A dermatologist's take on winter's most common skin concerns from dryness, rashes and eczema to UV damage and recommendations for preventing and alleviating them.
Skincare for both face and body can become a challenge in winter due to dryness, irritation and itchiness. In this episode of the Winter Skincare mini-series, we'll discover the most common skin conditions in winter and how to prevent and alleviate them.
Spending time understanding the root causes and signs of change in your skin during winter will provide much insight into how to effectively care for your skin to offset some of the issues faced. In addition, learn how to spot which ingredients in your products help during the colder season and adapt your simple skincare routine to fight the most common issues caused by the environment.
First and foremost, with the winter season comes dryness. When the weather becomes dry and windy, it triggers eczema, dermatitis (inflamed skin), psoriasis flare-ups, rashes and different skin irritations. In addition, the colder it gets, the lower the humidity levels become, which causes the moisture from the air to evaporate. Skin is therefore left with little to no humidity and quickly becomes dehydrated.
The signs of skin dehydration are lack of elasticity, rough texture, visible pores, an impaired skin barrier, stinging or burning sensation. Whenever you experience these symptoms, you know it is time to nourish, protect, and repair your skin.
Keep your skin's hydration level up! During the winter months, it is vital to make moisturising an everyday habit. Think of it this way, each time you wash your hands, follow up with a moisturising lotion. Choose a lightweight and fast-absorbing product to avoid the uncomfortable feeling of greasy hands.
Green Angel's Seaweed Hand Lotion with lavender, mandarin and neroli essential oils nourishes your hands and keeps them super soft. Perfect to pair with the Green Angel's Seaweed Hand Wash with a gentle formula to help hydrate your hands every time you wash.
After each bath or shower, moisturise your body with a product containing winter-friendly ingredients such as essential oils, seaweed, ceramides, Aloe vera, or glycerine. Apply moisturisers while your skin is still damp to maximise the hydrating effect. Green Angel has a range of products, from body lotions and creams to oils, to suit every need in the cold season.
Constant nourishment is essential after cleansing your face. Even in winter, maintain a simple routine focused on moisturising products. After washing your face, use a mild toner, followed by a serum to address specific concerns, a moisturiser to lock in hydration and top up with an SPF product for UV protection.
Dermatologists use the term "winter rash" to describe a general diagnosis of skin when it becomes irritated, flaky, cracked, or itchy due to winter's dry and cold air.
Moisturising creams and emollients are often the first lines of defence against a winter rash. They help lock in moisture and act as a barrier against harmful environmental stressors. The best way to apply a moisturiser is several times a day and after bathing on damp skin.
Petroleum is the most researched and well-known ingredient for dehydrated skin, with huge benefits and positive outcomes for patients. But if you don't like using petroleum jelly, consider trying natural oil-based products, which also prevent water loss very well. For example, jojoba, argan, neroli and coconut oil help soothe irritated skin and replenish moisture.
Eczema is a dermatological condition that makes your skin red, inflamed and itchy. It's common in children but can occur at any age. Eczema or dermatitis is long-lasting and flares up periodically, especially in the winter season. While the exact cause of eczema is unknown, a combination of genes and environmental triggers like wind, cold weather or stress may contribute to flare-ups.
Moisturise your skin daily with a thick, creamy, nourishing balm. Oat is an excellent ingredient for eczema-prone skin. Add finely ground oats to your warm bath and soak in it for about 10-15 minutes to relieve itchiness and stinging sensation. However, if the water is too hot, it can lead to dehydration and redness.
Your winter skincare routine for the face and body must seek to exclude ingredients that will dry out your skin further (no alcohol or sulphates!). Instead, use moisturising, fragrance-free soaps with hydrating compounds like glycerine, shea butter, seaweed, or natural oils. For more advanced skin treatments, visit your dermatologist.
Don't forget to apply sunscreen the same way you do in summer. Sun protection is non-negotiable regardless of the season. For example, sunburns in winter are very common and painful because of the harsh temperatures and wind. Find more about how to correctly practice sun safety in our article "What is Sun Protection Factor?" from the Skinimalism mini-series.
UVB rays are the high-energy rays that penetrate and burn the superficial layers of your skin. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the dermis and cause damage to your structural collagen. You need to know that UVA rays are present every day and powerful enough to penetrate clouds and even glass. If you work indoors, but near a window, your skin is still exposed to the damaging UVA rays. UVA rays age your skin, and you will notice the appearance of dark spots and fine lines.
Use a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or 50 every time you go out. In addition, have an SPF 50 cream and lip balm on your next skiing trip. Sun damage is cumulative, and often the most significant UV exposure happens in winter when we think there is no need to use sunscreen.
It is common to have chapped or cracked lips during winter because of the harsh weather conditions. Sometimes bruises or bleeding may occur due to continuous damage to the top layer of the lip.
Apply soothing and repairing products with high levels of hydrating compounds like glycerine, nutrient-rich oils and Vitamin E. You can gently exfoliate your lips with a sugary scrub to soften and prepare them for treatment.
Most winter skin problems improve with easy lifestyle changes, at-home remedies, and over-the-counter treatments. Unfortunately, others persist or get worse. It is crucial to avoid scratching the skin as it can cause cracks and bleeding, giving bacteria the perfect environment to thrive. Always contact your doctor when you experience severe symptoms.
Practising the recommendations in this article will minimise the risk of dry patches, skin inflammation, redness, and irritation. Furthermore, check out our previous article about how winter skincare differs from summer skincare and which products to add to your routine.
With skin being drier in winter, special measures must be taken to provide healthy, supple skin. In the next episode of the Winter Skincare mini-series, we examine procedures and treatments to take advantage of during the colder months. Use #DHWinterSkincare for products and ideas to incorporate into your routine.
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