Does your skin seem to change during the winter? When the temperature drops, do you start noticing dryness, tightness, flakiness, or even an increase in fine lines? You’re not alone — people who live in temperate climates almost always have to switch things up to compensate for the loss of moisture in winter. Here are some easy tips to keep your skin looking plump, hydrated, and healthy:
Avoid very hot showers.
This might make you groan inwardly. After all, one of the pleasures of cold weather is stepping in to a nice, steamy shower, right? Unfortunately, all that hot water can help strip your skin.
The idea of hot water “opening pores” is also a myth. Pores don’t have independent muscles that allow them to open and close like that, so there’s little benefit to using hot water to cleanse skin.
Switch from humectants to occlusives.
Moisturizers come in several different types. Ingredients like hyaluronic acid or aloe are what’s known as “humectants,” or ingredients that moisturize skin by attracting water into themselves. This is normally a great thing but can become a problem in winter. When the heat’s on, there’s little humidity in the air. That means that there’s not much for the humectants to pull moisture from — other than your skin. Using humectant moisturizers several times a day in dry weather can make dry skin worse.
Instead, it’s a good idea to swap to richer moisturizers known as “occlusives.” (Think jojoba oil or squalene.) These trap moisture instead of attracting it. Wash your face, and, while your skin is hydrated and slightly damp, apply a thin layer of an occlusive moisturizer. If you want to use a humectant serum, that’s fine — just make sure that your skin is slightly damp when you apply it, apply an occlusive moisturizer over it, and follow these other hydration tips to make sure there’s enough moisture for them to hold on to.
Being told to “drink water” might seem like a no-brainer, but water consumption often drops during winter. You’re probably not sweating and trying to cool down, so it’s not uncommon to miss your eight glasses of eight ounces of water a day. Since the air is so dry, you might want to up your intake by a little bit to offset this.
Collagen hydrolysate is a broken-down, usually powdered, form of the same collagen that our bodies use to create healthy skin, bones, and muscles. While the collagen you eat won’t all go directly to your skin, it does provide you with the amino acids your body needs to repair, restore, and hold on to your skin’s own natural collagen.
Research has shown that eight weeks of oral collagen supplementation significantly increased skin hydration and collagen density. Keep an eye on your serving sizes, however — experts say that you need at least 10 grams per day to be helpful.
Set up a humidifier.
Most of your skin’s winter issues can be traced back to a lack of moisture in the air, so why not attack the problem at its source? A humidifier helps boost skin health by introducing moisture directly into the air. You can use a large one to humidify a room, or a smaller, desktop version pointed toward you while you work or study.
As a side benefit, humidifiers can help keep your respiratory system healthy, too. A loss of moisture in the air can dry out mucous membranes, leading to congestion, irritation, and discomfort.
Avoid over exfoliating.
You might want to give your regular exfoliation schedule a pass during winter. If your skin is already feeling the effects of a loss of moisture, exfoliating too much can just make the problem worse. You want to keep your skin’s lipid layer in good repair so it can hold on to moisture and stay healthy.
Eat healthy fats.
Your skin relies heavily on lipids for moisture and overall health. Help it by making sure that you’re getting enough fat in your diet. This doesn’t mean you should snack on greasy foods full of saturated fats, however — you want to go for foods high in omega-3. It’s anti-inflammatory and contributes to skin health, and eating enough fat also ensures that you’re able to properly absorb important fat-soluble vitamins.
If your skin seems to take a downturn every time the heat kicks on, don’t worry. Not only are you in good company, but the problems that you’re likely experiencing are temporary and fixable. By adjusting your skincare routine and making some minor seasonal lifestyle adjustments, you can keep your skin plump, healthy, and youthful looking all year long.