Spring might be just around the corner but most of us are still dealing with arctic temperatures and all the problems for your skin that they create. Dryness, flakiness and hypersensitivity are just three of the commonest winter villains and that’s before you take into account the effects that bad weather, and worse skin, have on your mood.
‘Dry and dehydrated skin is made worse by colder weather and also constant changes in temperature between over-heated homes and offices and the coolness of the air outside,’ says Geraldine Howard, President and Co-Founder of Aromatherapy Associates. ‘It plays havoc with the balance of delicate skin.’
If you have normal to dry or dry skin, this is the worst time of year and it can seem impossible to sort out. That’s because the reason for your dermatological disaster is your body’s natural reaction to cold. Cold weather causes our blood vessels to constrict. This is natural and the instinctive response of our circulatory system to falling temperatures.
Unfortunately, the blood flow that supplies our skin cells with vital nutrients and oxygen is also reduced: cells regenerate at a slower rate and the replacements are lower quality, as the nutrients found in your blood aren’t readily available. Luckily help is at hand, so try a few of these ways of beating the winter blues and boosting your hair, skin and best of all, mood.
The skinny on skin
What you put on your face to combat winter dehydration is crucial but what you use to take things off is just as important. As Dr Tamara Griffiths of the British Skin Foundation says, it’s worth avoiding harsh or alcohol-based cleansers, which can further dry the skin. Switch to a creamier, gentler, non-clogging cleanser such as Sophyto Purifying Silken Cleanser, £13. It won't disturb the lipid layer and will add extra moisture.
But the real winter hero product is moisturiser. ‘The combination of low temperatures and strong winds can strip away the skin’s moisture levels, stopping the skin from functioning as the body’s natural barrier,’ says Dr Griffiths. ‘Regularly applying moisturisers and lip salves can reduce these effects as they restore some much-needed moisture to dehydrated skin.’ Stay one step ahead of dull, flaky complexions by using omega rich formulas that help repair dry skin and replace its natural moisture barrier.
Try Sophyto’s Omega Daily Moisturiser, £ 17.25 or Madara’s Deep Replenishing Cream, £25. Neither contains retinoids, commonly found in anti-ageing moisturisers, which can irritate dry and sensitive winter skin but both are great for boosting moisture levels and help beat flakiness to boot.Very dry skins need a little extra help, so invest in a serum such as Antipodes Joyous Protein-Rich Night Serum, £36.99.
Exfoliate no more than once a week and use a mask for an extra boost. Angela Langford’s Scrub Up, £15.80 is gentle enough for delicate winter skin while Nude Skincare’s Intense Moisture Mask, £32 is great for giving skin an extra dose of TLC. Don’t leave your lips out in the cold either. The skin on your lips is some of your most delicate, so use a good quality lip balm such as Madara’s Ecolips Organic Softening Lip Balm, £9.90. If you want a shot of colour, check out Korres Pomegranate Lip Butter, £6. Not only does it do brilliant things for the skin, it comes in a shade of neon pink that’s bang on trend and is very uplifting to boot.
Beating the body blues
It’s easy to ignore flaky elbows and chapped heels when everything is hidden under swathes of fabric but try not to get lazy - now is when your body needs attention the most. Not only will you feel better after giving it a bit of care and attention, you’ll thank yourself come summer. Bath time is best for giving your skin special treatment and a long soak is good for your mood as well as your body.
Try Lush’s The Comforter Bubble Bar, £3.95. Not only does it turn your bath a wonderful shade of bright pink, it also smells gorgeous. A few drops of aromatherapy oils can really help boost your mood. ‘Citrus blends really can help refresh and revitalise, helping to boost positive thinking,’ says Geraldine. ‘Frankincense is also a fantastical oil that can help clear a busy mind and focus the thoughts.’
If you don’t fancy making your own, try Aromatherapy Associates Revive Morning Bath and Shower Oil, £37, which contains pink grapefruit, juniper berry and sweet orange – all of which are known for their uplifting properties. While you’re in there, deal with rough skin with a decent body scrub. Sophyto’s Dual Action Exfoliating Treatment, £23, provides just the right combination of exfoliating power, skin-improving nutrients and enzymes, and works just as well on the body as it does on the face.
If you’re washing your hair, give it some extra TLC with Rahua’s organic conditioner, £28, which is packed with lustre-boosting rahua oil. It’s great for sorting out cold-weather related split ends too. Once you’re out, make sure you moisturise as bathing can strip skin of the essential oils that carry most of the body’s vitamin C supplies. If vitamin C is allowed to escape, you can become more susceptible to colds and viruses.
Davina Peace’s Body Oil, £45 , is based on organic safflower, jojoba and crambe oils, all of which leave the skin feeling seriously soft and smooth. If you need an extra mood boost, try Ren’s Moroccan Rose Otto Body Oil, £32 or spritz on the Organic Pharmacy’s Organic Glam Jasmine fragrance, £112.50. It might be cold outside but with the aromas of rose and jasmine wafting around your bathroom, summer won’t seem so far away.
Karen Drake is the founder of Sophyto and an all-round skincare guru. For more information go to www.sophyto.co.uk
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