Winter weather and conditions can really mess with our skin. Especially our skin barrier. Weather changes, low humidity + central heating can suck moisture and essential ceramides out of your skin, leading to a weakened skin barrier and a host of skin issues to follow. Skin is more vulnerable and prone to dehydration, irritation, acne and inflammation. Even more, wearing face masks in the winter, the constant donning of them on and off, as well as wool beanies, hoods and collared coats – can further chafe the skin, stripping our skin of necessary oils, breaking down the barrier, and reducing our skin’s protective layer.
When our protective layer, or our epidermal barrier is compromised, skin doesn't look, feel or function the same. Barrier breakdown, common in the winter, can lead to a host of skin challenges. Here are some tips on how to fight the winter woes.
1) CHOOSE a pH balanced and moisturizing cleanser, free from strong acids and sulfates, which can dehydrate skin, over-exfoliate the epidermis, leading to irritation and sensitivity.
2) AVOID daily and over-use of strong exfoliants and active ingredients, such as retinoids and vitamin C derivatives. These can damage the barrier and create a more ‘permeable’ skin surface, thereby increasing water loss and leaving skin vulnerable to irritants, pathogens, and harmful bacteria.
3) CLEANSE with cool or lukewarm water. Very warm and hot water is dehydrating, strips the skin of necessary oils and can break down the skin’s barrier, leading to further dehydration and sensitivity.
4) KEEP showers and facial cleansing short. Long showers, especially hot, can ultimately strip necessary oils from our skin leading to barrier dysfunction.
5) AVOID towel-drying skin, which is abrasive to the skin barrier. Instead, use a damp washcloth to pat down skin and preserve moisture.
6) APPLY skincare products to damp skin after cleansing, helping to lock in superficial moisture and hydration.
7) BEWARE of overloading skin with too many products or thick oils which can “sit” on the skin’s surface. This can damage the lipid barrier and cause irritation – leading to inflammation and a weakened barrier and often acne.
8) INCORPORATE products with natural ceramides to replenish lipid loss. Ceramides and other lipids, such as cholesterol and free fatty acids, are essential to healthy, hydrated and resilient skin.
9) DRINK plenty of water and choose foods rich in Omega oils, like walnuts and salmon, which contribute to healthy skin processes, cellular turnover and hydrate from within.
10) WEAR organic cotton, double-layered masks whenever possible. This will help to avoid skin irritation from chemicals in synthetic fabrics.