Winter is fast approaching. Cold weather, wind chill, reflective damage from snow, dry homes and offices zap moisture and make skin feel dry, chapped, cracked and even itchy.
It’s time to winterize your skin. It’s time to change your routine.
Exfoliate regularly to remove the top layer of dead skin. This process helps serums and moisturizers penetrate the skin and be more effective. Most over-the-counter exfoliation products are gentle and can be used 1-2 times per week. Home care peels once a week is sufficient during the winter months.
There are two main exfoliation methods, chemical and physical.
- Chemical exfoliators contain ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), beta hydroxy acids (BHA) or gentler fruit enzymes that loosen the bonds between dead skin cells so they can be sloughed off.
- Physical exfoliators use the mechanical movement of a tool (a brush or granules) to remove the top layer. The face scrubs you see at the drug store typically fall into this category.
Generally speaking, chemical exfoliators are preferred since they are easy to use and very efficient. They are great for smoothing and brightening. With physical exfoliators there is some risk of applying too much pressure which may lead to irritation or micro tears in the skin.
2) Change your products.
Cleanser. Since skin produces less sweat and oil in the winter months, you should use a milder cleanser that is not soap based. Choose something that is creamier or try a facial cleansing oil or micellar water. Follow cleansing with a moisturizing toner to ensure you remove all traces of make-up.
Serum. Serums are used after cleansing and toning but before moisturizer. They have active ingredients and are highly concentrated so a little goes along way. Serums are normally lightweight, target specific problems and penetrate deeper into the skin due to their small molecular size. For winter, look for serums that contain hyaluronic acid which attracts and retains moisture.
Moisturizer. There is overwhelming choice with the hundreds of brands that are available. To winterize skin, look for cream based moisturizers that are oil based versus water based ones like lotions. The active ingredients you want to look for are:
- Humectants. Hyaluronic acid is a popular one that helps to retain moisture
- Anti-oxidants. Vitamin A, E or Co-enzyme Q10 which speed up the skin’s natural repair system are common.
- Ceramides. These are the lipid molecules that hold the skin cells together to form its natural barrier.
These elements will attract moisture, promote cell turnover, plump skin and offer other anti-aging benefits.
Sunscreen. Yes, it’s winter and cold outside but protecting your skin from UV rays is a daily necessity regardless of temperature. Don’t let cold and cloudy days trick you into a false sense of security; UVA rays pass through glass and clouds and cause damage deeper in the skin. Snow reflects up to 80% of UV rays. Daily exposure will add up over time into sun damage and wrinkles. Wear sunscreen even in the winter.
3) Hydrating mask
Face masks have come a long way. Today, they come in every format and address a multitude of skin conditions. To winterize skin, you want a cream or gel mask that focuses on replenishing skin oils and hydrating skin. Some people prefer a sheet mask that is soaked in product. Other people make their own masks from natural products such as fruits, honey and yogurt. The key is to apply the mask on a clean face, relax and let the active ingredients nourish your skin.
Adding humidity to the heated air in our homes during the winter helps alleviate the symptoms of dry and itchy skin, cracked lips and even nose bleeds by reversing the evaporation of moisture from our skin. The extra moisture in the air helps keep skin hydrated and supple.
5) Warm Showers, Not Hot.
Hot water can strip the protective oil from the skin and cause it to become scaly and flaky. Conditions like eczema and psoriasis can worsen. It is much better to bath or shower in warm water and limit it to 5-10 minutes. Be sure to apply oils or lotions within 2-3 minutes while the skin is still damp. This will maximize moisture retention.
Kathleen Browne is a certified Medical Esthetician who successfully completed the Medical Esthetics for Nurses certification at Centennial College in Toronto, Canada. Kathleen also has many years of experience as a registered nurse. She is passionate about educating clients on how to address and manage their conditions so that they look and feel their best.
Kathleen can analyze your skin and help you develop a routine specific to your needs. She offers exfoliation services and facials and uses Miracle 10 professional products.