are the skin cells, or corneocytes, and the mortar is the interlamellar lipid structure that holds the bricks together. If these lipids breakdown, we get gaps appearing between the corneocyte bricks. Water escapes rapidly through these gaps by a process called transepidermal moisture loss and we are left with dry and sensitive skin.
For an effective skincare strategy to counteract dry skin, the Sebamed Anti-Dry range works wonders thanks to its natural skin conditioning Glycerin, Panthenol, Bisabolol, vitamin E and active moisturising complexes.
Why do we get dry and sensitive skin?
If you have dry or sensitive skin, it is highly likely that the top layer of your skin, also known as your epidermal barrier, may not be at its optimal health. Think of the top layer of your skin as your protective brick wall. It works hard, day and night, to stop bad stuff, like bacteria, creeping in and good stuff, like water, escaping. When you have dry or sensitive skin, the skin’s barriers are typically weakened, the skin’s natural immune defences are low and the skin does not hold onto its moisture levels well, leaving it feeling dry and dehydrated. During the winter months, we tend to have less sun exposure and this leads to reduced Vitamin D levels in our bodies. Vitamin D, also known as the ‘sunshine’ vitamin has important immune function properties but it also enhances skin health. When we are deficient in Vitamin D, our skin suffers.
Top tips on how to take care of winter skin:
- Avoid long hot baths as these can dehydrate your skin and take shorter, tepid showers instead
- Don’t use heavily scented or fragranced products for cleansing, as these tend to strip your skin of its essential oils, breaking down the skin’s protective hydration barriers
- Wash your skin with PH neutral body washes, that provide a gentle, yet effective cleanse, without damaging your skin, like many cleansing soaps and washes tend to do
- Remember in the winter months to use a slightly richer day and night cream formulation as this can help to prevent transepidermal moisture loss and restore skins barriers. Our Anti-dry Day Defense Cream and Night Intensive Cream are rich is Rapeseed phytosterols and natural shea butter and Jojoba, which nourish, strengthen and hydrate
- A gentle exfoliation in winter is actually a good thing. Exfoliation is a great way of giving your skin a radiant glow, removes complexion dulling dead skin cells and allows fresh healthy skin cells to reach the surface, resulting in skin that looks brighter and rejuvenated. We suggest using our Clear Face Gentle Scrub is a great polish, perfect for all skin types, once a week
- Keep away from products that are too alkaline or acidic when you cleanse, as these tend to strip your skin of its essential oils, breaking down the skins protective hydration barriers. The Sebamed range offers a collection of cleansing bars, face and body washes that are all skin PH neutral and allows you to cleanse effectively without damaging your skin's important PH balance
- Apply your moisturiser just after cleansing or showering, whilst the skin is still a little damp as this helps to lock extra moisture into the skin and minimises dehydration. This rule also applies to face and body and don’t scrub the skin – pat it dry
- Look out for products containing moisturising ingredients such as glycerine, hyaluronic acid, squalene and vitamin E in your cleansers and serums and almond oil, avocado, vitamin E and soothing aloe vera in your moisturisers as these can create a protective layer on your skin, offering some respite from the elements that you won’t get from water based skincare products
- Don’t lick your lips – this just makes them more dehydrated. Invest in a good lip balm instead like our Lip Defence Balm - rich in Vitamin E, Bisabolol, nurturing Jojoba and skin conditioning rice bran extract
- Don’t forget hands. These often withstand the worst of the icy cold weather, so remember to protect them. Carry a tube of moisturising hand cream with you as you go about your day and apply liberally and regularly. At night swap this for an intensely moisturising night cream, which works over night to hydrate your skin, so that you awake to silky smooth hands the next day
- Moisturise to the max. The very best way to keep your skin strong and protected is to moisturise, moisturise and yes you heard it, moisturise