How can I protect my skin in the cold weather?
So, the sunshine is long gone, Christmas is around the corner, and winter is well and truly upon us. Log fires, central heating, woolly hats and scarves and cold harsh wind are all we can look forward to for the next few months. Well at least it’s better for my skin, right? I mean no sun means no pigmentation, no extra lines, and no oily breakouts so surely my skin will recover and be healthier.
Well actually this sadly is not the case, and there are multiple factors that cause our skin to suffer sometimes even more so in the cold winter months. So, what do we need to consider and how can we go about protecting key areas from the harsh elements?
Firstly, there is a misconception that a lack of sun means no need for SPF protection. While the sun’s rays are of course much weaker and unlikely to burn or cause dark patches, they can still affect it in other ways. They weaken the structural layout of the surface layers, damaging our natural barrier, leaving it with microscopic gaps, like a sieve. This leads to our water escaping more freely out of the skin resulting in a tight, dry, flaky and even uncomfortable feel. This lack of hydration will then have several knock-on effects, breakouts and blemishes are more likely as the skin will struggle to flush out bacteria and toxins, it will also naturally produce less collagen resulting in more fine lines and creases appearing, quite a lot of negative changes just from leaving out an SPF!
We must also remember that as well as the UVB rays from the sun, we need to shield against the effects of UVA. When we wrap up warm for a cosy night indoors it’s easy to not realise that UVA could be all around us, the screens on our television’s, computer’s, mobile phone’s and tablet’s all emit these rays as well as fluorescent light bulbs. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin, damaging collagen, elastin and capillaries resulting in a loss of firmness, deeper lines and more visible red thread veins.
It is therefore of vital importance that we are just as vigilant at protecting our skin morning and night throughout the winter as we are the rest of the year. Look for a broad-spectrum SPF, this means both UVB and UVA protection is provided, try also to look for a physical reflector with minerals such as titanium and zinc as oppose to a chemical absorber, as these contain huge amounts of chemicals that can cause sensitivity.
Another cause of skin sensitivity during this period is the harsh cold wind, and the extremes of temperature when we come indoors to central heating or an open fire for example. This weakens our lipid barrier, a layer of essential fatty acids near the skins surface that acts like a filter for pollutants and debris. Due to this damage, irritants penetrate more easily into our skin resulting in redness, soreness and even stinging or burning when we try to cleanse or moisturise.
There are several very effective ways that we can help to shield our skin from these elements and prevent this damage. Antioxidants are an essential part of a good winter skin care routine, for example Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) can be found in many treatment serums and moisturisers and can be likened to a protective bubble for our skin. Remember, when keeping a fruit salad fresh we are encouraged to cover it in lemon juice, it’s the Vitamin C content the stops the fruit from going brown!
Anti- pollution active ingredients such as Mimosa leaf extract and Centella Asiatica extract are particularly beneficial for city life as they will break down particles of dirt and grime such as petrol and prevent them penetrating a weakened skin.
I would also strongly recommend wearing a rich nourishing moisturiser containing Hyaluronic Acid, our skins natural water to intensively hydrate, plus Proteoglycans that act to retain the hydration in the extracellular space and Shea Butter, a plant- base emollient. These mimic the skins lipid barrier to restore strength, lock moisture in and irritants out.
This combination of active ingredients will protect, preserve and prevent damage, to keep the skin supple, comfortable and glowing with health, just don’t forget your neck, decollete and hands!