The weather is changing and we can all feel it. Temperatures and humidity levels dropped and the furnaces have come on. These changes have an extreme impact on our skin. It is essential to prepare, and change your skin care starting now so when the really cold, windy weather gets here your skin is ready.
Why is the winter weather so harsh on our skin?
Skin is responsible for regulating body temperatures, removing skin toxins and pathogens, and acting as a barrier to maintain adequate hydration. Fall/winter brings cool, dry air, more indoor heating along with changes in eating and exercise habits. Cold weather and especially cold winds in combination with the increased use of central heating has a dramatic drying effect on the skin. Just this week, my clients talked about how dry they felt their skin is already becoming.
One of the main purposes of our top layer of skin or the stratum corneum is to regulate water loss from the skin to the atmosphere. A healthy skin barrier consists of a finely-tuned balance of microbes and cells, proteins, and epidermal lipids that “glue” together. When this outer skin layer is disrupted by changing weather conditions it’s functioning is compromised resulting in trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), inflammatory chemicals are produced and the skin becomes more fragile and dehydrated.
Skin Conditions Resulting from being exposed to Cold Weather
Dry skin is a skin type. It occurs when the skin lacks oil and is due to decreased oil production. It is not cause by lack of hydration or water retention but is caused by not using a moisture that replenishes the natural oil and lipids of the skin. Dry skin can cause flaking skin which happens as skin cells flake off without the lipids that normally hold them in place.
Dehydrated skin is a skin condition. It occurs when the skin lacks moisture and water. Dehydrated skin lacks water due to external factors like dry weather. Thus, it’s more common in the winter due to the cold dry air, low humidity levels and dry furnace heat. As well as feeling uncomfortable, tight and possibly irritated -red and itchy, dehydrated skin looks dry and dull, and lines, wrinkles and pores became accentuated.
Cold air also narrows the skin’s pores and reduces blood circulation. This decreases the naturally occurring oil (sebum), which acts as a protective layer and traps moisture next to the skin. The resulting compromised barrier layer together with the lower air humidity during winter causes the skin to dehydrate.
It is possible that you can have both oily and dehydrated skin at the same time. To combat winter temperatures skin dehydration it is important to choose products that moisturize the skin but do not clog the oil glands and create acne.
Acne prone individuals may find their acne worsens due to winter skin care changes. This may be due to an imbalance of oil and water on the skin or due to lifestyle changes such as changes in diet and exercise during the winter months.
Low humidity, in particular, will aggravate or create new skin conditions. These conditions include:
Eczema - is a chronic skin inflammation causing cracked, dry, flaking, itchy read or scaly skin.
Psoriasis - A condition when skin cells are overproduced forming scaly patches and dry skin.
Rosacea - this condition can flare up by emotional changes such as depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and stress - all common this time of year. Though there is no way to eliminate rosacea, effective treatments can relieve the symptoms.
Seborrheic Dermatitis - Symptoms of this condition include itchy, flaky, peeling skin and severe dandruff. It worsens in the low humidity of winter and has cumulative effect as the increased shedding of skin cells results in even more water loss. Medicated shampoos are the best treatment for this condition.
How to care for your skin in cold temperatures
Use an oil base or creamy cleanser if you have normal or mature skin.
Add additional moisture to you skin with a serum or mist, then apply a thicker moisturizer to prevent moisture loss and protect your skin from the cold temperatures. I have many people change their moisturizer between summer and winter weather. Your moisturizer needs to work with your specific skin type and conditions. Here are some of my favorite moisturizers:
Longue Vie by Guinot - The 56 active ingredients in this cream help to rejuvenate, soften fine lines/wrinkles and heal damaged skin. Good for mature skin, all skin types and anti-aging.
Aquaporin by Circadia- Maintains and increases your skin's moisture with a burst of the latest, most effective hydrating agents. Good for normal and mature skin types.
Moisture on Demand by Circadia - A new concept in smart products. This lightweight serum provides hydration as needed while adjusting to the climatic conditions. Good for skin that is prone to break outs.
For normal skin, avoid over exfoliating. Pull back to exfoliating to only 2 times a week. Also reduce the number of times per week you use a cleansing brush. Too much exfoliation will irritate the outer layer of skin and destroy the integrity of its function.
Aim to use products with hyaluronic acid as it can draw moisture into the skin and help retain it. This ingredient is good for all skin types. I personally love the Hyaluronic Layering by Intraceutcials.
Hyaluronic Acid Layering Rejuvenate by Intraceuticals - Revive, replenish and protect your skin with this layering process that combines three specific combinations of Hyaluronic acids which work together to provide perfect hydrodynamic designed to deliver hydration and ingredients to the uppers layers of the skin.
Other tips to help your skin fight the cold air:
You may want to reduce the number of times per week you use a retinol product depending on its formulation.
Use a hydrating balm on your lips at night to prevent overnight dehydration.
Try a moisturizing mask at night once or twice a week. The concentrated ingredients in a mask will help maintain the proper functioning of the outer layer of your skin.
If you have normal or mature skin stay away from toners that reduce oil.
For normal or mature skin, use a hydrating toner in the morning versus cleansing your skin with a cleanser and water; water on the skin can be drying.
Refrain from fragranced products that may irritate skin. Don’t forget sunscreen - use it every day! Consider using a humidifier to increase humidity indoors. Refrain from long hot showers as they strip the oil, which protects our skin.
Exfoliate your body by dry brushing. Dry brush, jump in the shower, towel dry off and then apply a moisturizer. Jojoba oil or shea butter are wonderful to keep your body skin in great shape.
Don’t dress in clothing with a rough texture especially wool.
And, don’t forget about your lips and hands. Try to exfoliate each of these areas regularly and protect them with hyaluronic acid and conditioning oils. Protecting your lips morning and night is essential during the colder weather.
Supplements and eating to feed your skin in colder weather
Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. The body, including your skin, repairs and rejuvenates during sleep. If you are sleep deprived you have a greater chance of experiencing moisture loss and dehydrated skin.
A healthy diet with regular exercise can help to boost protection for your skin. Make exercise a priority as it improves systemic circulation, including the skin. The delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the surface of the skin boosts hydration and promotes beautiful glowing skin.
Drinks lots of water to keep hydrated as skin health depends on the nourishment receives from within.
Eat a healthy diet including one with essential fatty acids like avocados, salmon and good oils such as olive oil, grape-seed oil and avocado oil.
Eat the rainbow! Studies show that a colorful plant-based diet can make your skin look healthier. Beta carotene, the anti-oxidant responsible for giving red, orange and yellow fruit and vegetables their color is essential for skin health - try to eat sweet potatoes, pumpkins, carrots and squash. Anthocyanidins found in berries, plums, and red onions are responsible for giving them their red and purple color. Anthocyanidins support blood vessels health and the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the skin.
And don’t forget supplements as they can enrich your diet and protect your skin from cold air. Here’s some of the best ones:
Fish Oil - boosts Omega 3 levels and improves the skin’s natural barrier function. Great for dry skin.
Zinc - helps the body use of essential fatty acids better. Additionally helps regulate oil glands, which are important to keeping your skin smooth and plumb and to repair skin damage.
B-Complex - Supports skin health and is a healthy stress response in the body, which can have a positive impact on skin health.
Vitamin C - Stimulates collagen and helps protect our skin from ultraviolet rays. It also decreases the risk of dry skin, and promotes healthy skin conditions with the productions of lipids that can prevent water loss in the skin. Vitamin C also assists in the healing of minor body tissue injuries.
Remember, the main issues of the colder months are to protect your skin from wind and cold and prevent moisture loss. If you are not sure if your products are right, schedule a session of Ask the Esthetician. I will look at your skin, then your product ingredients and make recommendations on how to use them to keep your skin healthy this fall and winter.
Stay warm and stay safe!
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