Wherever you are in the world, shifting seasons bring a change in the weather and this can have a damaging effect on your skin. I don’t need to tell you why looking after your skin is important. As well as defending the body against infection, your skin is on the front line of youth preservation. Maintaining a solid skin care routine is crucial for a successful anti-aging strategy.
Here are some of my favorite ways for looking good in winter. Whatever the weather, you can fight the signs of aging and make sure your skin doesn’t suffer!
If you want to give your moisturizer a fighting chance at keeping your skin smooth and soft, clear away dead skin cells by gently exfoliating once or twice a week, so it can sink in effectively. Always remember to choose the right exfoliant for your skin type as well.
Also, never forget the three minute rule – Don’t wait longer than three-minutes to apply lotion to your damp skin or moisture will disappear before you get a chance to lock it in. Better yet, spray hyaluronic acid mist before applying any serums or moisturizer to your skin. Hyaluronic acid is an ingredient that binds moisture to the skin keeping it hydrated, plump and youthful looking as well as helping your products penetrate deeper into the skin. (Side note: babies are born with high levels of hyaluronic acid!) While we’re discussing the golden rules of moisturizing, keep the bathroom door closed to control the humidity level.
Brutal winter weather is miserable for people suffering from dry or chapped lips, so always stay armed with your favorite lip balm. Look for products with naturally hydrating ingredients like coconut oil, olive oil, cocoa butter, shea butter or beeswax to reduce evaporation and keep your skin hydrated. Alternatives to animal based products like olive oil are better for the planet and a clear conscience.
Consider exfoliating your lips once a week with a mixture of brown sugar and honey. Rub this blend onto your lips in vigorous circular motions to loosen the dead skin. Let it sit for one minute, then wipe off with a damp cloth.
This one is simple – if you skip sunscreen during the winter months, you’re ignoring one of the greatest ways to prevent aging. Sunscreen protects against photoaging, which is not part of the natural aging process. “Even in winter, UV rays can interfere with skin-barrier function, reduce ceramide levels and prevent skin from holding onto moisture,” says Joshua Zeichner, the Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Medical Centre.
Of course, there’s also the fact that sunscreen is proven to reduce the risk of skin cancer.
The Skin Cancer Foundation states, “The dermis contains collagen, elastin, and other fibers that support the skin’s structure. It is these elements that give skin its smooth and youthful appearance – and that are damaged by UV radiation (UVR).”
So, what do we do to extend the healthy lifespan of our skin? Use sunscreen every day (yes, even in winter) with a minimum level of SPF 15, even more if you spend more time exposed to the sun. Choose one that protects against both UVA and UVB rays and apply 30 minutes before you go into the sun. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.
Gloves – Inside and Outside
Keeping your hands moisturized, especially in wintry weather, is difficult because the skin is thinner than on other parts of the body and has fewer oil glands. This lack of natural moisture can lead to cracking, irritation and itching. Wearing gloves when you go outside doesn’t just protect against chilly temperatures, as they also act as an occlusive barrier. In other words, they help trap moisture. You should also bear this in mind when following your skin care routine.
TIP: First moisturize with your favorite lotion, then put on a pair of cotton gloves, which helps absorb moisture making your hands softer.
No More Hot Baths
When it’s freezing outside, who doesn’t dream of relaxing with a soothing shower, or a nice, long soak in a hot bath? Unfortunately, while it may feel great at the time, extended hot showers strip moisture from your skin and hair. Experts agree that reducing the temperature to warm or lukewarm, spending no more than 5-10 minutes in the shower, and only rinsing off once a day are the best ways to minimize moisture loss.
I haven’t forgotten about helping your luscious locks fight the effects of dry winter conditions. Here are five quick tips to give your hair a little extra TLC:
- Keep hair washing to a minimum. Shampoo strips moisture from your hair and your scalp. Give your hair a 24-hour break between washes to allow natural scalp oils to build up again.
- While cutting down on shampooing is a good idea, forgetting the conditioner is a hair care nightmare! Use a conditioner that contains ceramides, naturally occurring fat molecules that give hair elasticity and shine.
- If you’re prone to static hair in winter, leave-in conditioners will help neutralize static-causing negative charges.
- For another anti-static tip, switch to combing your hair with a wide-tooth comb instead of brushing to reduce the build-up of static electricity. If you prefer to use a brush, swap to one with natural bristles.
- If your scalp is in need of an extra pick-me-up, try brushing vitamin E oil through your hair before bedtime to replace lost moisture.
I know people love to experiment at home with natural remedies for skin care problems. If you’re worried about the chemical ingredients in some products, or looking for an inexpensive and useful way to protect your skin, here are two homemade treatments worth trying:
Egg Yolk and Olive Oil Face Mask
Whip two drops of olive oil with the yolks of two eggs until you have a stable mixture. Apply it to your face and leave on for 20 minutes before washing off with water. Egg yolks contain a host of anti-inflammatory and anti-aging nutrients. Olive oil is rich in natural antioxidants and vitamin E.
Avocado and Honey Dry Skin Treatment
Mix half a cup of honey with the mashed pulp of half an avocado. Leave the mixture on your skin for 15 minutes before rinsing. Vitamins and oils will help soften your skin. This paste also gently removes dead skin cells and helps fight the signs of aging.