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Winter is arguably the best time of the year — cozy vibes, cute sweaters and steaming mugs of hot chocolate.
The cold weather, however, may not be the best for your skin. The lack of sweat-provoking humidity can feel snug and comfortable, but it risks throwing your complexion into a state of chaos. Cooler temperatures can exacerbate excessive dryness, itchiness, sensitivity and skin conditions such as rosacea and eczema.
Try these simple swaps and skincare tips in winter to enjoy the season without complaints from your complexion.
Winter brings frigid winds, dry air, lower humidity and indoor heating — all of which suck out moisture from the skin and strip it of natural oils. This not only leaves skin feeling dry, itchy and sensitive, but it also weakens the natural barrier. Skin then becomes more vulnerable to environmental toxins and bacteria, which can in turn lead to infections, inflammation and irritation.
However, skin that's struggling to maintain its equilibrium just needs a little extra help from you to feel comfortable again.
Combat winter's dryness by preventing your complexion from becoming dehydrated in the first place — for instance, by swapping out lighter summer lotions for a heavier moisturizing cream.
Your ideal winter moisturizer should be a blend of humectants such as glycerin, which attracts water to the skin; emollients like colloidal oatmeal, shea butter and dimethicone, which soften the skin; and occlusives such as beeswax, mineral oil or silicone, which form a layer of oil and waxes on the skin to create a barrier against moisture loss.
Using a humidifier is an effective way to counter low humidity levels (and hence drier skin) within your house. Ideally, you'd have a humidifier in every room.
It can seem feasible to skip exfoliation in winter, in the mistaken belief that it will further dry out the skin. On the contrary, gentle exfoliation helps remove dead skin cells and flaky patches, while also helping your moisturizer absorb better. What you need to avoid is over-exfoliation, which can disrupt the skin's outermost layers, leading to dryness and irritation. Opt for a gentle exfoliator such as Neutrogena®Hydro Boost Daily Gel Cream Exfoliating Cleanser with Hyaluronic Acid once a week.
It's a fallacy that sunscreens are not a winter skincare necessity. Up to 80% of the sun's rays still penetrate your skin even on cloudy, chilly days, which means sunscreen is still necessary during this time of year. In fact, it's vital to protect your skin in winters as sun damage can further lead to dryness, irritation and a damaged skin barrier.
What you eat is intrinsically tied up with your skin health. And in winter, this means you need more healthy fats that boost the skin's lipid layer and help moisturize skin from the inside out. Think: avocado, nuts, seeds, fish and vegetable oils.
The cardinal rule of winter skincare is to add in lost hydration and oils to your complexion. So, look out for products that contain hyaluronic acid, glycerin, squalene, ceramides, and fatty acids (like omega 3 and 6).
Just like you layer clothing to keep warm in cooler months, your skin needs the same to prevent dryness and dehydration. It's recommended that you start with a humectant serum, followed by a moisturizer, finished off by a facial oil on top to seal in all the goodness.