In winter, those environmental aggressors low humidity, cold winds, UV rays and pollution can attack your skin, increasing its sensitivity and compromising its protective barrier. A few simple protective measures can help keep your skin glowing.
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At the core of any skin complaint in winter is low-humidity. Icy temperatures and wind cause accelerated water loss from the skin. Combined, these damage the skin's natural protective function and dehydrate it, leaving it prone to chapping and cracking and, in some cases, infection.
Central heating and open fires, long, hot showers and baths don't help either.
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A simple case of dry skin can exacerbate pre-existing conditions, such as dermatitis or eczema, as well as minor, yet irritating complaints, such as hangnails. It can also mean irritations and allergic reactions from which you may not usually suffer. Thankfully, there are preventive measures and solutions to surviving the elements this winter.
No matter what your skin type, all types are prone to dehydration. Twenty percent of the skin's moisture sits above the epidermis, which is where most moisture loss occurs, but in winter, moisture loss can occur below the epidermis, too. The result is severe dehydration.
Exfoliate regularly with a mild cream or mask, to gently buff away the dead cells on the skin's surface and assist moisture absorption. Turn to a richer moisturiser to help address the fragile skin barrier and replace lost hydration.
Try: Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant, $61; Phyt'ssima Soin Visage Nutrition Extrême Restoring Lipid Replenishing Dry to Very Dry Skin, $90.50.
Eczema mostly appears in the form of itchy, scaly and inflamed skin. It's usually worse in winter, due to a reduction in skin hydration and an upset barrier function. Anything that changes the lipid layer aggravates the problem, such as overuse of soaps.
Use a neutral pH soap substitute and, if skin is dry, apply an unscented moisture cream or sorbolene after a shower.
Try: Aveeno Active Naturals Skin Relief Shower & Bath Oil, $12.95, and Skin Relief Moisturising Cream, $14.95; SebaMed Cleansing Shower Oil, from $5.50; In Essence Aromatherapy Eczema Relief Cream, $24.95.
Broken capillaries and redness
Extreme, temperatures, pollution and UV rays can cause capillaries to break and redness to occur.
Protect skin with a high-SPF sun block. Once a capillary wall has burst, laser treatment or IPL is the only way to reverse the damage. Address redness with soothing skincare.
Try: Palmer's Skin Success Skin Stress Cream, $19.95; Clinique CX Redness Relief Cream, $160; Emergin C D-Red Daytime Emulsion for Red/Sensitive/Cuperous Skin, $105.
Stinging, sensitive skin
This can occur when you apply a product, and is generally a reaction to an ingredient, such as AHA or retinol. Over-exfoliating could be another cause.
Look for products containing allantoin, anti-oxidant vitamins A and E, lavender and chamomile all of which are healing and strengthening.
Try: Clarins Paris Sérum Multi-Réparateur Restructurant Skin Beauty Repair Concentrate, $82; JW Judith White Organic Skin For Troubled Or Sensitive Skin Day Moisturizer, $34.
Chapped hands, hangnails, splitting nails
The daily battering of hands and nails intensifies in winter, due to exposure to water, cold air and UV rays.
Smother hands in a rich, hydrating hand cream. Apply a nail hardener to protect the nail, and massage healing balms and creams into the nail bed to prevent hangnails.
Try: Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Intensive Moisturising Hand Treatment, $34; Badger Cuticle Care, $13.50; Sally Hansen Get Strong Multi-Vitamin Nail Strengthener, $12.95.
Cold air and icy winds can take their toll on the fragile skin around the eyes.
Wear wraparound sunglasses, invest in a soothing eye cream and always use an eye make-up remover.
Try: Matis Paris Contour Des Yeux Biphase Eyes & Lips Make-up Remover, $46; Nivea Visage Aqua Sensation Anti-Shadow Eye Creme, $13.80; MD Skincare Continuous Eye Hydration, $70.
Circulation tends to become sluggish in winter, which can result in a dull complexion.
Invest in radiance-enhancing skincare, to add luminosity.
Try: Eventone Blemish Free Radiance Daily Moisturiser, $39.95; Lancôme Bienfait Multi-Vital High Potency Moisturiser with Micro-
Dry, scaly skin on body
Legs, elbows and knees can really suffer in winter, as can shins and upper arms, which may experience dry, small bumps. Blame environmental factors, but also certain fabrics such as synthetics and wool can irritate skin.
Keep skin smooth with dry body brushing. It will also slough away dead skin cells. Post-shower, drench skin in moisture by applying hydrating body lotion.
Try: Dermadoctor KP Duty Dermatologist Moisturizing Therapy for Dry Skin, $95; In Essence Ultra Rich Body Balm, $39.95; A'Kin Lavender & Geranium Body Moist, $20.
Dry chapped lips
Lips have no oil glands to keep them naturally hydrated, making them particularly vulnerable to dehydration in winter. Add constant licking
and sipping of hot drinks, and lips can become chapped in no time.
Apply high SPF lip protectors when outdoors, and smother in hydrating, soothing lip balm at night to heal and repair.
Try: Blistex Lip Infusion Sheer Liquid Lip Balm SPF12, $4.95; Sally Hansen Chapped Lip Repair, $13.95.