Every winter, my skin feels drier and flakier, partly due to all the scalding hot baths and showers I take. So it’s always a relief to hear that there’s another reason for this seasonal skin distress.
“Ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids are proportionally lower in winter,” says Dr Shyamalar Gunatheesan, Founding Dermatologist of ODE Transformative Dermatology, which opens in Fitzroy, Melbourne next month. “This affects barrier function, water retention and desquamation [how our cells turn over].”
But there are ways to rescue and restore skin’s radiance in winter, from upping your intake of zinc to using nourishing oils to seal in moisture. And all these ways are surprisingly simple to follow.
Step 1: Wash wisely
One of the most common winter skin mistakes, according to Dr Gunatheesan, are long hot showers (and baths) that “impair the skin barrier and disrupt the acid mantle or microbiome.”
If you can’t give up a good soak, update your cleanser for winter by choosing a formula that’s rich in ceramides and lipids, or use a cleaning oil balm. I’ve been using Emma Lewisham’s Illuminating Oil Cleanser and Aveda’s Purifying Crème Cleanser lately.
Another tip from Dr Gunatheesan? Pat yourself dry after a shower and apply moisturiser within 60 seconds, while your skin is still slightly damp.
Step 2: Lock in moisture
Yes, we know the benefits of moisturising – particularly as you get older – but in winter it’s importance is worth repeating. “Moisturiser shields and protects your skin from the weather, chemicals and environmental irritants,” says Emma Hobson, Dermalogica’s Director of Education.
As the temperature falls, choose creams – rather than lotions or gels – like the iconic La Mer Crème De La Mer. (It’s pricey but really good). Look for creams that include vitamins A,C,E; Panthenol (B5); Evening Primrose oil; shea butter ;and jojoba oil to help strengthen and protect your skin. And don’t forget to nourish your hands and lips, too. Try: Burt’s Bees Overnight Intensive Lip Treatment or Givenchy’s Le Rouge Lip Balm, and Ecoya Guava & Lychee Handcream.
Step 3: Increase your zinc
Zinc as an essential mineral for healing the skin, especially during winter, says nutritionist and founder of Alg Seaweed, Sarah Leung. It helps boost the immune system and is useful in treating skin conditions such as eczema and acne. You’ll find it in seaweed (Leung recommends sprinkling her Alg Seaweed Rainbow Seaweed Salt, $9.95 on your avo toast!), red meat and legumes like chickpeas and lentils.
Other foods to include more frequently in your winter diet are oily fish, raw nuts and seeds, flaxseed and chia seed – as well as antioxidant-rich foods like berries, dark green vegetables, fresh herbs and green tea. Not chocolate.
Step 4: Use an oil
“Plant oils are a great go-to product during winter months,” suggests Hobson. A topical oil works as an emollient, softening, protecting and moisturising the skin. For a dewy winter glow with long-term results pat two-to-three drops of Dermalogica’s Phyto-Replenishing Oil to your face underneath your moisturiser and SPF. I also love Tanologist Gradual Oil Overnight Treatment for a golden faux-glow.
Step 5: Apply an overnight mask
A rich night cream is a must during winter, but try taking it a step further with a sleep mask, which creates a seal on the top of your skin, so anything underneath can penetrate better.
You can apply other hydrators (serums, oils) first, then coat all of that with a thick layer of mask (sleep specific or regular). Try: Dr Gunatheesan’s pick, Rationale No 1 Mask (packed full of electrolytes, calming Vitamin B3 and amino acids), or Sulwhasoo Overnight Vitalizing Mask, which feels extra thick (in a good way) and cooling on the skin.