The winter months, characterized by alternating cold and heated air and low humidity, present many skin challenges. Skin feels and looks drier and sensitive skin is more irritable than usual because of decreased sebum production, which is a result of insufficient blood supply in the outer layers of our skin. The cold contracts our skin’s blood vessels in order to preserve heat, limiting the ability of oxygen and nutrients to reach the skin. The perfect storm of alternating cold and heated air and low humidity increases trans-epidermal water loss, which in turn means the skin lacks adequate hydration to maintain its immune function, and causes the skin barrier to degrade. The result is skin vulnerable to dysfunction and prone to dryness, flakiness, dullness and irritation. Skin exposed to the elements (especially cheeks, lips, and hands) are the hardest hit.
While winter presents a difficult environment for our skin, there are things you can do to boost and protect skin against the cold months:
Switch to a lipid-rich moisturizer
When it gets cooler and humidity is low, it’s important to use products that are more lipid and antioxidant-rich and to double up on hydration. In the first instance, you can support your skin by using a face cream that contains valuable oils such as my FACE CREAM RICH, which helps to balance the skin and nourish the cells, protecting them from dehydration. And if you’re in more extreme temperatures or skiing this holiday, my SKI CREAM’s unique water-in-oil based formula helps strengthen the skin, reduce irritation and boost hydration with a formulation that includes the anti-oxidant powerhouse Purslane, Edelweiss (which contains skin-calming “lignans”), Shea Butter, Vitamin E and irritation-reducing Balloon Vine and Blackcurrant Oil. Both creams should be the last step to seal the skin's protective barrier so that the moisture remains in the skin and cannot be drawn out by osmosis into the dry air.
Use a mild exfoliator
Exfoliation is important all year round but especially essential in winter to help boost blood circulation and gently slough away the dead, dry skin cells that build up on the skin. Dead skin cells interfere with the absorption of ingredient science that you apply, and block moisture from reaching any healthy living cells underneath. Be careful however not to over-exfoliate; dry, flaky skin might also be more sensitive in the colder months. Use a mild, enzyme-based exfoliant two to three times a week such as my ENZYME CLEANSER, which deploys the enzyme Subtilisin to remove dry and rough skin cells and the enzyme Lipase to free the skin from excess sebum/oil. Together, both enzymes provide a deep, yet gentle exfoliation without harming healthy skin.
Use a humidifier
Humidifiers simply but effectively increase air hydration levels by forcing moisture into the environment usually via a mist. They're especially helpful during the colder months of the year because artificial heat makes indoor air extremely dry and alternating between dry, hot and cold air strips the skin of its natural oils, which can degrade the skin's natural moisture barrier and cause flaking, cracking, and peeling. Higher humidity can also help combat cold and flu symptoms and can help loosen congestion and lubricate your nasal passages, allowing you to breathe easier.
Adjust your skincare routine
Aside from a lipid-rich face cream, your daily skincare routine should also include a Hyaluronic Acid-based serum such as my HYALURONIC SERUM with my proprietary formulation of high concentration, long- and short-chained molecules that replenish the moisture depots in deeper skin layers while providing an immediate hydration boost to superficial layers. Winter is an important time to mask. I use my deeply hydrating FACE MASK more frequently in the winter along with a richer, lipid-based serum like my CALMING SERUM, which contains healing and calming ingredients like Sunflower Extract, Cardiospermum Extract, Purslane, Sweet Almond Oil and Echium.
Saunas are terrific approaches to winter skin and overall health and wellness, with proven therapeutic benefits. Sauna has been shown in large clinical studies to reduce acne, boost your immune system, improve skin barrier function, and even improve cardiovascular systems. But after exiting the sauna, it is also important to quickly protect your skin from trans-epidermal water loss by sealing it with a hyaluronic acid-based serum and/or moisturizer.
Choose a pH balanced cleanser
Everything conspires to disrupt the delicate pH balance of our skin, which should be around 5.5. Soap, diet, skincare products and even tap water can lead to an acid/alkaline imbalance that prevents our lipid producing cells from working efficiently and triggers inflammation and irritation. Therefore it’s important to make sure your cleanser and other skincare products are pH balanced - and consider the use of a gentle toner to correct your pH.