Our skin is a water-containing barrier that protects us from our environment. The water content of the skin varies depending on gender, age and where on the body we’re looking at.
Because the skin is porous, water vapour is constantly lost through the skin via evaporation. Low humidity and windy environments – which is what we are exposed to in winter – accelerate this non-sweating water loss through the skin. Water loss is further hastened by direct heat that blows on the skin, which is what happens when we turn on heaters in the car and at home.
While dry skin looks and feels less than desirable, it also increases itchiness and flaking, and this can trigger eczema. Itching may also result in secondary infection in the skin. So aside from turning down the heater, what else can you do to avoid dry skin this winter? Here are our top skin care tips for maintaining healthy, hydrated skin.
Skin Care Tip 1 – Internal hydration
Dry skin typically experiences a breakdown of the skin barrier functions due to inflammation, as well as a build-up of dead skin cells. The number one solution is to keep skin well hydrated from the inside:
- Eat plenty of essential fatty acids (EFAs), particularly omega-3 and omega-6, which keep skin hydrated and clarified. A deficiency in both of these may result in dry, inflamed skin, whiteheads and blackheads. EFAs are important building blocks for the cell walls in our bodies, and assist in keeping skin moisturised, smooth and healthy. They also have anti-inflammatory effects and can relieve eczema symptoms. Good, delicious sources include oily fish, raw seeds, nuts, avocados, as well as supplements like pure fish oil, flaxseed oil and evening primrose oil.
- Avoid dehydration by drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water a day, and minimising your intake of caffeinated drinks and alcohol, which are dehydrating.
Skin Care Tip 2 – Topical relief
- Check your skin care regimen. Avoid creams or products that contain highly active ingredients, especially if your skin is itchy or flaky. Use a gentle cleanser that won’t strip the skin. Avoid soap and use soap-free wash instead – soap-free washes do the job of removing dirt but leave the body’s natural and much-needed oils behind. Soap-free washes also don’t contain strong alkaline solutions that are harsh on our skin. Swap your daily body lotion for oil, which seems to have better affinity with the skin, and is more effective at keeping skin moisturised.
- Moisturise at least once a day. Use a quality moisturiser that will dose the skin with lipids and reinforce its protective barrier. Choose fragrance-free products to avoid potential irritation. Using moisturiser two to three minutes after a shower will give the best results, and creams are more effective at hydration than lotions. If you have a greater tendency to develop dry skin, try applying moisturiser twice a day during winter.
- Use lip balm. Lips are also very prone to drying and cracking with winter winds and cold temperatures, and this can get very uncomfortable, and even painful. Instead of licking your lips or pulling off flaking skin, use lip balm as often as you can.
- Exfoliate weekly if possible. When skin is cold, it doesn’t function as well, and natural shedding slows down. This means that lotions and products become less effective, as the barrier of dead cells builds up and prevents absorption. Regular exfoliation will counteract the build-up of dead skin cells, and allow the skin to soak up all the wonderful moisture in the oils, lotions or creams that you apply.
- Follow exfoliation with a hydrating mask or facial, such as a collagen face mask, which will infuse the skin with moisture and help to sooth any itchiness, stinging or flaking.
Skin Care – Additional tips
- If you are prone to eczema, avoid wearing wool directly against your skin as this can irritate your skin, which can trigger eczema.
- If the skin on your hands is prone to drying out and cracking due to exposure to winter conditions, protect your hands with gloves. This will prevent the skin from cracking and drying. In addition, moisturise after each time you wash your hands, to replenish the lost moisture.
- Use a humidifier to replace the moisture lost from the air. If you’re in a warmer area, try placing a bowl of water in the corner of each room. This will put humidity back into the air, and ensure that your skin doesn’t dry out.
Try these skin care treatments
Facials are a fantastic way of rejuvenating and cleansing the skin and restoring hydration:
The Ripple organic green clay and cucumber facial is highly popular as it uses an oil rich clay high in minerals, suitable for even the most sensitive skin, and gently cleanses congested and problematic skin. The mask also nourishes the skin with macadamia oil and shea butter, leaving you feeling utterly rejuvenated. The one hour facial includes an amazingly relaxing head and face massage to relieve any tension or stress, guaranteed to make you feel lighter and very refreshed.
Experience instant results with this intensive treatment for fine lines and skin damage. The collagen hydrating mask infuses vital moisture and nourishment for full facial rejuvenation.
Smooth your skin with our handmade walnut, lime and tangerine exfoliation. Nourishing cream base, walnut shell to remove rough skin and lime and tangerine essential oil to detoxify and cleanse.
Finally, try to get enough sleep, avoid activities that dry out the skin further such as smoking or steaming your skin, and turn down the heater that’s blasting dehydrating air directly onto your skin.