How to get the best skin of your life – in winter

1. Go yin with your skin

Winter is the perfect time to apply the soft, slow and relaxed approach of Yin energy to your skin. “It’s the most Yin time of all the seasons, a time for slowing down and nurturing yourself,” explains skin therapist Aleshia Marie. During the cooler months it’s a particularly important time to give yourself some self-care and address your skin diet to make sure it’s getting the nourishment and protection it needs against the environment.

To combat dehydration and redness, the first step is to strengthen your skin’s outermost layer (the stratum corneum), which is your first line of defence against the environment. You need this layer healthy and intact to achieve overall homeostasis and skin function. This means eliminating harmful ingredients that can compromise your skin’s barrier, such as emulsifiers, amines, colours, silicones, preservatives, mineral oils and fragrances.

“In winter, your sebaceous glands dramatically reduce their oil production in order to prevent your skin from drying out, so it’s important to increase your lipid content through ingredients like wheatgerm, rosehip and avocado oils. Apply a nourishing oil before a shower or bath to prevent your skin from drying out and becoming heat sensitive,” Marie says.

She also recommends dry body brushing to up your energy in the morning. “It’s a beautiful ritual used for many centuries and throughout a wide scope of traditional cultures. Both effective and gentle, it exfoliates your skin and increases circulation and lymphatic flow throughout your body, thereby having a detoxifying effect by moving what is stagnant and sluggish in order to re-energise and promote new cell growth. Always work towards your heart in an upwards motion, using a plant-bristle brush for best results.”

2. Erase tech neck

The rise of technology and being glued to our phones has contributed to ‘tech neck’, where wrinkles, slackness and sagging skin is more prominent than ever or affects us earlier. Research shows that for every inch you drop your head, the load on your neck muscles is doubled, to around 27kg of added weight, altering the way the muscles, bone and skin sits. The skin on your neck and décolletage is thin and delicate, so it’s vital that skin care is applied everywhere — from your forehead to your chest. In fact, the skin on your neck has less sebaceous-oil glands than your face, so it can age faster and succumb to gravity. Up your hydration and apply skin care in an upwards direction from your chest to your jawline in a lifting, sweeping motion.

3. Revisit peptides

Peptides aren’t new, but new innovations are giving them a refresh. Fragments of protein, peptides are made up of amino acids. When amino acids are combined in specific formations, they create specific peptides (there are many), and when peptides are formed in a specific way, they create specific proteins. Proteins are the building blocks of skin and without both proteins and peptides, your skin will suffer, causing wrinkles, sagging and dullness. A few of the most important proteins are collagen, keratin and elastin, and peptides are great for boosting and strengthening all of these. The latest formulations can address all kinds of skin concerns and work for all skin types. When paired with other in-boosting ingredients like retinol or vitamins, you can supercharge the peptides’ power.

4. Protect against blue-light damage

Otherwise known as high-energy visible (HEV) light, found in sunlight and screens, blue light can penetrate your skin and increase free radicals, leading to accelerated ageing, pigmentation and protein breakdown. Vitamins and antioxidants can help protect complexions and absorb the light. Paired with broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection, they’re your best defence.

5. Fix winter flare-ups

There are many skin conditions that get worse when it’s cold — here’s how you can treat the three most common winter woes… Keratosis pilaris: Those little bumps on the backs of your arms are caused by an overload of the protein keratin. They’re extremely common and often affect people with dry skin, so will likely worsen in winter. A gentle daily exfoliant will help break down dead skin cells and allow moisturiser to penetrate deeper to help your skin clear up.

Cracked heels: If you notice your heels get dry, sore and even cracked when it’s chilly, you’re not alone. The combination of cold weather, friction from closed shoes and dehydrated skin makes cracking worse. It’s important to hydrate your heels as soon as you get out of the shower. Apply emollient before bed and wear cotton socks to help soften skin.

Eczema: Sufferers will be all too familiar with the flare-ups in skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis when the temperature drops. Water loss causes even more irritation and itching, so it’s important to invest in an eczema-approved lotion, keep showers to under five minutes and avoid air-conditioning where possible.

Read more stories like this in today’s issue of body+soul, in your local Sunday newspaper.