Halloween (and the jazz weekend) are behind us, and Christmas FM is nearly live, and it is officially totally acceptable to start planning for silly season! Winter is not aways the most extreme experience in Ireland (aside from Storm Emma, followed by what felt like endless flooding) but there is a big enough change to warrant reassessing your skincare routine if you’d like to avoid dry, flaking, grey skin…
Moisturise like it’s going out of fashion
Simple and straightforward, but you’d be surprised how easily people forget to switch to a heavier day cream or more moisturising foundation until after dry, flaky patches appear. Nip this one in the bud before it’s an issue, by adding in an extra step or switching one of your current products for a more heavy duty one. As with anything moisture-related, oily skins beware, and dry skins may need to combine a few steps. Some of the below may work for you:
- Switching your cleanser to a non-foaming or cream cleanser – Cetaphil(available in most pharmacies, Boots, etc) is cheap as chips and one of the most gentle available. I would only recommend this for very dry skins, those prone to congestion will not be happy.
- Using a hydrating toner or this spray from La Roche-Posay (to be honest, any of the French pharmacy brands do great ones), you can also carry this with you to spritz on during the day or on a flight (but it may not work with your make up – trial and error is the only way to find out I’m afraid). You could also treat your self to the Ultimate Boost Serum from Alumier MD, it is the holy grail of hyaluronic acid serums, and has yet to break my fussy skin out.
- Change your foundation or tinted moisturiser – I use Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturiser year round, but tend to stick to the oil-free one for summer and the regular one going into the winter.
- Suncream is still your friend – yes I know it essentially rains in Ireland from October to April and there’s not exactly a stretch in the evenings, but the factor 50 is still good for protecting your skin from wind and cold alike, and moisturises at the same time. Some of my favourites include Obagi’s Hydrafactor, this spray from Garnier, and Sheer Hydration Versatile Tint from Alumier MD (which also takes away that sickly winter pallor).
- Don’t forget about the rest of you – coconut oil was always my go-to body moisturiser, but I have fallen completely and utterly in love with Ameliorate’s Transforming Body Lotion. It is actually insanely good at getting rid of dead skin cells, ingrown hairs, keratosis pilaris and leaving you with perfectly smooth skin. The magic ingredient is lactic acid. This hydrates and encourage dead skin cells to say bye-bye. You use it morning and night for about a month, and then I’ve found once every second day is enough to maintain baby bottom smoothness. I also love Nuxe Body Oil for a bit of fragrance and luxury on top if I’m heading out.
Dry, rough skin can be impossible to cure with moisturisation alone – dead skin cells on the surface can prevent the best face cream in the world from reaching its target. Gentle, daily exfoliation can be necessary for some skin types, while others will find once to twice a week is plenty. I’ve noted my love for Alumier MD’s Bright and Clear (available from our online portal, mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to buy it) numerous times, and I honestly don’t know if there is a more effective acid exfoliant out there, that is gentle on skin too. Once again, the hero ingredient here is lactic acid – hydrating and exfoliating. About a week to ten days of increased dryness can be expected when you start using this, as the dead skin cells flake off.
A course of chemical peels can be another way to help shed dead skin cells, brighten skin and improve texture. They can be tailored to most skin types, and you can read more about them here or book one here.
Up your omega intake
Moisturising from the inside out is one of my favourite tricks for fighting dry skin throughout the winter, especially if your skin is as sensitive as mine and has a freaker if it is drowned in rich creams to prevent dryness (which ridiculously will also happen without said creams – sometimes you really just can’t win). Omega-3 and omega-6 are both essential fatty acids – this means our body cannot make them, and therefore we need to get them from our diet. The Western diet is usually abundant in omega-6, but you might be missing out on sufficient omega-3. Omega-3 converts to EPA (eicospentaenoic acid), which improves skin moisture and can decrease inflammation (both are very useful for eczema, acne and other skin complaints). There are some pretty good omega-3 (fish oil) supplements on the market, and my go-to skin supplement is Skinade, but increasing your intake of oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel) and flaxseeds can really help too. 2 tablespoons of flaxseeds contains a considerable 3500mg of omega-3, so you could even eat a vegan diet and still knock your intake out of the park. Flaxseeds can be added to most bread mixtures, granola or mueslis, and even smoothies. I like to use flaxseed oil on salads and in smoothies, or sprinkle freshly ground seeds on my porridge.
Dry Body Brushing
This is one of the best habits to make before the festive season gets into full swing. Legs tend to get forgotten about once we start bundling up in layers, and although you may find your tan fading slightly quicker, realistically we all know we’re going to be reaching for the St Tropez asap now that Halloween is over. I have mentioned how to go about this before but here’s a quick recap:
- 5 minutes brushing, before you shower/run/go to the gym etc
- Start with your feet and brush in firm, circular strokes, working your way upwards towards your heart
- Ditto for the arms, back, torso
- Avoid any broken skin
- Do not use on your face or décolletage
- Daily brushing does make a big difference to skin texture, and has been noted to improve the appearance of cellulite – and combined with regular moisturising will ensure the said St Tropez glides on smoothly.
Obviously the above list is not exhaustive, but I have found these techniques are actually worth the effort. If all else fails, you can always fake it, but I would really love to know if you’ve tried any of these – and if you have your own essential steps for glowing skin all winter long?