December is coming and along with the month and Christmas and the holiday season, come cold, dry winds that can strip your skin of its moisture leaving it dry, itchy and irritated. Dry skin can not only lead to short term skin irritation and redness, but also promote skin ageing. Let’s read about a few tips and tricks to keep your skin as fresh and glowing as it is in spring.
Increase water intake: Moisture = water, and the skin is made of up to 64 per cent water, so it makes sense to up your daily water intake. But also include leafy vegetables and hydrating fruits.
Modify your diet: Certain foods and supplements such as fish oil and flaxseed oil, contain Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids can help nourish and moisturise the skin. Walnuts, avocados and olive oil are rich in oils that are good for the skin. Reduce diuretics such as alcohol, tea and coffee which cause water loss.
Use gentle cleansers: Harsh foaming cleansers strip the skin of its natural oils. Use a gentle formulation which will remove dirt while maintaining the skin’s moisture barrier. Try creamy body washes to bathe with.
Exfoliate: Exfoliation is necessary to remove dead skin cells which otherwise show up as dry white patches on the skin. Exfoliation exposes new skin and allows serums and moisturiser to better penetrate the skin. However, this does not mean that you should scour your skin with a harsh scrub. This can make things worse. Use a gentle glycolic acid or lactic acid exfoliant, which will gently lift off dead skin cells.
Switch up your serums: Be careful with retinol serums as they can cause extra dryness. Instead focus on skin repair. Antioxidant containing serums can help prevent skin damage like sun spots, fine lines, and collagen breakdown. Vitamin C is a great antioxidant, but don’t forget your SPF as vitamin C can make the skin more sensitive to UV damage.
Use moisturiser: This may seem obvious to you, but if you are still using light moisturisers and lotions that worked in summer, then this is clearly not going to be enough. Use a thicker oil-based moisturiser which will form a protective layer. Try to find a moisturiser with hyaluronic acid. This is a molecule which can attract up to one thousand water molecules to itself, so it is a powerful addition to a moisturiser.
Apply moisturiser right after a bath while the skin is still damp, so that the water gets sealed into the skin.
It might be helpful to layer on moisturisers if your skin gets particularly dry. Spritz on a hydrating, alcohol-free toner and apply a layer of water-based lotion and top off with a protective layer of oil-based cream to seal the moisture in. Reapply moisturiser throughout the day as needed. Night creams usually have a heavy moisturising effect, which might make them useful even in the day.
If your heels get dry and cracked, slather on a thick layer of heavy moisturising cream and pull on a pair of socks (silicon socks work great!).
Don’t forget to moisturise the lips! As the lips do not possess oil glands, the skin gets dry and chapped. Use a good chap stick with SPF to prevent this.
Find a good eye cream. As the under eye area gets dry quickly, it is necessary to add this product to your skin care routine.
Use sunscreen: The days may seem dull and gloomy but that doesn’t mean that one can skip sunscreen. The sun’s rays can still damage the skin and cause peeling, which is worsened by the cold, dry air.
Don’t have hot baths: It might be cold outside and you might want to relax in a piping hot bath. However, hot water is really bad for the skin as it results in loss of natural oils in the skin that form a moisture barrier, causing dry skin. Limit your bath time and bathe in warm water to prevent this.
Seek a doctor: If all else fails, and your skin still looks and feels dry and parched, visit a dermatologist who can analyse your skin and advise specific products to add to your skin care routine. You might need a prescription moisturiser for your skin type in the winter.
Just because it’s cold outside and the weather is dry, that doesn’t mean that your skin should be parched as well.
(Writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)