“Over the winter months the harsh temperature can leach moisture from the skin leading to dryness, flaking and even skin irritation. And if you are of African descent or you have mature skin, you’ll notice these changes even more,” shares EV expert Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme. Why? Well, Black skin has a comparatively lower amount of ceramides compared to other skin tones. Ceramides hold skin cells together to keep the protective skin barrier intact. When you have less of them you experience more moisture loss, which means you’re more prone dryness which can be exacerbated in the winter months. “While mature skin has less glycosaminoclycans (GAGS). These are the body's natural moisturisers as they help to draw water into your skin and keep it hydrated, so less of them means moisture loss happens more frequently in mature skin,” explains Dr Ejikeme.
However, whatever your age or skin tone, we are all prone winter dryness, so keep reading for our expert approved winter skin solutions…
Boost hydrationMoisture loss is unavoidable when the weather is cold and windy, but many of us are losing even more moisture when we crank up the central heating too. Compound this with the fact that according to EV expert Dr Anna Hemming, “we start losing 1 per cent of our own hyaluronic acid from the age of 20 and by 50 we have lost somewhere around 50 per cent of the HA we need to maintain skin health.”
Hyaluronic acids main function is to retain water which helps keep skin moist, so as we lose moisture during the winter months and naturally through the ageing process – adding HA into your winter skincare routine is a must.
At home this can come by way of a HA serum while there are a number of in clinic treatments to up the ante. “Hydrafacial infuses hyaluronic acid in through the skin to the active skin cells to plump and boost hydration. While injectable treatment Profhilo that deposits a high dose of HA into the dermis – the middle and thickest layer of skin. Here it initially draws in moisture and hydrates the dermis and then over the course of a few weeks it stimulates collagen formulation. This is because HA is a building block for collagen and elastin production which strengthens the skin – making it an all-round excellent treatment for winter hydration and superficial skin tightening,” shares Dr Hemming.
Switch to gentle exfoliantsIf skin is feeling sensitive during the winter (which if not looked after it can), you may want to ditch exfoliation, but you shouldn’t. Dead skin cells on the surface of the skin mixed with dry flaky skin can reduce how well your products are absorbed. This makes exfoliation to slough off dead skin a must, however, what you exfoliate with is important and may need to be adjusted. “Ditch physical exfoliants, and opt for a gentle chemical exfoliant like urea instead,” says Dr Ejikeme.
Like the name suggests physical exfoliants get physical with your skin, and while some can be somewhat gentle and made of small buffing particles like sugar, others can contain larger exfoliants like fruit pits, and nut shells that can cause micro-tears in the skin. Urea on the other hand, is a moisturising humectant, that helps keep skin hydrated, but it also gently breaks down the protein keratin in the outer layer of your skin. This action can help reduce dead skin build-up and get rid of flaking or scaling skin without agitating it.
Protect your barrier“The skin is part of the body’s immune defence acting as barrier from the outside world. Essentially helping to keep the good (like water) in and the bad out. This barrier function is put to task during the winter months. When the barrier is impaired, there is more free water loss making the skin feel dry, sensitive or irritated,” explains Dr Dr Ejikeme.
In the summer skin tends to hold on to more water thanks to higher levels of humidity, which means that for many of us gel moisturisers or light lotions are all that’s needed to keep skin hydrated. But once winter hits we all, irrespective of our skin types or tones will need to address the issue of water loss. This is where a winter appropriate moisturiser comes into play. Choose one with a hefty dose of non-comedogenic emollients like jojoba oil, as this blocks moisture from escaping from the skin without blocking pores.
Anna Hemming, Aesthetic Doctor
Dr Anna Hemming MBChB BSc DFFP MRCGP is a highly respected and skilled aesthetic doctor working in London. Conference...Book with Anna Hemming