Your winter skincare survival guide

Winter skincare tips
Cassie Steer,-Beauty Editor

Keep your complexion calm and cosseted this winter

Let’s face it, the winter months are arduous enough without adding an overwrought epidermis to the mix. Plummeting temperatures, lower humidity and central heating make for a complexion maelstrom that often results in dry, unhappy skin. But a few tweaks to your skincare regime, can restore a sense of calm and a glowing complexion.

Clean and serene

Cleansing is the cornerstone to every skincare regime and while it’s easy to write off as one of the more innocuous steps (cleansers are, after all, for the most part either rinsed, or wiped off), getting it wrong can have a huge impact on the status quo of your skin. So it’s worth investing a little more time in finding the right one.

Winter is a time when your skin is generally drier and more sensitive so it’s worth switching up your cleanser from a foaming variant to one that is either a cream, milk or oil in order to avoid stripping your skin of essential moisture. Avoid using hot water which can exacerbate sensitivity and dehydrate your skin further and if your skin feels tight after washing it’s a sure-fire sign that the delicate barrier is being compromised. 

Dr Hauschka’s Soothing Cleansing Milk, which contains jojoba and almond oil, is ideal for sensitive skin while Sarah Chapman’s smart Ultimate Cleanse contains omega oils, collagen stimulating peptides, vitamin A and potent antioxidants for a souped-up cleanse. For a sensuous way to rid your skin of impurities while nourishing and relieving tightness, Darphin’s Aromatic Cleansing Balm is pure comfort and encourages you to gently massage your skin. Or for foam cleanser stalwarts who simply can’t get their heads around a balm formula, REN’s Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Gel is a great compromise as this purifying wash comes in a refreshing gel texture to remove dirt and pollution, yet contains ingredients such as prebiotics to soothe, calm and balance.

Gently does it

To (winter) exfoliate or not to exfoliate? That is the question. It’s little wonder that exfoliators elude so many of us. Dermatologists extol the virtues of exfoliation yet warn of the risks of over-zealous cleansing. And then there’s the issue of whether to go for a manual exfoliator such as a scrub or a chemical exfoliator such as a peel? Get it right though and you’re supposedly on a one-way route to glow-town. 

The answer of course, lies in how your skin is feeling (employ a little intuition and listen to what your skin is telling you), but in general you should take your foot off the pedal just a little when it comes to your exfoliation regime at a time when the skin’s barrier is already compromised. Saying that, don’t be tempted to phase it out altogether – removing the build up of dead, flaky skin cells on the surface of the epidermis will allow for better penetration of your moisturiser. But instead of abrasive scrubs, opt for gentle peels such as Murad’s Resurgence Replenishing Multi-Acid Peel or Zelen’s PHA+ Bio Peel Resurfacing Pads, which will increase cell renewal and gently dissolve the cement between the dead skin cells lifting them off to reveal a fresher complexion. After all, a glow is not just for summer.

Lips however, are the exception here and a good lip scrub (we love Tom Ford’s Lip Exfoliator) can help to shift the dry, flaky bits of skin that seem to appear at the first sign of British Summer Time heading back to bed for an hour.

Incidentally, winter is the ideal time to plan in treatments –such as a laser or a peel – where sun exposure isn’t recommended before or after. Not that you should skimp on SPF over the winter months – we love Dermalogica’s PowerBright TRx Pure Light SPF50 which contains a broad spectrum sunscreen as well as helping to tackle an uneven skintone.

Layer up

As the thermometer drops it’s time to start increasing the layers. Stepping up your routine is the ideal way to ward off the ravages of winter which means adding in a serum or two, if you don’t already have one, to help bolster the skin from within, as well as repair balms for strategic TLC and overnight masks.

Layer quenching lotions such as Elemis Superfood CICA Calm Hydration Juice or Clarins Hydra-Essentiel Milky Lotion, SPF15, over anti-oxidant packed serums such as Balance Me’s Vitamin C Repair Serum or Shiseido’s Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate Serum, which can be used all year round to fight off skin-damaging free radicals and defend against daily damage.

Oils, such as La Mer The Renewal Oil, are the last step in the regime and can offer a multitude of benefits; soothing, nourishing and boosting the skin as well as helping to seal in all the ingredients and moisture that has come before (oils are able to penetrate serums, treatments and moisturisers but not many products can penetrate an oil which is why they should come last.). We say last step, in the daytime of course your trusty SPF should always come last, regardless of the season. 

Cold comforts

Upgrade your moisturiser and wave bye bye to dry, red, itchy skin (it’s no surprise that eczema and psoriasis tend to flare up in winter months). Less moisture in the air leaves skin vulnerable to dehydration (resulting in fine lines and flakiness) and sensitivity (resulting in redness and itchiness) so trade in your lotion for a thicker, comforting cream.

Winter is all about supporting and reinforcing the skin’s barrier to ensure that moisture stays in and nasties such as pollution stay out. Look for products containing ceramides such as Elizabeth Arden’s Ceramide Premiere Overnight Regeneration Cream, which act to repair and protect the skin’s barrier, hyaluronic acid to attract and retain moisture such as Fresh’s Rose Deep Hydration Face Cream, and fatty acids to help prevent water loss. Try Liz Earle’s Repair Moisturiser – Dry/Sensitive. Or, for those worried about a rich cream triggering breakouts, Clinique’s Smart Night Custom Moisturizer, Combination/Oily Skin.

Couple your power cream with a diet rich in good fats, while upping your water intake and cutting back on alcohol and caffeine, to stay hydrated from the inside. And to combat the drying effects of central heating invest in a humidifier such as Babymoov’s Hygro+ Humidifier, or leave a cup of water near one of the radiators in your living space. 

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