Along with shorter days and fearsome forecasts, the arrival of winter weather often brings less-than-favourable changes to your skin. Unfortunately, winter dry skin is an annual beauty event that manifests in many forms such as itching and flaking and rough, inflamed skin. But it’s not just the onslaught of cold weather that’s to blame; the drier climate and indoor heat also play a huge role in zapping moisture from your skin. The worst part? It often comes with added sensitivity and irritation and, in some cases, can trigger eczema flare-ups.
Now for the good news: With the right winter skincare routine and a few key changes to your habits and products, you can help keep skin soft, hydrated, and supple rather than cracked, parched, and chapped.
Why does skin get bad in winter?
As temperatures drop from coast to coast to coast, dryness and dullness become the reality, making a glowy complexion a distant memory. You might be asking yourself “Why does my skin get bad in winter?” But before you can learn how to avoid dry skin in winter, you need to understand why it happens—and it’s not just one reason; it’s a domino effect.
The impact of changing temperatures and moisture has been well documented. In the winter, humidity levels tank; this lack of moisture in the environment dries out skin, partly because there’s no moisture in the atmosphere to absorb but also because the air itself is trying to regain that humidity—and since we, as humans, are made up of 70% water, that means it’s stealing it from us.
Another factor that can greatly contribute to dry winter skin is a damaged skin barrier. A well-functioning skin barrier is your first line of defense against water loss and environmental aggressors, but it must remain well hydrated to be effective, and seasonal temperature dips are one of the biggest disruptors to its delicate balance. A 2018 study published in the British Journal of Dermatology offers insight as to why skin changes from season to season. The study says that what it largely comes down to is filaggrin—a protein that plays an architectural role in your skin barrier. Dry air can essentially shrink and cause your filaggrin stores to degrade, which leads to that dry, scaly texture.
Other disruptors? Central heating, wintry winds, and sub-zero temperatures. In the cold, your skin attempts to conserve heat by constricting blood vessels, which, in turn, dries out the outer layers of your skin. Finally, aging skin can be affected even worse because as we grow older, our skin gets thinner and we produce less oil.
How to avoid dry skin in the winter
It doesn’t matter what skin type you have; dry skin is coming for you. (Even oily complexions can get it!) Wondering how to keep your skin hydrated during winter? Here are some activities and products you should avoid to help keep your skin happy and hydrated all winter long.
- Don’t take long, hot showers
When winter’s chill sets in, it’s only natural to want to indulge in long, hot, steamy showers or baths—but not so fast. Hot water is your skin’s enemy number one in winter; it can increase the evaporation of your skin’s natural hydration. You also need to restrict your bath (or shower) times. It’s recommended that you keep them to between five and 10 minutes a day—any longer and you run the risk of stripping the oil from your skin.
- Avoid harsh cleansers
What type of cleanser you use can have a major impact on your skin, especially in winter. If you opt for gel or foaming cleansers because they leave your skin feeling squeaky clean, you should consider one that’s a little more hydrating. If you have oily skin, try micellar water; if your skin type is dry, opt for a cleansing lotion or oil.
- Exfoliate with caution
Using an exfoliator is extremely satisfying when it banishes dead skin cells, revealing a brighter complexion. But come winter, you need to avoid using physical exfoliants because the granular versions can cause micro-tears in your skin that act as little openings for bacteria to get in. Instead, look for a gentler but ultra-effective chemical exfoliant to sweep away dead skin cells. Want to know how to have glowing skin in winter? Add an exfoliator with skin-brightening alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) to your routine a few times a week.
PRODUCTS FOR HYDRATED SKIN
How to take care of dry skin in winter
The onset of winter has already caused your skin to feel tight, dull and all-around stressed and you want to know how to treat dry, itchy winter skin? These small tweaks to your routine will deliver a big impact.
- Change to a thicker moisturizer
The best lotion for winter dry skin isn’t a lotion at all; it’s a rich moisturizing cream. But what if you have acne-prone skin? The best moisturizer for winter oily skin — or any other skin type, for that matter—can be found in the Vichy Aqualia Thermal range. It has several formulation options and is effective at nourishing the skin while locking in hydration. Hyaluronic acid is a key ingredient, as are glycerin and mannose—a sugar that functions as a humectant.
- Humidify your home
We know that the drier the air, the drier the skin, but an easy fix is to introduce more moisture in the air with a humidifier. Keep it in the bedroom because it’s where you spend most of your time at home. Don’t go to sleep without one!
- Add an extra layer to your skincare routine
If there was ever a time to get serious about hydrating and moisturizing, it’s now. Start with a hydrating serum packed with hyaluronic acid, which can help increase moisturization. Then, apply a nourishing cream to seal in moisturizing ingredients and help them adhere for the long term and intensify the protection.