Winter is coming.
And with it, skin can turn into a white walker, with all the life sucked out of it. It’s pretty scary stuff.
Of course, it depends on where you live, but for a good amount of people, winter weather is cold and dry. Why do summers tend to be humid and winters dry?
Warm air has looser molecules which allow for water to accumulate, while cold air is more condensed than warm air—the molecules tighten close together and it can’t hold moisture the way warm air can. Which is why it’s so dang dry.
Meanwhile, all the moisture in our skin just evaporates as our bodies equalize with the environment around us. And if that wasn’t enough, we then go home to heaters—and guess what? The cold air wants to equalize there too, so it goes around sucking the moisture out of everything it can get its hands—errr…molecules—on!
Say good bye to nice, full skin. All that moisture is wicked away in no time.
Shower less often! Really. Water is drying for your skin and it’s frankly not necessary to shower as often as the cultural norm may have you believe. Every time you shower, you are stripping your skin of its protective oil barrier. This will lead to either dry, flaking skin or, alternatively, skin that tries to compensate for the constant assault to it’s oil reserves by over-producing oil. Which leads to oily skin. Not so cool, either way.
If you simply must shower daily, try to make it quick. Obviously, if you are going to the gym every day, you probably want to rinse off the sweat. Just keep it at a water rinse—and ditch the soap!
Soap strips oils and healthy bacteria from your skin. Our skin is pretty darn adept at balancing itself, but constantly stripping it is rough for this pretty organ. The point is to work with our skin, not against it. If you’re showering frequently, try to use just water for at least half your showers during the winter months.
Avoid HOT showers! This is super tough when it’s cold—a hot shower is a great comfort. But if water is drying, HOT water creates an absolute desert of your skin. You see, hot water opens up your pores, leaching all the healthy oils from deep within your skin. Try taking lukewarm showers instead. Or, if you absolutely can’t sacrifice the heat, try the next suggestion:
Oil before you shower. This sounds counter-intuitive to a lot of people. But it will leave your skin lush and clean. Why?
When you oil your body before you shower, you create a barrier between your skin and the water which prevents dehydration. When you get in the hot water and your pores open up, the oil will be the first thing your skin absorbs—not the drying water.
Furthermore, oil is cleansing, and will dissolve any hardened oils and grime in your pores, while the hot steam will drive the oil to penetrate your skin, nourishing you on a deep level. Pretty awesome.
Eat Oils & Fats: Ingesting healthy oils and fats will do wonders for all your organs, including your skin. Oils keep our joints lubricated and our skin supple. In addition to cooking with healthy oils, some foods that are rich in healthy fats include fish, nuts and avocado. Fish oil is a fantastic supplement for glowing skin and hair.
Drink Oils: This is weird for a lot of people, but drinking a tablespoon or so of oil every day can have incredible health benefits—not the least of which is plump, healthy skin that glows with an internal light.
Olive oil, for example, is rich in anti-oxidants which fight off premature aging and Vitamin E, which your hair, skin and nails absorb with pleasure. It’s also rich in a number of other vitamins that will keep you healthy. Mediterranean cultures swear by it, and it’s not so unusual to take a shot of olive oil every day in Greece.
Similarly, ghee (clarified butter) is traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine for a plethora of conditions, not the least of which is strong, healthy hair and supple skin—when consumed first thing in the morning.
You could also drink sesame oil or coconut oil. Begin small, just a teaspoon, and graduate up to a tablespoon—maybe even up to an ounce, eventually!
Apply Oils: Double up on the effectiveness of ingesting oils by applying them externally too. We mentioned above one awesome trick which is to oil before you shower! But you an oil any time you feel inspired.
Coconut oil can actually be drying, so best to avoid that one. Olive oil has a natural affinity for the skin molecules and absorbs beautifully. Sesame oil is warming, which is great for the cold winter months. Or if you’re skin is really dry, you may want something a bit thicker: try sumptuous cocoa or shea butter.
Find the oil that feels good for your skin—it will be different for everyone. If you don’t like oils on your skin, find a good moisturizer and indulge!
To sum it up: outside is cold and drying, and inside is warm and…drying. Seems hopeless, right? But there are strategies you can implement to fortify your skin for these brutal months.
Whatever your skin type, it’s a good idea to consider some adjustments to your skin care regime come the cold season. Skin winterizing strategies will be a bit different for every skin type, but there are some foundational strategies that stand for most everyone. We’ll look at the overall picture and then get into the specifics for your unique skin!
Drink water. Lot’s of water! It can be easy to forget how important this simple practice is when we aren’t sweating in the heat. It’s just as important to stay hydrated in the winter as it is in the summer! When you’re dehydrated, your skin becomes dehydrated too (all one organ, duh!). Drink water and not only will the hydration carry over to your skin, it will also help flush your body of toxins (which can help prevent acne!).
Sunscreen, all day, every day. Just cause it’s cold outside and the sun feels like a far smaller threat than in the summer months—it’s not. Those UVA rays are every bit as strong in the winter, and if there’s snow on the ground, they can be even more so, sine they reflect off the white and come at you from every direction.
PROTECT YOUR SKIN! Read our article here to learn about why sunscreen is one of the smartest things you can do for your skin if you want it to be healthy for life.
While the above is pretty useful for all skin, there are a few differences among skin types.
Dry skin and dry climate. Ouch. If you have super dry skin, the moisture barrier between your skin and the outside environment will be fairly fragile. The above suggestions will be especially valuable for you, to guard against unnecessary water loss.
Be careful not to exfoliate too often, if at all, as this can make your skin even drier and more fragile.
You’ll also want the right moisturizer, of course. Something that both absorbs into your skin, and provides a skin barrier to prevent further water loss. This article will help you pick the right moisturizer for your skin. Or skip straight to the Y’OUR Skin Quiz to get a skin care regime tailored specifically to your dry skin/dry weather needs!
Oily skin can be less oily in the winter, sine it will produce less sebum. The main thing to keep in mind is that you may not need to maintain the rigorous anti-oil regime of summer days.
While in general you want to avoid oil in your products (think oil-free moisturizer, oil-free makeup and oil-free facewash) in favor of water-based products, in the dry winter months, you might opt for a creamier facewash.
While you can exfoliate a couple times a week to remove excess oil, you definitely want to be careful not to over-exfoliate in winter months. It’s rough on the skin and can lead to rashes.
Be sure to apply moisturizer after every time you wash your face. Remember, oily skin is a reaction to being overly dry. Your skin is producing oil to compensate for a dearth of moisture content. So don’t hold out! Give your skin what it’s craving, especially in the dry winter months, and slap on that moisturizer!
Also, be sure to stay hydrated, as this can keep oiliness at bay.
Combo skin can be tricky, because you may have different needs on different parts of your face. If your T-zone is oily, you could exfoliate just this area, for example. If the area around your eyes is particularly dry, you may need a thicker eye cream.
Use gentle cleansers for the entire face, and don’t forget to tone. Toners are extra important for combo skin to remove any impurities from areas of the skin that the gentle cleanser wasn’t strong enough for. It also keeps your pH balanced and shrinks pores.
Don’t use a heavy cream, to accommodate your oily skin parts, but make sure you’re using a moisturizer that is effective enough to make a difference to your dried skin bits! If this seems confusing, take the Skin Quiz to get specific products tailored to your skin’s particular needs.
Sensitive skin, like dry skin, will need extra protection against the harsh winter conditions. Use skin barrier moisturizers to protect it from the elements.
Avoid exfoliating, as this will tear the already compromised skin barrier, causing microtears. If you must, use a really gentle exfoliator and don’t scrub with rigor—gentle please!
To get your personalized skin care routine, take the Skin Quiz here.
Because acne products can be harsh, using them in during the harsh winter season can lead to skin that is extra flaky, itchy and dry. As a result, you may need to cut back on acne medications for the winter duration.
Try switching it up. For example, some acne ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are especially drying. Consider using a cleanser without these drying ingredients this winter to avoid stressing your skin.
You could also switch up your cleanser: if you use a strong cleanser that leaves your skin feeling tight and dry after washing, find something more moisturizing so you reserve some of those skin protecting oils that preserve the barrier between your skin and the environment.
You could also try to wash your face less often—maybe just a splash in the morning. The point here is to do whatever you can to minimize the compounding effects of lots of skin drying behavior in conjunction with a skin drying environment and skin drying acne medications. And that brings us to the last thing:
Moisturize!!! Sometimes acne prone folks shirk the moisturizer, but it’s essential. You still want to feed your skin and protect it—just use a moisturizer that doesn’t clog pores. Your acne medications can go over the moisturizer.
If you want more personalized help figuring out how to care for your skin this winter, take the Skin Quiz at Y’OUR to get a personalized skin care regime formatted especially for your unique skin!