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How to beat winter weather skin

Follow these simple steps to protect your skin from harsh winter weather, by Milly Nolan in MiNDFOOD.

How to beat winter weather skin

During the winter months, as the temperature outside drops and the heat inside rises, your skin is put under serious assault.

Combine these conflicting temperatures with low humidity, heavy clothing and hot showers and baths, and your skin is left feeling dry, tight and itchy as moisture is literally sucked from your pores.

While I love winter for the fashion, cosy nights in front of the fire, and endless movie-watching, I dread its affect on my skin – chapped lips, red nose, cracked hands and every wrinkle on my face seems to be more pronounced due to dehydration.

Just as we take precautions to protect our skin in the summer, we should also prepare our skin sensibly for the harsh winter weather. Rather than slathering on lotion and hoping for the best, there are more effective ways to prevent and combat winter skin.

How to winterproof your skin:

Wash less

By washing your face and showering too often, you are stripping your skin of its protective layer of oil, causing it to become dry and irritable. Try cutting down on the amount of showers you have and cleanse your face just once a day, preferably at night, to remove dirt, impurities, and make-up.

Use lukewarm water

Hot water removes natural oils from the skin so it is best to use lukewarm water to wash or shower. If you prefer baths to showers, add colloidal oatmeal, which is moisturising, soothing, and particularly helpful if your skin is chapped.

Replenish your skin with moisturiser

Moisturise your face and body at least twice a day and immediately after a bath or shower while your skin is still wet. Putting on a cream, ointment or lotion helps trap the water in the upper layers of the skin and decreases dryness and itching.

The drier your skin, the thicker the lotion should be. As a general rule anything out of a jar is going to be more moisturising than something out of a pouring-bottle.

For rough patches and problem areas, such as heels and elbows, dab petroleum jelly on them to seal in moisture.

Adjust your skincare regime

During the cold months, use a heavier moisturiser than normal and avoid facial toners and astringents as alcohol dries out the skin. Cleansing with harsh soaps can also strip lipids from the skin and increase water loss, so use them sparingly.

Be careful to not overuse products containing alpha-hydroxy acids as although they exfoliate the top layer of the skin (which is good for dry skin) they also leave the new layer of skin unprotected.

Prevent chapped lips with wax-based products like lipstick and lip balm to provide moisture and wind protection.

Heal while you sleep

I know you may look and feel a bit odd, but wearing cotton gloves and socks over moisturised hands and feet really does heal very dry skin. For best results, dampen your hands and feet first and then apply a rich ointment.

Protect yourself

Before heading out, make sure you cover exposed skin with gloves, scarves and hats. For your face; sunscreen, make-up and moisturisers will all provide protective armour against the harsh elements.

No matter what the season, it is essential that you wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher on your face, hands and any other areas of the skin that may be exposed, to protect your skin against harmful ultraviolet rays. Wearing sunscreen is especially important in the snow as the sun’s reflective powers are so great.

Using a tretinoin-containing product, such as Retin-A, increases the risk of sunburn, so sunscreen is also vital.

Next time I’ll give you some recommendations on what moisturisers to use for your face and body this winter. But if you have any specific questions on how look after your skin during the cold weather please don’t hesitate to ask.

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