Body+Soul Healthy-ish Host Felicity Harley quizzes Beauty Editor Kelsey Ferencak on how to get through winter with your skin intact.
We’re officially about to enter winter. But this year seasonal depression and side-effects are no match. We’ve got the life hacks to get you through, 15 ways to nail a healthy, happy winter, surprising immunity boosters and most importantly, tips and tricks to keeping your skin in check.
In this week’s Healthy-ish Podcast, Host Felicity Harley and Beauty Editor Kelsey Ferencak get down to business breaking down how you can maintain healthy skin equilibrium once the chill hits.
Q: Winter can do a number on our skin from dryness to itching – should we switch up our daily beauty routine? If so, how?
A:This depends on your skin type and how much external aggressors (e.g. pollutants, temperature fluctuations, wind etc.) affect your skin. Generally, I think it’s wise to increase hydration or swap to a thicker moisturiser or introduce a face oil if you don’t already use one as this can up hydration and support and strengthen your skin’s barrier. If the barrier is impaired it opens you up to damage and sensitised skin so we really want to lock in moisture and keep it nice and supple and strong.
Q: What about our products, what should we include, add or eliminate?
A: Look at nourishing and hydrating ingredients, but don’t be scared of actives or exfoliating, either. When it comes to moisturisers, you should be using humectants, emollients and occlusives.
Humectants work to bind water to the skin – ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid. We all know HA holds 1000 x it’s weight in water.
Emollients or occlusives are ingredients like oils, butters, lipids and fatty acids and these have occlusive properties to lock in moisture and prevent transepidermal water loss – when air pulls water out from the skin. It also creates a physical barrier so helps strengthen the skin barrier, too.
When you use them together you have a winning hydration trifecta. So you’re targeting dry skin – lack of oils, and dehydrated skin – lack of water.
Winter is a great time to try retinol if you don’t use it, as there’s less chance of sun exposure – even though you do need to wear sunscreen as you would in summer.
Q: How do we know if we’re using the right cleanser? Serum? And moisturiser?
A: If we’re talking about dryness and dehydration or itchy skin – the most common conditions in winter, it’s likely the formulation you’re using isn’t hydrating enough or is causing your sensitised skin (from external aggressors) to becoming inflamed and irritated.
Often the formulations we use in summer are lighter so depending on your skin type you’ll want to look at heavier, more nourishing formulations. Swap gel cleansers for oils or balms or lotions, swap lightweight moisturisers for oils and thicker creams.
Serums don’t really matter – you’ll be able to use these year-round – but if you’re sensitive or your barrier is impaired they could cause irritation from the actives. Pair back your routine until you rebuild the barrier. Key serums in winter are Hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and vitamin C.
Q:I always feel that as the temperature drops, my shower temp goes up … I’m guessing you’re going to tell me this is a no, no. Is there anything else we should avoid, especially if we have more serious skin issues like eczema or psoriasis?
A: I also do this, I bet we all do. It dries out your skin and makes it itchy and more dehydrated so try to have lukewarm showers – not fun. Or, lukewarm baths with oil added to running water.
Temperature fluctuations, things like sitting in front of the heater can dry out your skin, certain materials like wool can irritate your skin and cause eczema – certain ingredients in skincare can do this, too. Often if you have these skin conditions you’ll know what to avoid to avoid flare ups. A dermatologist and a diary can help. Try using a humidifier to keep skin supple and moisturised.
Q: As we’ve talked about before, there’s a strong link between gut health and our skin, and dryness – what foods should we make sure we’re eating in winter?
A: If you have eczema or skin sensitivities that flare up during winter you should avoid foods you know cause triggers – they’re said to be citrus, dairy, eggs, gluten and soy. Nourishing foods such as bone broth, warming and cooked foods like soups and stews, foods rich in antioxidants and immunity supporting foods are all great – 70% of our immune system lies in the gut so look to wholefoods and nutrients like vitamin C, zinc and iron – broccoli, grenas, meat, grains, seeds, nuts etc. and then fermented foods to help with feeding the bacteria.
Q: Can you recommend a few products to combat these issues?
A: Products with colloidal oatmeal, calendula, olive oil, shea butter, lanolin, glycerin are all great for keeping skin soft, supple and itch-free.
Q: Talk me through your nighttime regime in winter?
A: My skincare routine generally stays the same. But I have perioral dermatitis that flares up when I use certain actives, after some treatments and in winter – so I am always careful to avoid putting actives on that area during winter. I’ll cleanse with a balm cleanser than an oil cleanser, then I’ll apply a chemical exfoliant on my t-zone and avoiding those sensitive areas around my mouth – every other night, this keeps my skin bright and radiant. Then I’ll apply whatever actives I’m using that evening like Vitamin A, Vitamin B3 alternative evenings and I’ll finish with a face oil and a rich night cream with ceramides. I’ll introduce more masks, too for hydration – in all formulations. Especially mid-week and on the weekends for some me time.