With winter weather fast approaching, now is a great time to implement a solid skincare routine focused on hydration and protection to shield it from persistently cold, dry conditions and indoor heating. The skin is our largest organ and interferes with our external environment constantly. It is our shield, always seeking to protect us; it also bears the brunt of environmental exposures.
The skin may reflect cold weather stress as dryness, flakiness, redness, and irritation. Some individuals see a worsening of existing symptoms and conditions like dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis. Dehydrated, dry skin will also show more pronounced signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles. Here are my top 10 winter skincare secrets that can help to keep your skin plump, radiant and well-hydrated.
1. Avoid using hot water on the face: instead, wash the face with cool water always.
2. Gentle cleansers only: avoid foaming cleansers or cleansers that give you a squeaky clean feeling. Instead, opt for milk cleansers or gentle oil cleansers that will not strip your skin’s natural moisturizing factors.
3. Hydrate externally: drinking more water does not necessarily lead to more hydrated skin. While drinking enough water is incredibly important, do not rely on it to keep the skin moisturized; we must also hydrate the skin from the outside with high quality skincare that contains moisturizing ingredients like essential fatty acids (prickly pear seed oil and evening primrose oil are two of my favourites), ceramides, cholesterol, squalane, sodium hyaluronate, among others.
4. Mask frequently: in the winter months, I ensure I mask at least twice per week. I like to select a moisturizing mask that I can leave on overnight for deeper results.
5. Don’t skimp on SPF: continue using SPF daily. My favourite is to apply a mineral-based SPF to my face, neck, and chest after applying a moisturizing oil in the mornings.
6. Do not over exfoliate: while it is tempting to exfoliate dry, flakey skin, it may not be the best long-term solution. Avoid or limit exfoliation with acids, and do not use granular exfoliants on the face. Instead, consider oil cleansing with organic jojoba oil which can help to exfoliate without stripping the skin.
7. Seal in moisture with oils: finish your routine with a few drops of a hydrating, balanced oil to seal in moisture. A simple option to start with would be an organic jojoba oil on top of your regular moisturizer; this oil is close to the make-up of the skin’s natural oils and is very unlikely to cause breakouts or irritation.
8. Consider topical vitamins: formulas that contain vitamin B3, C, E can nourish the skin because, no matter how many vitamins we get through the diet, it is important to give the skin a dose of these balancing nutrients externally to meet this organ’s demands. Bonus: retinol (a form of vitamin A) can also be beneficial. Speak to a naturopathic doctor that focuses on dermatology to help you find the formula that is best for you. Also make sure you avoid retinol formulas if pregnant or breastfeeding.
9. Facial massage: regular Gua Sha or facial massage can help move blood and lymph, and keep circulation strong. Healthy circulation = healthier, more nourished and moisturized skin.
10. Do not forget your body: regular exfoliation of the body using a gentle scrub can keep the body well moisturized, and free of bumps and dryness that often occur from layering on clothing during the winter months. I like to make a home-made natural scrub by filling a small jar with brown sugar, adding it with the juice of one lemon and covering it with jojoba oil. I love using this at least once per week to help break down the bonds between dead skin cells and gently remove them — the skin feels incredibly soft after!
Remember - we are have unique skincare needs. Seek the advice of a naturopathic doctor or holistic aesthetician who can assist you in building a routine that is appropriate for your skin’s needs, which may vary seasonally. A great practice is regular seasonal check-ins and/or facials with your practitioner to harmonize your skin as the weather changes.