Ending up by the fireplace, having a cosy night in with a hot chocolate or herbal tea after a laborious day at work, is the only thing some of us look forward to in the winter seasons. But waking up droning about our skin looking dry and dull isn’t something any of us want or need. But hey! Welcome to winter wonderland. The lights might be colourful and bright, but our skin is dim and crying for moisture.
However, this winter season we got you! Winter skin problems don’t have to be an inevitable part of our lives anymore. Pull on your bobble hats and cosy knitwear because we are about to find out how to have and maintain healthy radiant skin all year long.
First let’s delve into the science behind skin before I share with you some tips.
Figure 1: Image from Harvard Women’s Health
The skin is the largest organ on the body. The skin forms a protective barrier between internal and external environments. The skin has three layers, each with an individual role.
The innermost layer Subcutaneous Tissue (Hypodermis) consists of fat and connective tissue, which provides insulation, energy storage, and shock absorption.
Above this is the dermis, which is composed of a thick layer of skin that contains collagen, connective tissue, blood vessels, nerves, sweat and oil glands, and hair follicles.
The top layer or outermost layer is the epidermis, the epidermis is composed of several thin layers that consist of melanocytes and keratinocytes. Melanocytes produce melanin, a pigment that gives skin its colour and protects it from the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation. Keratinocytes produce keratin, a water repellent protein that gives the epidermis its tough and protective quality.
The epidermis is the skin's main protective barrier and the level where drying occurs.
The stacked layers of cells in ‘the epidermis is constantly in transition, the younger, living cells rise from the lower part of the epidermis and eventually die and fall off after reaching the surface. This cycle completely renews the skin about once a month.’
The epidermis tends to reflect the level of humidity around it and as the wintertime poses low humidity the water content of the epidermis does not sufficiently retain moisture. To go into more detail, in an atmosphere with low humidity, free radicals are more concentrated, and pro-inflammatory cytokines are released by keratinocyte contributing to the exploitation of the skin barrier function. In layman terms, cold weather equals to dryness, causing tight skin, flaking, dullness and spots in some cases. Alterations in the skin’s microcirculation during this weather damages the hydrolipidic barrier, making the skin more vulnerable and incompetent of recovering from incessant loss of moisture.
Fortunately, we have many tips to share with you including some of my favourites. First let’s begin with the golden advice I am sure you have been lectured with numerous times, Diet! Now we all know winter is the time for comfort food and overindulging, and don’t you worry I won’t be asking you to put down those chocolate chip cookies. But our skin’s health does not only depend on what we put on our skin but also what we put in our bodies. The wintertime already takes its toll on our skin, therefore, to combat the negative effects of the weather it is crucial to make healthier food choices. For instance, the consumption of sugar in any form influences the two major causes of acne: hormones and inflammation. Additionally, ‘A high sugar intake may play a role in the aging process, accelerating the development of wrinkles and fine lines. Also, foods with a high glycemic (sugar) index can also cause oil production and inflammation, leading to acne breakouts.’
A balanced diet, with plenty of water and enthusiastic consumption of foods rich in natural fats such as avocados, walnuts and eggs can help our skin feel supple on a cellular level boosting hydration.
Many studies have shown omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which fall into the unsaturated fat category, play a significant role in skin function and appearance. Oils are our best friends! Fish oil, flaxseed oil or digging into some oily fish can help us counteract the dryness. It will always be handy to add supplements such as omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids, and some extra Vitamin D to our winter routine.
Now to treat the surface, skin moisturisers, which rehydrate the epidermis and seal in the moisture, are the first, quickest and easiest step in combating dry, flaky, and irritated skin. It is important to select moisturisers that contain both or either Humectants (help attract moisture) such as glycerin and lecithin or Emollients (smooth the skin by filling in the spaces between cell) such as linoleic, linolenic, and lauric acids. There are also many synthetic alternative ingredients which I have not mentioned as I believe in the power of natural ingredients.
Overnight treatments have proven to be a fantabulous way to rejuvenate or prevent dry skin, especially using emollients to moisturise. Applying emollient overnight, will buy the skin enough time to rejuvenate and absorb the treatment. Something which has personally really helped me is using the CELL RENEWAL NIGHT REPAIR OIL by ESPÉRER SKIN CARE.
This facial oil is one of my favourites to use, especially in the winter, not only for its physical benefits but for its emotional benefits. This night repair oil is expertly formulated with wellness in mind and it's exactly what I need during the busiest and most stressful time of the year. The main ingredients being Neroli, and Jojoba oil are sourced exclusively from Morocco. Neroli and jojoba oil eminent antiseptic and antibacterial properties makes it an impeccable companion in our battle against redness and breakouts. Furthermore, jojoba oil smoothes and helps repair damaged skin, caused by the UV rays that although decrease in winter are still very much existent, it also helps shield the skin from further UV damage.
This facial oil helps regulate sebum production of oily skin whilst moisturising the skin because of its high content of omega 6 and 9, both hydrating fatty acids that ideal for drier skin. If that wasn’t enough ESPÉRER SKIN CARE’s CELL RENEWAL NIGHT REPAIR OIL contains natural vitamin C as well as encourages the skin’s cell regeneration, stimulating collagen production resulting in a more radiant healthy complexion.
After using the CELL RENEWAL NIGHT REPAIR OIL, I can see my skin is brighter, and smoother compared to earlier winters. Not only that, but it has also lifted my mood, I go to sleep feeling happy and I wake up feeling very energetic and refreshed. This amazing facial oil is completely chemical free and only consists of natural, cruelty free ingredients. It is the last step in my nightly skin care routine, once I have cleansed, I add a few drops to my palms and then I gently massage the oil into my face until I feel it has been evenly distributed, I then wait 30 minutes for absorption before I go to bed.
This is just a personal recommendation of mine to help you have and maintain radiant skin even during the cold and grey winters. Winters can now be all about snapchatting our snow angels instead of stressing about our skin!