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Ask A Dermatologist: Skincare Tips For Winter 

Temperatures are dropping and we’re all feeling it. But how the dial on that thermostat this winter, a cold weather-ready skincare routine is more important than ever. 

Here at Skin + Me we’re all about expert-approved routines and scientifically-proven ingredients that make a difference you can see and feel in your skin. There’s no need to go overboard, or break the bank with your skincare. As our expert Dermatology Team tells us, making a few simple swaps is all you need to face the frost this year.

How does cold weather affect our skin?

Colder weather and generally harsher outdoors conditions can often lead to problems with dry and irritated skin and can make skin concerns such as psoriasis, eczema or rosacea worse. 

Consultant Dermatologist, Dr Malvina Cunnigham, tells us “falling temperatures and low humidity have on our skin barrier. Our skin can become weaker, making it more susceptible to environmental stressors and allergens. A compromised skin barrier drives inflammation leading to redness, dryness and irritation.”

When our skin barrier is compromised, it can drive inflammation and lead to redness, dryness and irritation. It also means that we are less able to tolerate ingredients that although hugely beneficial for our skin, can affect our barrier such as retinoids or AHAs or BHAs

Falling temperatures and low humidity have a negative effect on our skin barrier meaning it becomes weaker. A compromised skin barrier drives inflammation leading to redness, dryness and irritation.

dr malvina cunningham

How can we protect our skin against cold weather?

Stick to a simple routine

When it comes to skincare, simple is always best. If you’re new to skincare, see our guide on how to build a skincare routine from scratch. If you’re all clued-up, why not refresh your memory and check out our advice on getting the most out of your active ingredients, all year round.

Make smart skincare swaps

Try a more hydrating cleanser, such as Skin + Me’s Purify + Prep Hydrating, particularly if your skin tends to become dry in the winter. We’ve also listed our other derm-recommended cleansers for you to explore. 

Dr Jason Thomson also recommends a mild exfoliating cleanser if you can tolerate it, “if you have mild flaky, dry skin, you may benefit from a gentle, hydrating PHA (polyhydroxy acid) exfoliant cleanser alongside your regular moisturiser.”

Introduce hyaluronic acid

To bolster your skincare this winter, a hyaluronic acid serum could make all the difference. A lightweight layer of pure hydration underneath moisturiser, sunscreen, your personalised solution and makeup does a great job at boosting skin-moisture.

Hyaluronic acid is one of my favourite hydrating ingredients. It’s essentially a molecule that keeps water in your skin.

DR MALVINA CUNNINGHAM

Dr Malvina Cunningham LOVES this molecular miracle, “hyaluronic acid is one of my favourite hydrating ingredients. It’s essentially a molecule that keeps water in your skin. It’s nice to use in combination with the tretinoin and azelaic acid (you may find these in your Daily Doser) as it helps skin to replenish after the drying effects of ingredients. You can absolutely combine them.”

Ration the actives in your skincare routine

Your Daily Doser contains all the evidence-based ingredients you need to achieve your best skin. If you’re using additional actives such as AHA or BHAs these can lead to dryness and irritation as temperatures drop, so try reducing the frequency of use or cut them out altogether during the colder months.

Dr Jason Thomson, Head of Medical, tells us “dry skin can be easily irritated so it’s also important to avoid harsh skincare ingredients (start on the lowest strengths if using active ingredients such as retinol and gradually increase) and always use a gentle, hydrating cleanser.

“Some advocate exfoliating dry skin but this should be done with caution and should be avoided if you have inflamed, irritated, dry skin such as with eczema.”

dr jason thomson

Switch your moisturiser to a thicker formula

Moisturisers that contain more emollients, such as Skin + Me’s Soothe + Smooth Rich, and occlusives should be your prime choice for winter. This is because they form a barrier across your skin to prevent loss of moisture. 

Ingredients such as glycerin, betaine, ceramides, hyaluronic acid and allantoin are ideal for moisturisers all year round, but particularly in winter. If you’re not prone to spots, ingredients such as shea butter are also good to look out for.

We’ve also got some derm-approved alternatives, hydrating yet non-comedogenic (formulated not to block your pores or cause breakouts).

Adjust your personalised treatment (if you need to)

If the rest of your routine isn’t cutting it, discuss your prescription with your prescriber (just drop us an email at hello@skinandme.com). A milder formula may be needed for the winter months or even a temporary switch of ingredients. 

Keep an eye on your thermostats

Note any adjustments to your environment, as dehumidifiers and central heating in homes and offices can affect your skin. Stay hydrated and try to avoid regular extreme temperature changes.

Common errors that can compromise your complexion? Working next to a hot radiator or turning up the heating in the car too high – it might keep you toasty in the moment but your skin won’t thank you for it afterwards.

Always. Wear. Sunscreen.

It’s proven that year-round protection against sun damage (hello broad-spectrum sunscreen) is indisputably the number one defence we have against developing conditions such as hyperpigmentation and melasma, and the signs of premature ageing. Healthy skin is protected skin.

In the spirit of making seasonal swaps, opt for a hydrating sunscreen. While winter sun is harder to come by on these shorter days, UV rays can still pass through clouds, so don’t skip this step.

“Anyone with dryer or combination skin can opt for richer sunscreens and many come with great additional ingredients such as vitamin C and niacinamide for extra barrier care, and skin-ageing protection.”

DR MALVINA CUNNINGHAM

How can a change in water temperature affect how we look after our skin?

Warm water is gentlest to the skin and often allows the cleansing product to work best. 

As tempting as a steamingly hot bath is in the winter, try to turn down the temperature dial a notch. If you suffer from conditions like eczema, hot water can irritate the skin further by negatively affecting your skin barrier and causing your skin to feel irritated and dry.

A cold shower (or a blast of cold water at the end of a warm one) can boost our endorphin levels and energise us. Alternatively, a quick splash of cold water at the sink in the morning can also soothe puffy swollen eyes.

Any other winter skincare tips?

Don’t forget the details. Your lips might need a bit of extra TLC so treat yourself to great balm. We recommend La Roche-Posay’s Cicaplast Lip Balm or Aquaphor Ointment to stay chap-free.

While it might be tempting to hunker down with a giant glass of red wine or battle through the darker days with buckets of coffee, try to practise some moderation. 

And get outdoors (armed with sunscreen) to boost your mood and vitamin D levels – your glowing skin will thank you for it.

New to Skin + Me? Start your healthier, happier skin consultation today.

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Find a Skin + Me Cleanser and Moisturiser to suit your skin type. Discover the full three-step routine.