Baby, it’s cold outside. And what’s worse, for your skin at least, it’s warm inside. Add going cold turkey on meat/dairy/sugar/alcohol/all of the above, and it’s probably safe to assume that right now your skin is having a meltdown of one kind or another, be it flaky, dry and red, or unexpected breakouts.
If your default is to simply reach for a thicker moisturiser or an alcohol-heavy toner to fight the flakes and blemishes, perhaps it’s time to switch things up a bit.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
If your skin is looking or feeling particularly dry at this time of year, the chances are that it is dehydrated. This is not the same thing as dry skin. Dry skin is lacking in oil – it’s a skin ‘type’. Dehydrated skin is lacking in water – it’s is a skin ‘condition’ and the first step to treating it is to drink up!
We’re much less prone to guzzle down litres of water in cold weather, and as a result, our skin, which is the last organ to reap the benefits of hydration, is the first organ to suffer. The combination of cold wind and over-enthusiastic central heating will take a toll on your skin, so get yourself a fancy water bottle for your desk, and try to drink as much as possible throughout the day.
If you’re not already using an oil-based cleanser, now is the time to give them a try. Rather than fighting with or stripping your skin of it’s oil-producing abilities, oils have the ability to lift grime and make up from your skin, leaving it clean without drying it out.
Not all oils are created equal however, and while mineral or petroluem-based oils can be far more effective than most of their natural counterparts at removing make up, they are also mildly ‘comedogenic’, which means they can clog pores and increase the risk of breakouts, depending on how refined the oils are. I’ve never had a problem with mineral oil cleansers, and my skin is moderately sensitive, but I do know folks who have. There is also the environmental impact of petroleum-based products, so you may decide to avoid them.
Depending on exactly what I’m washing off (lashings of stubborn mascara or just a day’s general city grime) my current favourites are Vichy Purete Thermale Micellar Oil Cleanser (contains mineral oil), Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil (no mineral oil), and new kid on the block, Lixirskin Electrogel Cleanser (no mineral oil), which is a cream cleanser that uses a very small negatively charged electrogel to attract and rid skin of positively charged toxins.
Slough it off
Both physical and chemical exfoliants have their place and depending on your skin’s sensitivity. While chemical exfoliation may sound the more drastic of the two, it’s actually the better option for those with sensitive skin. If, like me, you’re using a good old fashioned flannel to rinse off your cleanser (the less said about flimsy muslin squares the better), then you’re already reaping the benefits of a gentle exfoliation. I add to this by using Dermalogica Daily Superfoliant once or twice a week, and it seems to be just the right amount of physical exfoliation for my rosacea-prone skin.
Chemical exfoliants come in a multitude of formulas and strengths, from beauty editor’s favourite, Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads, to glow-inducing tonics like Pixi Glow Tonic and Kiehl’s Iris Extract Activating Treatment Essence (which also includes the skin-loving humectant sodium hyaluronate), and exfoliating masks such as Tata Harper’s Resurfacing Mask. The key thing to remember if you choose to use chemical exfoliants is that they increase your skin’s photosensitivity, so you’ll need to up your SPF game. But then you’re already wearing an SPF everyday anyway, right?!
Keep your skin’s moisture levels topped up with skin care ingredient du jour, hyaluronic acid (AKA, sodium hyaluronate). Found in serums or as a pure ingredient, hyaluronic acid is a powerful humectant, capable of holding large volumes of water on the skin’s surface, creating a soothing and lubricating barrier. One of the most popular new products to hit the market comes from The Ordinary, a sell-out brand which delivers single ingredient, no-nonsense products at a fraction of the price of most best-sellers. Their 2% Hyaluroic Acid is a personal favourite (I’m already on my 4th bottle), and I mist my face immediately after applying with a facial mist such as Vichy Mineralizing Thermal Spray, Bobbi Brown Face Mist or Mario Badescu Facial Spray.
Lock it in
The temptation to slather your skin with a thicker moisturiser at this time of year can be all too powerful, but for some skin types this will simply lead to more breakouts or congested skin which is struggling to cope with the thicker and richer products.
If you have sensitive skin, try mixing a few drops of face oil in with your usual moisturiser to up the power of your moisturiser without overloading your skin. Try The Ordinary Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil, or treat yourself to Rodin’s cult Olio Lusso Geranium & Orange Blossom Face Oil, mixed in to Lixirskin Universal Emulsion which is fantastically lightweight but effective.
Lastly, for the ultimate in winter skin treats at a bargain price, apply a generous layer of Weleda Skin Food and leave for 10 minutes or longer before gently removing any excess with a warm face cloth. It’s every make up artist and beauty editor’s secret and aside from smelling divine, it’s rich in lanolin and calendula, making it incredibly hydrating and soothing. It’s also the perfect in-flight treatment for hands, feet and face, making it a year-round essential.
I’d love to know if there are any killer brands or products that you swear by to keep your skin in good shape throughout these colder months?
Wishing you a flake-free and rosy glow of a winter! x