Many of us have been blessed with relatively mild weather of late. However, the colder weather has well and truly arrived. This wintery climate has the potential to wreak havoc with our skin. The change from warm to cold, from our centrally heated homes to the chilly outdoors, causes stress to the skin and can leave it feeling really parched, dry and dull. This is because cold air carries less moisture and it causes the water to evaporate from our skin.
Here are my tips to help relieve tight, dry and sensitised skin. They will work to encourage a more hydrated, comfortable and glowing complexion and maintain, or rebuild, the natural protective barrier on the surface of the skin.
Avoid harsh facial washes
Don't use harsh facial washes to clean the skin. No matter what your skin type it needs so much more moisture at this time of year and unfortunately many foaming facial washes strip the skin and leave it feeling dry and tight. Never aim for that 'squeaky clean' feeling. If you get that, you're using the wrong product for your skin type. Use luke warm water, not hot water as when the temperature is too high this will aggravate the skin. And the least said about facial wipes the better! Avoid at all costs! Instead, choose something more comforting and kind to your skin i.e. a cleansing balm, gel or milk. Any skin type will benefit from choosing these during the colder months. Aim to clean your face once in the morning and twice in the evening (a double cleanse) to effectively remove make up, dirt, sweat, pollution, sunscreen etc. (Cleansing once in the evening is fine if you haven't been outside, worn make up or applied sunscreen). Many problems start when we don't clean our faces properly. Thoroughly cleansed skin creates a beautiful clean canvas for subsequent products.
Introduce hydrating essences
These are like hydrating toners, often thicker in consistency which deliver a huge hit of moisture to the skin. Perhaps swap out your normal toner in the evening and replace with an essence. Apply to a cotton pad and sweep over the face and neck. The moisture these deliver will also help other products, that are applied afterwards, work more efficiently.
Our skin is continuously renewing and part of this process is the culmination of layers of dry dead skin cells settling on the surface. An exfoliator will remove some of these to reveal a smoother, more even complexion which is more receptive to subsequently applied products i.e. serums and moisturisers. If you are used to using scrubs that contain physical grains try a very gently one that contains natural particles. You don't want anything that is going to scratch or damage your skin. I personally prefer a liquid exfoliator containing acids such as Glycolic, Lactic or Salicylic acid. Don't be scared by the name, I'm not talking about harsh acids that leave your skin sore and irritated. These acids are often derived from plants etc and work well with our skin. They nibble away at the dead skin cells and help speed up cell turnover which, as we get older, naturally slows down. Apply them to a cotton pad and sweep over the face, neck and décolleté avoiding the eye area. They are generally more effective than physical exfoliators. The advice on how often to use them during the colder months varies but I'd say don't be tempted to overuse them. A couple of times a week will be enough and ensure you moisturiser and use sun screen afterwards every day.
Spritz and spritz again
Consider using a hydrating facial mist, one that contains hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin, and spritz throughout the day. This may feel weird as you might associate facial spritzers with warm weather but they are incredibly hydrating and you will notice a difference within hours. Spray onto bare skin or over make up. I keep one by my desk, in my bag and in my fridge! I love them.
Apply a hyaluronic acid serum
Incorporate a serum that contains hyaluronic acid and apply after cleansing, toning/liquid exfoliator and eye product. This ingredient is one of the best ways to achieve hydrated skin. It occurs naturally in our skin but can be negatively impacted at this time of year. It's estimated that hyaluronic acid can hold up to one thousand times its own weight in water molecules and has the ability to bind moisture to the cells within our skin. It's most effective in serum form and is therefore pretty lightweight, so perfect for any skin type (it won't make skin oily). I use a hyaluronic acid serum every morning at the moment before my moisturiser. If you love baths apply your hyaluronic acid serum after cleansing and let the steam and humidity work its magic.
Facial oils are your friend
Integrate a facial oil into your routine. Plant oils can bring great comfort to dehydrated, irritated and parched skin. There are oils available for all skin types, even oily. Using a facial oil on oily skin will not make it oilier, it will help to regulate oil production whilst hydrating. I love the feeling of an oil on the skin and tend to use one most evenings before or instead of a moisturiser. I sometimes use them during the day too if my skin is feeling particularly parched or I am out walking. You could add a few drops of your facial oil into your moisturiser, foundation, mask or hand cream for an extra hydration hit.
Don't skip moisturiser
Always moisturise, even if your skin is naturally oily or combination. This helps to protect your skins natural barrier, acting as a shield against the negative effects of this cold weather and central heating. Therefore keeping our skin hydrated. Observe your own skin - is your current moisturiser being absorbed super quick once you've applied it? Is your skin still feeling tight, dry, uncomfortable? If you wear makeup do you feel like it disappears or slides off? If this is the case, it might not be rich enough. You could apply another layer of the same moisturiser once the first layer has sunk in or you could choose a richer cream. Look for ingredients such as ceramides, hyaluronic acid and fatty acids which will help to lock in moisture. You want to minimise trans epidermal water loss where water is lost from the skin and all of these steps will help to reduce this. Just be careful not to overload with too many heavy products (this is another reason why cleansing and exfoliating properly are so vital).
Treat the skin
Using a hydrating mask a couple of times a week will not only feel like a real treat for your skin, it will provide a hit of much needed nourishment. Choose a hydrating mask instead of more clay based masks. Although if you do have oily, spot prone skin, apply a clay mask first and then follow straight afterwards with a hydrating one. It's quite common for oily skin to be dehydrated too. I often apply a mask and either get some chores done around the house whilst it's doing its magic or simply sit with a cup of tea before washing the excess off.
Avoid products containing alcohol
Avoid any products which contain large amounts of alcohol. When checking the ingredient listings you really don't want alcohol as one of the first on the list. There is an exception to this with exfoliating acids where alcohol is used to keep the formula stable.
Don’t forget your lips. Keep a balm in your bag, on your desk, in your car for ease of application throughout the day and many brands offer lip masks which are richer and are ideal for overnight use.
Don't forget body care too
Don't forget to look after the skin on your body in addition to your face. This can become dry, itchy and generally more sensitive during the winter.
Opt for gentle body washes that don't contain harsh detergents such as Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS). This is used as a foaming agent and has the potential to irritate the skin.
Or choose a bath or shower oil instead. These are wonderfully comforting on the skin. Try not to have your shower or bath water too hot and if you can stand it blast your body with cold water at the end of your shower even if it’s just for a few seconds.
Gently exfoliate once or twice a week to remove dry dead skin cells which will allow body moisturisers to absorb more effectively.
Moisturise every day after showering or bathing. If you are short on time choose a body oil as these often absorb quicker than a cream or lotion.
Apply a rich hand cream before bed. If your hands are particularly dry apply another layer once the first has absorbed. Try to apply a lighter cream throughout the day and remember to exfoliate your hands a couple of times a week too. This will help dry skin enormously.
Key ingredients to look for
Ceramides - These naturally occur within our skin but skincare that contains ceramides will contribute to moisturising and preserving the protective barrier.
Hyaluronic acid and Glycerin - These are examples of humectants which work by attracting moisture from the air around us into the skin or keeping water from escaping from the skin. They are amazing sources of hydration.
Squalene and fatty acids - These are emollients which cover the skin with a protective barrier. They also help to reinforce the skins natural barrier.
Water & Supplements
Water - Don't forget to drink it. Even though it's cold we still need to keep our bodies hydrated and look after our skin (and everything else) from the inside. I find the easiest way to drink the required amount is to carry a water bottle around with me which I drink two or three times over during the day.
Supplements - Opt for omega 3 oils to support your skin from the inside. If you've never taken these before check with a healthcare professional first. You can include these in your diet too in the form of salmon, mackerel, walnuts, chia seeds, spinach, eggs, tofu, brussels sprouts, tuna, green leafy vegetables and avocados to name a few.
Perfumery & Company have an extensive range of skin and body care products which are perfect for winter time. I’ll show case a few within this blog but do pop into their stores, visit their website or give them a call. Being an independent business you are guaranteed to receive impartial advice tailored to your specific needs.
Elemis Pro Collagen Cleansing Balm
All skin types
This is a cleansing treatment balm and by far my favourite on the market. It is Elemis’ best seller and for good reason. It will gently remove make up and sunscreen to leave skin soft, hydrated and importantly not greasy. It’s mineral oil free and contains Mimosa and Rose waxes infused with Elderberry, Starflower and Optimega Oils. I use a tiny amount to clean my face in the evening. I warm it in my hands, take in a few deep breaths (it smells like a spa in a jar) and apply to dry skin, massaging in circular motions. Remove with a warm flannel. It is a pleasure to use.
Other cleansing balms to try:
The Organic Pharmacy Refillable Carrot Butter Cleanser
Neals Yard Frankincense Intense Cleansing Melt
Elemis Superfood glow Cleansing Butter
Neals Yard Wild Rose Beauty Balm
Elemis Dynamic Resurfacing Facial Wash
All skin types
One of my go to morning facial washes or for a second cleanse in the evening. It’s a skin smoothing cleanser with a gel/light cream texture. It contains a patented formula of enzymes and antioxidants which gently exfoliate and remove dirt and pollutants leaving the skin brighter and smoother. It won’t disrupt the protective barrier on the surface of our skin either.
Massage one pump into dry or damp skin, add a little water and continue to massage and then remove with a warm flannel. Always apply sunscreen when using resurfacing products.
Other facial washes to try:
Elemis Pro-Collagen Energising Marine Cleanser
The Organic Pharmacy Rose Facial Cleansing Gel
Elemis Superfood Facial Wash
Clarins Total Cleansing Oil
Elemis Dynamic Resurfacing Facial Pads
These are skin smoothing pads which remove the dry dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. They deliver a measured dose of Elemis’ Tri Enzyme technology containing lactic acid and probiotic ferment complex to gently exfoliate the skin. Which in turn speeds up the skins natural turn over. This complex dissolving the glue that binds the dead skin cells together. They can also reduce the appearance of pores and uneven skin texture and tone. There are no particles like a traditional exfoliator and are super quick and easy to use.
Use one pad and sweep over the face and neck avoiding the eye area. No need to rinse. Elemis suggest using every day morning and evening but I would suggest starting with once or twice a week. These pads are perfect for prepping the skin for moisture. They will allow serums and moisturisers and facial spritz to do their job on the skin. Always apply sunscreen when using resurfacing products.
Other exfoliators to try:
Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel
The Organic Pharmacy Four Acid Peel
Elemis Superfood Multi Mist
All skin types
My absolute favourite facial spritz/mist. A 4 in 1 facial mist. This effectively hydrates, tones, primes skin ready for makeup and sets make up. I love it! Containing antioxidant rich coconut water, Rooibos Tea and vegan Kefir ferment. It will also soothe and give skin a dewy finish. If your face is feeling parched after a cold winter walk or from cosying up near an open fire or central heating this is a quick way to feed the skin with a hit of hydration at any time of day. Close eyes and spray onto the face.
Other mists to try:
The Organic Pharmacy Rose Facial Spritz
Neals Yard Frankincense Hydrating Facial Mist
Elemis Superfood Priming Moisturiser
All skin types
This is an award winning illuminating moisturiser which I adore. It brightens, hydrates and nourishes. It is subtly tinted and therefore provides an incredible glow to any skin tone. It’s packed full of nutrients to energise and nourish. It can be worn as a moisturiser, over a moisturiser as an extra layer or under make up as a primer. It can even be used as a highlighter on the cheekbones, bridge of the nose and cupids bow.
Apply a pea sized amount every morning after cleansing/shaving.
Other moisturisers/illuminators to try:
The Organic Pharmacy Tinted Beauty
Elemis SOS Emergency Cream
Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream for Men
Clarins Blue Orchid Facial Oil
Elemis Superfood Day Cream & Night Creams
Clarins Calm Essential Soothing Emulsion
Elemis Skin Nourishing Shower Cream
For all skin types
This is an extremely gentle but luxurious wash delivered in a cream consistency which washes, conditions and softens the skin. It can be used in the shower (You will use less if you apply it to a sponge) or pour directly under running water in the bath to create a sumptuous bath experience. The best way I can describe the fragrance is like a soft comfort blanket. It’s not overpowering, is perfect for morning and evening and will not influence any fragrance you apply afterwards. A great product to keep the skin on our body from feeling dry and flaky.
Clarins Moisture Rich Body Lotion
For all skin types
This incredible body lotion contains shea butter which is a complete winner for me. This means that it is super moisturising and nourishing. It’s as rich as some body creams but it’s consistency is more like a balm and therefore absorbs quickly into the skin. The fragrance isn’t overpowering so, like the Elemis Shower Cream, it will not interfere with your fragrance. This is a quick and easy way to keep the skin on your body hydrated every day. But remember to exfoliate once or twice a week so that your skin can truly benefit from this gorgeous lotion.
By building a skincare wardrobe containing different products for different issues, concerns and seasons, you can choose what to layer onto your face to keep it comfortable and at its best. So remember, during these colder months layer up your skincare much like you would your clothes. Look at your skin, feel your skin, is it drinking up the products you are applying? If so, apply a little more. This process will allow dry, dehydrated or irritated skin the ideal environment to heal, feel comfortable and glow. Which is just what we are seeking to do.