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How to care for winter skin

Is your skin feeling tight, irritated, perhaps flaking or just generally looking dull? Say hello to winter skin! It happens every year and yet we never quite prepare ourselves for the head-to-toe havoc it causes.

The bad news is that strange things happen to most of our skin in the colder months, but the good news is that it’s the perfect time to reboot your skincare routine, give it the attention it deserves and get back to healthy, hydrated and smooth skin all over.

Here are my top 10 tips to keep your skin comfortable, soft, and well hydrated all winter long.

1. Fight eczema and dermatitis flare-ups early and aggressively
All the latest evidence shows that early intervention is key. If you have a flare-up that a suitable emollient can’t improve, it’s time to apply anti-inflammatory creams (usually steroid-based) as prescribed by your doctor or pharmacist. Early treatment will prevent the skin from breaking, which can lead to infection and a lengthy recovery. You can prevent flares by using the richest possible emollient as often as possible to improve your skin’s protective barrier.

2. Invest in a humidifier – it will become your best friend
With winter comes lower humidity. Combined with indoor heating and more time spent inside, your skin is exposed to much dryer air than in warmer months. A humidifier will not only help to prevent skin from drying out but also help with your breathing and nasal blockages. Hold off the heater, too. Try not to overheat your home as it is really tough on winter skin. As tempting as it may be to snuggle in front of the fire, it is better to layer up and keep the heater on low.

3. Help your hands
Your poor hands are often the most exposed part of your body and as a result can suffer in winter. Wear warm gloves when outside, especially if you live somewhere cold. Use really good hand cream regularly and always wash your hands with a low-foam handwash.

4. Protect your pout
Lips can quickly get out of control with winter’s cold winds. Unconsciously, we lick our dry, chapped lips, which further strips them and can even bring on a form of dermatitis in just a few hours. Use a good quality lip balm, often.

5. Try a no-rinse cleanser
Winter makes our skin more sensitive than usual, so I recommend switching your cleanser to one that won’t strip your skin but will clean whilst also hydrating. Rinsing your skin with water is not great for those with very dry skin and should definitely be avoided if you have sensitive skin. For this very reason, I designed a range of no-rinse cleansers that will gently lift the most stubborn of long-wear make-up and daily grime from your skin without tugging or being abrasive and, best of all, will leave skin soft and moisturised. These cleansers require absolutely no water, therefore, are not just wonderful for your skin but an easy time-saving option and can be used anytime and anywhere.

6. Slap on the SPF
Do you think that the sun can’t get you in winter? Wrong! If you’re lucky enough to live in Australia, the sun can (and will) get you all year round.

7. Change up your moisturiser and use it a lot!
I always recommend stepping up to a richer moisturiser during the winter months, your skin will suck up all the extra nutrients. If you are used to a lotion, move to a cream-based formulation offering your skin greater hydration. If you are not already using a night cream, get one. A good oil-based night cream works slowly to deeply hydrate while your skin is in repair mode, so you emerge in the morning with dewy, soft skin who doesn’t want that?

8. Exfoliate … all over!
In order to allow moisture to penetrate your skin, you need to remove dead skin cells, which seem to build up quicker in winter creating flaky skin with the cold, dry conditions. Exfoliate more regularly than you would usually, (although not more than twice a week). This will remove dead skin, allowing your skin and body care to successfully penetrate and do its work. Choose a gentle cream-based exfoliator that will not strip your skin of its natural oils. For the body, we have developed a no-rinse body exfoliator, which requires no water to rinse off. Packed with decadent oils to deeply hydrate, you just massage it all over your body, allow it to dry for a few moments, then just flick off the excess granules.

9. Have a bath, but not too hot
Who doesn’t love languishing in a hot bath at the end of a hard day? It is great for mental health but can be a mixed bag for your skin. Immersing yourself in scalding hot water for long periods depletes the natural oils on your skin, which will cause it to dry out faster. If you get out of the shower/bath and your skin is red and itchy, this is a sign that the water is drying out your skin. So, have a warm bath but not too hot. When you bathe, add a water-dispersible bath oil to the water to treat your skin and moisturise well as soon as you towel off. Your bath-warmed skin will absorb a lot of product, so use the opportunity.

10. Avoid soap and high-foaming body wash
Choose natural low-foaming formulations that will maintain your skin’s natural protective layer to deeply cleanse without drying or irritation. After you bathe, does your skin feel dry and tight? This means that the products you have used are stripping your skin.

Also, remember that hydration starts from the inside. Keep your water consumption up throughout winter and drink lots of H20. Because you don’t feel hot in winter, you may not feel as thirsty but actually all the heating is very dehydrating. If your skin is suddenly looking dull, it’s time for a big drink!

You may have noticed that great winter skin really revolves around the same theme, which is your skin’s moisture level, preventing moisture loss and pumping more in. I will drink to that!

Shoshana Eisner graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Pharmacy. She has specialised in the area of skincare, with a special focus on the care of sensitive skin. In 2008, Shoshana launched QED Skincare, a skincare range formulated for sensitive skin.

Do you notice your skin becoming dry, cracked or more prone to eczema during winter? Do you follow a strict skincare regime during the colder months? Share your skincare ‘secrets’ in the comments section below.

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