As winter approaches with its lower temperatures, so the humidity in the air drops, especially in the cold Highveld regions of South Africa and our skins become drier. This is also a time when we all gravitate towards warm fires and heaters, which tends to further dry out our skins and lips. We always see an increase in requests on Dermastore support for products to alleviate these symptoms at this time of the year and we know it is a very real problem for many people who feel the changes in their skin.
Even those with fairly tough, resilient skins are not immune to this change of season. If you have a tendency towards a more dry, irritated skin in winter, then there are few changes you need to make to your skincare routine to help your skin adapt.
The first suggestion is to change your cleanser to a gentle, neutral-pH, cream-based cleanser on the face – this will not only maintain moisture in the skin but it will also protect the skin barrier. Look at La-Roche Posay Toleriane Dermo Cleanser or SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser Cream. We would also recommend that you use a mild, fragrance-free, glycerine-based soap or a liquid cleanser on the body. It is also always a good idea to pat the body dry after a bath or shower and apply your moisturiser immediately to damp skin.
Over-cleansing can also dry out the skin so I would recommend one, good, deep cleanse at night to remove all impurities and environmental debris on the skin and in the morning after a shower, to just refresh your skin with a Micellar water on a cotton gauze pad before applying your serums and moisturisers.
You may also find in winter that your face becomes less tolerant of active ingredients such as Retinol. If your skin becomes dry and irritated when using active ingredients in winter, it may be necessary to reduce the usage to three nights per week or less according to your own skin’s tolerance levels and dryness.
The second suggestion is to have a re-look at your moisturiser in winter – this is vitally important if your skin is feeling dehydrated as you do not want to risk disrupting your skin barrier function which can cause extreme sensitivity. You could change to a more hydrating, lipid-rich moisturiser to counteract the dryness. Alternatively, it may not be necessary to change your current day and night creams with active ingredients, especially if you are happy with them, but you could look at layering an additional hydrating moisturiser over them which does not contain active ingredients. The third suggestion for extra hydration would to add a serum with hyaluronic acid under your day and night creams.
To treat dry winter skin, you need to use the correct moisturiser on the face, body, hands and feet.
An ideal moisturiser usually contains a mix of emollients, occlusives and humectants. Together, these help to restore the natural lipids in your skin and to prevent transepidermal water loss.
Emollients mainly contain lipids and oils which keep the skin soft, smooth and supple. They include free-fatty acids, cholesterol, ceramides, coconut oil, canola oil, sunflower seed oil and shea butter.
Occlusives reduce transepidermal water loss by creating a hydrophobic barrier over the skin but they are often greasy. In hairy areas on the body, they may cause a folliculitis and can also cause acne breakouts. Occlusives include Petrolatum, Mineral oil, Beeswax and Silicone. Lanolin is still used as an occlusive in many moisturisers but there is an increase in people becoming allergic to lanolin or wool-fat, so I would recommend avoiding moisturisers that contain lanolin.
SBR Repair Cream – Great for lips, eyelids, cracked hands, heels, elbows, non-hairy areas.
Humectants work by attracting water from the external environments and from the dermis. Examples of humectants include Glycerol, Panthenol, Urea, Gluconolactone (a Poly Hydroxy Acid), Propylene Glycol and Hyaluronic acid.
Moisturisers on the face can often be combined with a sunscreen and should be non-comedogenic. It is best to use the appropriate moisturiser for your age, sex and skin type. It is also important to use different moisturisers for specific areas on the body i.e. use a thicker occlusive moisturiser with a high concentration of urea for cracked heels and elbows and a lighter lotion formulation for men with hairy legs and/or on their trunk. Women with overall body dryness should use a richer, nourishing formulation.
Product for Cracked Heels: ISDIN Ureadin RX30
Product for Cracked heels, hands, elbows: NeoStrata® Problem Dry Skin
In summary, a good moisturiser should do the following, especially in the cold, dry winters:
- Be effective in reducing and preventing transepidermal water loss (TEWL).
- Restore normal lipids and maintain a healthy skin barrier.
- Maintain a healthy acid mantle – pH 3.5 – 5.2
- Absorb easily and provide immediate hydration.
- Hypoallergenic, Non-comedogenic & Fragrance-free