The winter skin guide

Expert tips for caring for your skin naturally during the winter months

Summer is but a distant memory, and winter is well on its way. And with the change of seasons we start to put on the central heating more often, cosy up in winter jumpers and brace ourselves against the chill of the wind. All these things can have a marked effect on our skin, leading it to become increasingly dehydrated, sore and sensitive.

“There is no question that the cold air wreaks havoc on our skin and dryness can be a huge concern,” says celebrity skin health therapist Louise Thomas-Minns (www.louisethomasskincare.co.uk). “This is because environmental changes start to disrupt the skin’s delicate lipid barrier and allow water to escape. It can also lead to increased sensitivity and even spotty outbreaks.”

“Winter skincare strategies need to focus on maintaining a strong and effective barrier to the outside world, so that moisture is locked in rather than lost to the wind,” adds Lucy Gulland of Purepotions Skincare (www.purepotions.co.uk). “That means boosting the strength of skin cell membranes and giving cells the nutrients, water and oils they need to support their continual cycle of regeneration.”

Create an effective barrier

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are a key ingredient when it comes to caring for your skin, particularly during the winter. “You can get EFAs in your diet, but if you want to give your skin a super nutritious boost, they’re even more effective when applied topically,” says Lucy Gulland. “So, seek out skincare products made from oils rich in omega-3, 6 and 9; you’re looking for oils such as hemp seed, rosehip, sea buckthorn, flaxseed and borage. A good oil-based ointment, hand cream or facial oil will support the skin’s barrier function, keeping the skin well moisturised both in the short term by providing a fine physical layer over delicate skin, as well as keeping the epidermis healthy and well-nourished in the long term by providing the nutrient building blocks for its regeneration and repair.”

Keep your fluid levels up

“It sounds obvious, but making sure you’re taking in plenty of fluids is my number one tip for keeping skin hydrated,” says celebrity facialist, aromatherapist and natural skin care pioneer, Antonia Burrell (www.antoniaburrell.com). “Make sure you drink at least half a litre of water each day, as well as herbal or fruit tea. I also recommend coconut water, which is one of the most hydrating fluids around, and tastes delicious!”

Remember: SPF is not just for summer

Applying sun protection cream may be something we only associate with summer, but according to Louise Thomas-Minns, we should actually be applying our SPF all year round. “UVA, the most damaging ray, is present 365 days of the year,” says Louise. “Snow will also reflect and enhance this so be extra cautious. It should always be the last thing on your skin before make-up application.”

Try a facial oil

“Facial dry oils are a great way of topping up your hydration in addition to your moisturiser,” says skincare expert Alison Kynoch (www.alikmua.co.uk). “They are lightweight and easily absorbed. The term ‘dry oil’ can be a bit confusing. It isn’t referring to the actual oil being dry but how your face, body and hair absorbs the product. It is a very light oil that your skin absorbs very easily, nourishing and hydrating your skin without leaving a greasy filmy residue. Another benefit is that a little goes a long way – a couple of drops are more than enough for your face.” For dry dehydrated skin, Alison recommends looking for facial oils containing rosehip seed oil, avocado oil or argan oil.

Harness the power of minerals

Those with dry, damaged and eczema-prone skin would do well to look for natural beauty products containing the natural mineral compound zeolite. “Zeolite deposits healthful minerals such as magnesium, potassium, sodium, calcium and iron into the skin,” explains Dr Shamini Singh Sachdev. “These minerals may improve skin texture and reduce redness and inflammation, making them excellent for dry, damaged and eczema-prone skin. Zeolite is extremely hydrophilic, drawing water to the skin surface. This is one of the reasons it is included in anti-ageing and eczema skincare products as it plumps and hydrates dry, dehydrated skin.”

Don’t forget your hands

“In winter, hands can often get dry too, so use an intensive hand cream regularly and each night before bed to give skin a chance to heal and stay supple,” says Lindsey Springer, independent skincare advisor for Hope’s Relief (www.hopes-relief.com). “If you suffer from eczema, applying the cream and then cotton gloves on top may be helpful. Remember to wear winter gloves when it is cold and windy outside too (and use rubber gloves when washing up or touching cleaning products).”

Avoid chemical nasties!

When shopping for natural beauty products, there are a number of key chemical ‘nasties’ to avoid. “Most known ‘nasties’ are petrochemicals, sulfates, parabens, synthetic fragrance, synthetic colours, T.E.A., D.E.A. and silicones,” says Dr Shamini Singh Sachdev. “Always check the ingredient list before using a product. The lower on the list an ingredient is, the less of that particular ingredient is actually in there. If you see a product with a list of synthetics and then lastly a natural ingredient, it is likely there is less than one per cent of that ingredient in there!”

Another tip to bear in mind when choosing natural products is that if a product is naturally fragranced, you will not find the word ‘parfum’ in the ingredient list. Also, if a product is particularly foamy, like a mousse or bubble bath, it is very likely that it will contain Sodium Laureth/Lauryl Sulfate, which is a big no no. “SLS or SLES is a known skin irritant,” says Dr Shamini Singh Sachdev. “But unfortunately it’s still often used by big skincare brands, as it is such an easy preservative and because we like foam! Natural occurring foam creates much smaller bubbles and is generally much nicer for your skin.”

Did you know?

“Jojoba is very similar to our skin’s natural oils, so it’s easily absorbed,” says Dr Shamini Singh Sachdev of Salcura Skincare (www.salcuraskincare.com). “Dermatologists recommend it because it also contains such minerals as zinc and copper, and vitamins B and E, which help strengthen the skin. It works by forming an oily layer on the top of the skin that traps water in the skin.”

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