Is “Winter Skin” a real thing?
Yes. Yes, it is.
Dry skin, redness, tightness, irritation, and breakouts are common when the winter weather descends upon us. Understanding the causes of dry skin in the winter is important - so we can take practical steps to keep skin happier until the warmth and humidity of spring and summer arrive once again.
Here are the top reasons for winter skin.
Sudden changes in temperature are very confusing to your skin. Skin loves consistency and frequently changing products makes your skin very cranky! This is true for temperature, too. Our skin normally lives at a temperature of about 93-95° (and it likes it that way), so stepping out into freezing weather is a rude and unwelcome shock for your skin.
Cover up! You probably wear a coat, and hopefully you’ve got mittens and a hat to keep yourself cozy. But we don’t often think of covering up our faces. If you’re going to be outside when it’s brutally cold, wrap a warm scarf around your face to keep the shock factor more manageable. And if you’re going to be outside for a long period of time, wear a balaclava to protect your face.
There is less water in the air. This makes sense, right? When it’s 97° outside, more water turns to vapor, which makes the air more humid. When it’s freezing, water turns to ice, which only makes walking and driving a walk on the wild side!
Consider a humidifier in your home, especially in your bedroom. If you have a humid environment while you sleep, your skin (and lungs) will thank you!
If you don't have a humidifier (or even if you do and your skin still feels tight and itchy), put a big pot of water in your bedroom near a heat source (radiator, hot air vent, etc.) - to add more moisture in your bedroom air - you will be amazed how quickly it evaporates!
Indoor heat is dry. There are household heat humidification systems available, but they can be very expensive.
Humidify your home (see #2 above)! And a silk pillowcase absorbs less moisture and oil from your skin as you sleep—in case you’re feeling fancy. It also helps reduce bedhead! 😊
Long, hot showers feel sooo good—maybe a little too good. Hot water dries out the skin by extracting more of its natural oils, leaving your skin dry and parched. When skin gets dry, it doesn’t do its job as well, allowing more water to escape and more irritants to get in. This can trigger redness, inflammation, and even breakouts, as the skin tries to crank up sebum production to compensate for the lost oils.
No more hot showers. (Don’t kill the messenger!) Okay, how about nice warm showers most of the time, and a hot one when you need a special treat.
Also, moisturize from head-to-toe while you are still in the shower. I step out of the water stream, slather on body oil, wash my hands, turn the water off and pat dry. Good to go!
My fav body oil at the moment is a "cocktail" I make starring jojoba, argan, rosehip and avocado oils (among others) scented with vetiver and sweet orange essential oils. Great for the skin and the mind.
We tend to drink more coffee and tea when it’s cold outside. You know, because coffee and tea are hot, and we’re down-to-the-core freezing. The trouble happens when you lose track of how much caffeine you’re drinking - caffeine is a diuretic, which leaves you dehydrated, and dehydration shows up in your skin!
One or two caffeinated beverages a day is no problem, but sip on hot water or herbal tea after that. Hot water softens the digestive tract, making it easier for you to absorb the other liquids you drink throughout the day. Hibiscus tea is a great choice, too—it has loads of Vitamin C, which your skin needs for collagen synthesis.
Year-Round Skin Saving Tips:
- Consider a fatty acid supplement like evening primrose oil. It’s especially supportive to the skin as it’s very high in gamma-linoleic acid, which can help dry, flaky skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis.
- Get rid of sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate in everything—your laundry detergent, your shampoo, your toothpaste. It’s in most products that foam and is a skin irritant for a large percentage of the population.
- Eliminate synthetic fragrance in laundry, dish, and personal care products. Synthetic fragrances (that means anything but essential oils, often listed as “fragrance” or “parfum”) cause skin irritation for many people.
- Wash your face thoroughly every night. You should hit that silk pillowcase with clean skin every night, even if you just splash with water in the mornings.
- Stress management is a real part of any good skincare routine. For many of us, our skin is one of the first places where stress can take its toll, from breakouts to dark circles to dermatitis. If your skin starts misbehaving, ask yourself what’s changed, and whether you need to take a little extra time to address it.
Alicia and Karen