Written By | Julia - Freelance COABE Writer
Winter brings with it so much that we look forward to; the holiday season, beautiful snowy landscapes, an excuse to drink copious amounts of comforting cider and/or hot toddies and a reason to enjoy the best comfort foods with family and friends.
It also brings with it, things that are a little less enjoyable, – cold, damp, shorter days, seasonal depression and if we’re really digging deep here (not to be superficial or anything) – dry winter skin.
Growing up, even in the warm, humid Caribbean, I was taught to moisturise after having a shower and that was twice a day because we showered once in the morning and once in the evening. Moving to London taught me that this was not common and showering once a day, or for some, 3-5 times a week, was perfectly normal. That’s a discussion/debate for another day, however.
I have to say though that at the time, I found this routine of moisturising long and sometimes unnecessary because I was going to sweat off all this lotion anyway, but I am grateful for that practice now that I live in colder climates because it’s a part of my routine that I do not skip, and one that has helped my skin adjust to the colder months.
It’s common knowledge that our skin becomes dry or drier than usual during the cold winter months. Some of us experience flaky or dry patches, inflamed eczema and itchy redness. There are several factors that play into how our skin reacts to the cold temperatures. They include:
- Less humidity in the atmosphere: believe it or not, humidity is a key component in keeping our skin soft and supple
- Heat: artificial warm air that we are exposed to indoors also dries out our skin
- Less sunlight equals less vitamin D: according to dermatologist, Dr. Estemalik MD, sunlight poses as a natural anti-inflammatory which can reduce eczema flare ups
- Good ole’ genetics: simply put, your skin is just prone to being drier due to your genetic make-up
But fear not! While these are all factors that are seemingly out of our control, there are a few things we can incorporate into our daily routines that can combat our dry skin or make it go away for good.
Limiting the length and frequency of your showers
This was a tricky one for me because I was so used to bathing twice a day, but I found that cutting my showers down to once a day really helped with my skin. This is because the water in the UK and U.S.A is a lot “harder” than the water in Trinidad and that simply means that the water has a higher mineral content or more calcium and magnesium dissolved into the water. These minerals absorb the moisture from your skin and can leave your skin feeling dry and irritated.
Incorporating exfoliation into your shower routine can make the world of difference. Scrubbing away all the old, dead skin and mineral build up is a great way to reveal soft, supple skin ready for hydration. Gentle exfoliators are recommended here so whether it’s a chemical exfoliator for your face and body or a non-abrasive physical exfoliator, proceed with caution because what you want to avoid is breaking the skin’s barrier. You also want to avoid over exfoliating.
Moisturise immediately after showering
Or even during. Locking that moisture into your skin by using a thick lotion or body butter is a great way to ensure hydrated healthy skin. But you can take it a step further by using an in-shower moisturiser. This can be in the form of a body oil or a lotion that is specifically made to use in the shower – it’s typically one that you don’t rinse off but rather pat dry into your skin upon finishing with your shower. Depending on your skin type, you’ll know if this can work for you.
Speaking of skin types, these are also factors to consider when combatting dry winter skin for both body and face.
For drier skin types – you may want to avoid fragranced moisturisers and cleansers. If you’re prone to eczema, you’ll want to use a fragrance free, dermatologist recommended emollient that acts as a cleanser as well.
For oily skin types – it may logically make sense to stay away from oil-based products, but actually, light oils are good for these skin types because you still need something to tackle the flakiness and itchiness that you’re experiencing. The goal here is to try to balance out your skin’s overproduction of natural oils.
For combination skin types - for both your body and face, you may want to apply different products to the areas that are affected in different ways. This can be a bit more time consuming but ultimately may produce the best results in terms of healthy, hydrated skin.
If you’re ballsy (I simply cannot do this), turn down the heat of your showers. Hot showers in winter make sense but not for your skin it doesn’t. Maybe start with a lukewarm shower and see how much colder you can handle from there. Good luck!
If you don’t want to turn the heat down in your house, you can add a humidifier to various rooms to add moisture back into the air.
When combatting dry winter skin, a few key takeaways are to moisturise and identify and modify variables within your control. Outside of that, stay warm and enjoy the season for what it is because it isn’t here forever and soon, we’ll be complaining that it’s too hot and we can’t wait for winter to come around again.