The fall and winter months can be really harsh on your skin, with the dry air drinking up your skin’s moisture, leaving it parched and dehydrated. Fortunately, by following these 7 tips, you will be able to keep your skin soft, supple and hydrated, even on the coldest days of the season.
Use a Rich and Thick Moisturizer
Even if you already use a moisturizer on a daily basis, you need to ensure that the one you are using is thick and rich enough for the colder months.
Well, it all comes down to the way in which a moisturizer works…
Moisturizers are designed to form a thin film over the surface of the skin, and this then protects the skin from the environment, while retaining moisture.
In the summer months, the air is more humid, meaning that it does not draw as much moisture out of the skin. This means that a lighter moisturizer is sufficient in keeping skin hydrated. However, the dry air in the winter months requires a much stronger line of defence…
By using a rich and greasy moisturizer, the film formed over the surface of your skin will be much thicker, and therefore able to keep your skin hydrated for longer.
Do not forget…
Always try to apply your moisturizer on damp skin. This then means that the moisturizer traps in the extra water on your skin, giving you even more moisture.
If you are wondering which ingredients are most beneficial in a winter moisturizer, here are a few to keep an eye out for:
- Hyaluronic acid
- Lactic acid
- Essential oils
Hydrate from Within
Moisturizers are key when it comes to keeping the skin hydrated externally, but the only way to truly keep your skin hydrated this fall and winter is by hydrating your body from within.
To begin with, this means drinking plenty of fluids…
Don’t feel like drinking glass after glass of plain water in the colder months?
There is no reason why you cannot swap this for herbal teas, as these are just as hydrating as plain water. Even better, many herbal teas contain certain antioxidants that will give your skin an extra boost.
Some of the most skin-hydrating teas include:
- Green tea
- Chamomile tea
- Rooibos tea
- Dandelion tea
Alternatively, you could also try infusing different fruits into bottles of water, as this will give the water a sweeter taste, but in a much healthier way than store-bought fruit juices.
In addition to upping your water intake, you should also try to increase your consumption of moisture-rich foods.
- Watermelon and strawberry – 92% water content
- Cantaloupe – 90% water content
- Pineapple, orange and raspberry – 87% water content
- Cucumber and iceberg lettuce – 86% water content
- Spinach and green peppers – 82% water content
Just like with the herbal teas, these fruits and vegetables will also contain other nutrients that will directly benefit your skin. Plus, keeping yourself well-hydrated from within will benefit your body in so many other ways too.
Stay Away from Hot Showers
Are you guilty of taking long, steamy showers after a cold winter’s day?
If so, you may be dehydrating your skin big time, without even realizing it…
Hot water strips your skin of its natural oils, which are designed to keep your skin moisturized and hydrated. Without these oils, your skin will be much more vulnerable to the damage that the colder weather can cause.
If that was not enough to convince you, hot water also brings your blood circulation rushing to your skin, which is why your skin will often be flushed after a long, hot shower. However, this provides the foundation for inflammatory skin issues to occur, such as itching and rashes.
So, what temperature should your bath and shower water be?
Tepid is best. In other words, just slightly warmer than skin temperature.
You should also try to limit the amount of time that you spend in the shower, keeping this to no longer than ten minutes.
Do not forget…
Apply a thick layer of moisturizer as soon as you step out of the shower, while your skin is still damp.
Use a Face Mask Weekly
Face masks are a great way to give your skin a bit of a treat, as well as an extra dose of hydration. You can find face masks designed for just about every skin issue out there, but, it goes without saying that when it comes to keeping your skin hydrated, hydrating face masks are what you are after.
Wondering which masks are actually the most hydrating?
Try to find some that contain one of these ingredients:
- Algae – hydrating, detoxifying and packed with antioxidants
- Ceramides – repairs and strengthens the skin’s natural protective barrier
- Dimethicone – seals in moisture and prevents moisture loss
- Olive oil – hydrating and nourishing, this will really soften your skin
- Cactus – a natural humectant
- Honey – an occlusive agent that coats the skin and seals in moisture
- Shea butter – a natural emollient that hydrates and heals the skin
When it comes to how often you need to use a face mask, once a week is usually ideal, but this does depend on the exact mask that you are using.
Want to mix it up a bit?
Give the multi-masking trend a try. This simply means that you use a few different face masks at once, applying them to the specific areas of your face that you want them to treat. You can also try layering multiple masks for extra nourishment.
Invest in a Humidifier
Not only is humidity much lower in the fall and winter months, meaning that your skin will not be as capable of retaining moisture, but many people also use indoor heating on cold days, which makes the air even drier.
This is where a humidifier comes in, as these work by adding water vapor to the air, which is, in other words, moisture. By putting this moisture back into the air, the air becomes more humid, and will therefore pull less water away from your skin.
Of course, you do not really want to have a humidifier in every room of your house, but you only really need just one. Keep this in your bedroom, since this is likely to be the room in which you spend the most time, even though you are asleep. Your skin also tends to lose more moisture in the evenings than it does during the day, making this the perfect time to increase the humidity in the air.
Wondering how high to set the humidifier?
Everybody’s home environment is different, but experiment with the settings until you are able to add as much moisture as possible into the air, without fogging up your windows. This usually means that the humidity level is at 35%, which is fantastic for your skin.
You should also always opt for a warm mist, rather than a cold one, because this keeps the water temperature much closer to skin temperature.
As mentioned above, indoor heating can also really dry out the air in your home. While it can be difficult to completely avoid this in the colder months, just make sure that you are not too close to any heat sources, whether this may be the fire or the radiator. The closer that you are to them, the more they will dehydrate your skin and body.
Incorporate an Oil Into Your Skin Care Routine
While oils themselves do not really hydrate the skin, they do form a protective lipid barrier on the surface of the skin, which then locks moisture in. This can also be referred to as superficial hydration, as this barrier is essential when it comes to keeping skin hydrated.
Although all oils work in a similar way, they do contain different nutrients, so keep your skin type in mind when choosing an oil:
- Oily Skin – Grapeseed oil or jojoba oil, the latter of which is extremely similar to the skin’s own natural oils, meaning that it will trick the skin into producing less oil overall
- Dry Skin – Almond oil or apricot kernel oil, both of which are extremely moisturizing and barely have a scent
- Sensitive Skin – Avocado oil, hemp seed oil or borage seed oil, the latter of which has been proven to significantly decrease inflammation
Wondering when to apply an oil?
Since oils act as a sealant over the surface of your skin, this should be the very final step in your skin care routine. If you apply anything else over the top of the oil, the oil will simply block this product from entering into your skin.
Alternatively, you could also mix in a few drops of oil with your moisturizer, and apply this to your face together.
Don’t like the idea of leaving oils on your face?
This basically makes use of oils, instead of cleansers, to wash the face, and can actually be far more hydrating for your skin.
Here is what you need to do:
- Hold a warm, damp cloth against your skin for about 20 seconds
- With clean hands, massage the oil, or combination of oils, into your skin, as this will help to dissolve any dirt
- Use a warm, wet cloth to gently wipe the oil off your face
- Follow up with a layer of moisturizer, while your skin is still damp
Due to the lack of humidity in the air, your skin will feel drier than usual in the fall and winter months, and may also often seem quite flaky. This is because of dehydrated skin cells, which die off at a much faster rate in the winter than they do in the summer.
Why is it important to exfoliate these away?
For a number of reasons…
To begin with, when these dead skin cells settle on the surface of your skin, and into your pores, they prevent skin care products from penetrating into your skin, significantly minimizing the way in which they work.
These dead skin cells also contribute to a rough and dull complexion, which many people tend to experience in the colder season.
However, there is one thing that many people forget when it comes to exfoliating in the winter…
The key here is to exfoliate carefully.
Your skin is much more vulnerable in the winter months, meaning that it is much more susceptible to the damage that over-exfoliating can cause. Over-exfoliating does not only refer to exfoliating too often, but also using an exfoliant that is too harsh for your skin.
This can result in the following issues:
- Redness and irritation
- Dry patches, flakiness and excessive dryness
- Persistent stinging
- A burning sensation
If you notice any of these symptoms, it is extremely important that you either reduce the frequency at which you are exfoliating, or switch to a milder exfoliant.
When it comes to how often to exfoliate, twice a week is usually ideal, but everybody’s skin reacts differently, so you need to work out what your skin can tolerate. If your skin does nothing but thrive when you exfoliate three or four times a week, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing this.
In terms of choosing an exfoliant, you have so many choices available to you, from scrubs to peels. If you are new to exfoliating, start off with something easy, such as a gentle scrub, before experimenting with everything else that is out there.
The winter months can be a nightmare when it comes to keeping skin happy and healthy, especially for those who already have dry or sensitive skin. By following these 7 tips throughout the colder season, you will be able to keep your skin and body well-hydrated, which is absolutely key when it comes to maintaining a healthy complexion.