It’s that time of year again kids, where you summer hue is slowly fading and you find your face being bashed by hail on the walk to work. Fear not! I’m here to guide you through, giving you all the facts you need to keep your complexion rosy and clear through these Winter months.
Ok ok, I hear ya, why listen to some blogger on the internet? right? Well, I’m a 23 year old girl who has a severe addiction to lotions and potions. I’ve tried many MANY products, I love to try new things on the market… Hell I spend my lunch hour trawling department store makeup and skincare areas with wide eyes! I’m also fascinated with the way products work, and how our skin reacts to different products in different climates. Along with this, I understand how important diet is for your skin, hair and nails. With my own consumer knowledge I’ll be researching into different health & beauty areas, writing clear concise reviews and tips and including some great links to supporting articles that make all the difference. Mainly, I’m researching for my own benefit and putting it all down in one place, hopefully my readers can also gain some vital info from this too :)
For simplicity, this article will be broken down into 5 sections…
- Cleansers – Choosing the best cleanser for winter skin. For best results, a biweekly scrub will also be included. Keep your skin buff!
- Toners – We mustn’t forget about out pores!
- Moisturiser – With an onslaught of central heating, cold winds and rain it’s important to keep skin moisture topped up.
- Extras – We all like pampering, so why not choose a mask that will keep your winter skin in top condition? What about night moisturisers? Any special serums that could help rejuvenate your winter skin?
- Nutritional Additions – Not specifically just for Winter skin, but what can you eat & drink to improve your dermis? Should you be taking a few extra supplements during the winter months?
First things first, keeping your skin clean is the starting point for great skincare. You should wash morning and evening, as we all know, but choosing which cleanser to use depends on skin type/age etc. There are a few ‘golden winter rules’ that transcend all of those factors and will help in the battle against winter dry spots.
- Avoid using over warm water when washing your skin, hot water will draw moisture from the skin and dehydrate you faster than ever… especially in winter! stick to luke warm water.
- Don’t forget, there are a bunch of great no-water cleansers out there that will be *perfect* for this time of year. I can thoroughly recommend clarins’ cleansing milk. Using a cleanser like this in the mornings in place of your regular face wash will help keep your skin comfortable throughout the day without stripping you of moisture.
- If you don’t already use one now is the time to introduce an exfoliating scrub into your cleansing routine. I prefer to use a facial scrub twice a week in place of my regular facewash. I also find that using the scrub whilst in the shower proves a lot less messy than attempting to keep it out of your hairline whilst over the sink! I’m currently using body shops seaweed facial scrub, specifically for it’s purifying properties. However, as winter draws on I will probably invest in some of Lush’s amazing Angels on bare skin. This is a super exfoliating cleanser that contains lavender oil, a great addition that will soothe and moisturise any angry skin areas. Please remember though, only use your scrub sparingly once or twice a week. Winter skin can be very delicate so doesn’t need scrubbing off entirely!
- Never ever ever ever ever use regular soap on your face, it’s far too harsh and will tighten your skin right up. Always use a cleanser made specifically for facial use, but remember to avoid the delicate skin around the eye area!
If you do have a dedicated set of skin care products (clinique, clarins, lush etc) one of the best things you can do is go and ask the advice of the counter representatives. If you know the products they provide work for your skin type, why change? They might, however, be able to recommend to you an addition/change of product that would benefit your winter regime.
Generally a good skincare routine will consist of cleanser/toner/moisturiser. Toners are a watery product specifically made for:
- removing all traces of cleansing products.
- contribute towards shrinking pores by ‘dissolving’ deep set dirt (gross!).
- refreshes the skin and adjusts the pH level after using a cleanser.
There’s a lot of stuff out that relating to whether toners are actually necessary or not, the jury’s still out on that one. Personally, I think that after using a toner on my skin it feels less tight, much softer and freshened. I currently use a clarins toner, which I must say is slowly becoming one of my firm favourites. It contains no alcohol so it’s a lot less harsh than many of the toners available. This is an especially good factor for winter skin as it won’t withdraw moisture like an alcohol based toner would. A good rule of thumb for a winter toner is to find one that uses less chemicals than others, go for brands that you know use natural ingredients in their products and steer away from harsh chemical filled products. A good indicator for toners is the smell, go for something with a natural smell that’s not akin to vodka!
Please bare in mind that you *should* pick a toner made by the same manufacturer as your cleanser and moisturiser. This avoids any worry about combining products that may cause an unwanted chemical reactive together, which would be a bit of a disaster on the skin! If you desperately want to add a product from another range into your regime, start by just doing a patch test in one area behind your ear for a week alongside your other products. If this proves to work out ok then you should cautiously use it on the rest of the face. Remember though, your skin can take a while to react to new products (even a month sometimes!). Anyway, this is what I’d do to introduce a new product… but I obviously live for the danger ;)
Lush’s tea tree water is great for this time of year.
Moisturising is possibly the most important part of the winter skin care regime. With central heating drawing vital moisture from your skin when you’re inside, and your skin been attacked with harsh cold temperatures when you’re outside it’s hard to keep that skin softness that we all crave.
Bit of science? So, when it’s cold, the blood doesn’t flow as readily to the small capillaries just under your epidermis. This is due to the body trying to preserve heat (ie, the opposite of when you’ve just done a 5km jog and your cheeks are bright red… this red hue is due to the capillaries on the skins surface being wiiiiide open in an effort to expel some heat from your body). Unfortunately for us, as the blood isn’t flowing as much to the dermis neither are important nutrients that keep skin looking perky. In winter, this gives us that pale grey look that we try hard to avoid. It also makes our skin dehydrate super quick!
In the cold winter months, it’s best to choose a moisturiser that feels a little heavier than your usual, personally I’d only use this in the evenings so you don’t turn into a greaseball throughout the day. If you feel that your skin has turned a bit too greasy, cut down the number of times a week you use the heavier moisturiser. It may be that your skin will be fine sticking with your regular moisturiser for the majority of the time, but having that extra moisture boost could definitely be beneficial for some. Some people prefer to invest in a specific night cream at this time of year, too.
I also think it helps to use a separate moisturising product on particularly problematic areas, a favourite spot treatment of mine is Elizabeth Arden 8hr cream (this is also super great on chapped lips, dry noses after a cold and red pimples).
Recommended moisturisers for the winter months:
- Clinique’s dramatically different moisturising lotion, whilst very heavy for every day use (at least for me!) makes a great addition to use alongside your regular moisturiser. This is one of those that I’d use sparingly, evenings only and only a few times a week for an extra boost. I always think most of clinique’s range is more catered towards older skin, though.
- My current night-time moisturiser, which can be a little heavy during the day, is Benefit’s Dear John. When I did use this for the day I found my skin got greasy very quickly, so I switched it to a bi-weekly intensive nightly moisturiser.
- A staple for your makeup case, especially in winter, is Nivea cream. Again, this is a very heavy moisturiser so you might want to check out the ‘light’ version they also make.
For me, an important extra (once every two weeks) is an intensive moisturising mask or facial oil. Generally, your product provider of choice will have a moisturising mask/oil in their range, if they don’t then the representative should be able to advise you on an alternative. However, because you’d be using the mask/oil completely separately from the 3-step cleanser/toner/moisturiser you don’t have to worry as much about a random chemical reaction (but please remember to do a small patch test if it’s a new product, skin can be very naughty sometimes!). When using an oil, I like to combine it with a 5 minute facial massage, this ensures that the oil gets down deep into the dry patches. A favourite all rounder for me is bio oil, which I find wonderfully relaxing on the skin and adding a few drops to a bath keeps the whole body moisturised too.
UV protection, UV protection, UV protection! Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can get away without using an SPF. If you’re savvy, you can choose your moisturiser/make-up that contains SPF (minimum 15!) and be safe, however a quick slick of a light SPF lotion before you moisturise will really save your skin in the years to come. Clinique do a fantastic product called ‘City block‘, made exactly for this purpose.
Here’s a list of products you may want to investigate a little:
- Burt’s Bees Carrot Seed Oil Complexion Mist, a spritzy spray that’ll keep your facial hydration topped up throughout the day. Mainly aimed at mature skin.
- Elizabeth Arden 8hr cream is fabulous for dry patches, it’s one of the most versatile products available too so you can use it on your hands/elbows/cuticles/lips/eyebrows. Think of it as vaseline, but with a bunch of herbal extras!
- A long loved desk-top addition has to be Evian’s mineral water spray. Refreshing, moisturising and toning… and pretty cheap to boot! (my American readers can find this at sephora.)
This winter is the first that I’ve added some skincare vitamins to my diet. My hair & nails have been feeling a little weak lately, so I decided to try a ‘skin, hair and nails’ supplement. The vitamins I’m taking contain vitamin D, evening primrose oil and biotin which according to the bottle all aid towards building stronger hair, skin and nails. I’ll let you know how that pans out!
As always, drinking water will help clear up your skin and keep you hydrated… I’m a real bad water drinker and drink no where near enough as I should. I do try though, and so should you! Drinking water through winter is thought to help keep moisture in the skin, too. I’m a great advocate of drinking green tea for the skin, I dunno, whenever I have bouts of drinking loads of tea my skin seems to clear up really quickly… I’m not sure if this is just due to the extra water or the antioxidant present in the tea? Who knows! It jazzes up plain water anyhow!
Some foods to add to your diet this winter, and of course keep up with when spring arrives:
- Avocados! Containing some fantastic oils that will make your skin chipper and your hair shiny. You can also mash one up and slather it on your face for a deliciously natural (and cheap) facial.
- Flaxseed oil. Another moisture booster, use this as a dressing on salads, or just take a teaspoon in the morning. Flaxseed is also really good for the digestive system.
- Oily fish (such as mackerel and salmon), again containing fatty acids great for the hydration of the skin. Not liking the fish eating? Add a cod liver oil capsule to your diet.
Stuff to Read
During my research for this article I came across several great resources for skincare, some of these may seem contradictory to some of the stuff I’ve written here where I’ve attempted to find the most valuable and trustworthy information available. If, when reading these extras, you think something may work better for your personal skin type then that’s super great, in fact that’s why I’ve included the links here!
Winter skin survival guide
Skincare in Winter
Make your own skincare products, arranged by season
Winter Facial Skin Care Tips
Lush’s Winter Skincare Tips
10 Winter Skin Savers