How to Beat the Winter Dryness
If you live in a temperate country, chances are you’ve experienced winter dryness. The skin gets itchy and raw and begins to turn red and rough. Dry skin happens when the skin does not have sufficient moisture. Some people have naturally dry skin because their skin does not produce enough oil/sebum to keep the skin moisturized, but the wintertime exacerbates it even more, and even if you do not typically have dry skin you are more likely to experience it when the temperatures fall. The humidity of the air falls, leading to less moisture in the surrounding environment for our skin to draw from. This is where dry skin occurs!
The outermost layer of the skin, the epidermis, is affected by the humidity levels. The epidermal cells are arranged akin to the tiles on a roof and are held together by a “glue” made of lipids (fats), which is what keeps the skin cells nice and flat, making them smooth and neat. When this glue that holds them together gets loosened by the low humidity levels, this causes the water in the skin cells to escape, hence causing a drop in moisture levels and hence the aforementioned dryness of the skin. Dry skin can be a real pain to deal with and it can also be very painful. The raw feeling is especially awful in the wintertime.
How Moisture in the Skin Works
There are three layers to the skin: the subcutaneous fat, dermis, and the abovementioned epidermis.
Subcutaneous layer: the innermost layer consists of fats which keep us well-insulated from the cold and also provide storage for energy and absorbs shock.
Dermis: the middle layer above the subcutaneous layer. It is made of blood vessels, sebaceous glands, and hair follicles.
Epidermis: the thinnest, topmost layer of the skin. This is the layer that gets dry and is made of cells that are stacked and continuously replenish, meaning old layers will fall off.
The aim of moisturizing is to rehydrate the epidermis and lock in moisture. There are numerous types of moisturizing ingredients that can do this. Humectants can attract and draw in moisture. Some known and common humectants include substances like ceramides, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and lecithin. There are also substances called occlusives, which are the ones that keep the moisture in the skin by creating a barrier on the epidermis to seal it in. Common occlusives are petroleum jelly, silicone, lanolin, and mineral oil. The last group of moisturizers is emollients, which create smoother skin by filling in the gaps between the skin cells. Some common emollients are lauric acid, linolenic acid, and linoleic acid.
If you are looking to stay hydrated with a soft complexion even during the harsh winter months, keep reading for tips to beat the winter dryness!
1. Keep a facial mist on hand
Having a bottle of facial mist on the go is a great way to keep your skin looking refreshed and hydrated no matter the weather! A face mist with moisturizing ingredients will give you that instant relief, and you will both feel and see a difference in your skin. Look for a facial mist that contains glycerin, which is one of the humectants mentioned above. It will give you a much-needed moisture boost. You can also look out for ones with hyaluronic acid and squalane as these ingredients boost hydration and plumping skin cells. They lock in moisture and can also help repair the damaged skin barrier.
2. Don’t stay in the shower for too long
The coldness of winter makes the thought of lingering in a hot shower or bath all the more appealing. Sadly, hot baths and showers are culprits for dry skin, and you should try to wrap up your shower as soon as you can. Take quicker showers in the winter, and immediately apply a body moisturizer once you get out. The skin should be damp when you apply moisturizers to let it penetrate the skin more deeply. You can also double up the moisture by adding body oil to your routine in the winter. Apply a light body oil before layering on some nice, rich body cream or lotion.
3. Get a moisturizing mask
Moisturizing masks will deliver that extra boost of moisture you need in the cold winter months. Masks act as an occlusive, as they introduce moisturizing agents and lock it in. The mask acts as an extra barrier when it is on, allowing moisture to go in and also preventing it from leaving. Get a deeply nourishing and moisturizing one for the wintertime. You can even make your own with some basic kitchen ingredients such as avocado and honey, both of which are excellent natural remedies for dry skin.
4. Don’t lick your lips!
Dry, chapped lips can also be a result of you licking your lips. It’s a common habit but one you will want to stay away from during the winter months. Saliva contains an enzyme that dries the lips out even more. Instead, get a nice rich moisturizing lip balm or butter that will keep your lips soft and moisturized. Lip balms with natural oils are a great option for slathering on a nice thick layer.
5. Exfoliate gently
Dry skin does result in some chapping and flaking, so it is a good idea to slough off these layers of dead, damaged skin. Furthermore, this layer might cause the rest of your serums and moisturizers to be less effective as they cannot penetrate the skin as deeply. Get a gentle exfoliator with ingredients such as glycolic acid or lactic acid to gently exfoliate the layers of dead skin. You might also want to reduce the number of times you use your retinoids because it is a very strong exfoliant and can cause extra irritation and redness in the changing weather. If your skin is extra dry, swap a chemical exfoliant for a gentle washcloth to remove the dead skin cells. Remember to be extra gentle during this time.
Winter dryness is a pain, but it’s not unsolvable! You just have to tailor your winter regimen to add more moisture to the skin! You could also consider getting a humidifier for at home, which will add some extra moisture to your home environment.