Five ways to combat dry skin in winter


Alongside the joys of the of the new year, winter brings with it a multitude of beauty problems.

As well as contending with frizzy hair and brittle nails, our skin suddenly feels bone dry and starts to flake in annoying places.

“Most people’s skin gets drier and more sensitive in the winter months,” says Dr Catharine Denning, dermatologist ambassador at Japanese skincare brand Curél.

“When the temperature outside starts to drop, so does the humidity and the air becomes dryer.

“To make things worse we crank up the radiators to stay warm inside, drying out those environments too.”

It’s a recipe for a less than glowing complexion, caused because the uppermost layer of skin cells, the stratum corneum, is affected by the cold.

“The stratum corneum acts like your skin’s shield protecting what’s inside, while keeping out environmental elements,” Dr Denning explains.

“With the changes that come with winter weather, our stratum corneum starts to dry out, opening up the skin’s natural barrier.

“When the barrier function is compromised, more moisture leaks out from its surface, further drying out the skin.”

“Plus, people often find when their skin becomes dry it is itchy and end up scratching, further compromising the barrier function,” she adds.

It’s a vicious cycle, but one that you can put a stop to, if you know what to do.

Here, Dr Denning shares her top tips to remedy dry winter skin…

1. Don’t overheat in the shower

A long hot shower may be tempting on a cold night, but that’s the last thing your skin wants.

“Cool down and shorten your showers to avoid more moisture evaporating from the skin.

It helps to moisturise immediately after with a thicker moisturiser.

2. Exfoliate gently

While exfoliating skin that’s already dry might seem counter-intuitive, you need to gently dislodge those dead skin cells to leave a smooth surface.

“Look for ingredients such as lactic acid in cleansers and moisturisers.

“This exfoliates the loose dry skin cells as well as hydrating at the same time.”

3. Boost your barrier function

It is important to replace some of the hydrolipid barrier that is diminished when the weather cools down.

4. Say no to alcohol

Dr Denning isn’t saying you have to quit booze during winter (although drinking plenty of water is advisable at any time of year, of course) she’s talking about the ingredients in your face cream.

“Choose moisturisers that have cetyl (rather than ethyl or isopropyl) alcohols or lanolin as they’re kinder, lipid based alcohols and are more hydrating.”

5. Consider a humidifier

Does your skin feel particularly dry first thing in the morning? There may be a reason for that.

“If you’re waking up feeling dry then it might be worth investing in an air humidifier to help increase your bedroom air moisture levels and stop your skin drying out overnight.”

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