Winter is well and truly here, which means your skin may be having a bit of a rough time. Dryness, itchiness and irritation are all quite normal reactions to cold conditions. But just because these skin reactions are the norm, doesn’t mean you have to put up with them. So we spoke to a leading dermatologist to find out how to keep your skin in tip-top shape through the cooler months.
Dr Saxon Smith says looking after your skin doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, but you should pay it at least a little attention every day. Smith says there are three critical steps to follow: washing with soap-free products, avoiding hot, long showers or baths and moisturising regularly.
1. Washing with soap-free products
Traditional soap bars can be very drying on the skin as they contain detergents that are great at removing daily grease and grime from our skin, but also fantastic at stripping much-needed natural oils from the skin. This is a big concern because as we age, our skin doesn’t hold its natural moisturising factors — elements that keep the outer layer of the skin protected — as well.
“Stripping the natural moisturising factors from the skin damages the barrier function of the skin which can make the skin dry, dull and prone to flaking and itch,” he says, explaining if you’re prone to dry skin in winter or dermatitis, these traditional bar soaps will lead to further flare ups.
As an alternative, Smith recommends looking for a product that is labelled soap-free such as Nature’s Remedy Body Bar Oatmeal 100g and Only Olive Soap Guest Soap. (You can find more sensitive skincare products on our Marketplace!) However, he cautions that some natural soap products may still contain detergent-like ingredients, so it’s best to read the ingredients list first. If in doubt, Smith says to avoid products with ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulphate and other sulphates listed on the back.
2. Avoiding, hot, long showers or baths
The longer the bath or shower and the hotter the water you use, the more natural oils and moisture will be stripped from your skin. Instead, Smith recommends opting for shorter and slightly colder showers. “Obviously in winter this can be challenging,” Smith says, adding: “Therefore, moisturising your skin every day is key.”
3. Moisturise regularly
Smith recommends moisturising your skin immediately after you step out of the shower as it keeps your skin hydrated and replaces any lost natural moisturising factors from the showering or bath process.
When it comes to choosing a moisturiser, Smith says it’s best to keep the seasons in mind. “In winter you need a thicker cream or even an ointment to hydrate the skin because of the heating/air conditioning as well as the tendency to have hotter, longer showers,” he explains. “Whereas in summer a lighter cream or even a lotion often suffices.”
Smith also recommends choosing products that have the highly-effective moisturising ingredient glycerin included, like Nature’s Remedy Intensive Balm 100ml which not only has glycerin, but is also made with goat’s milk (which is jam-packed with skin-loving nutrients), almond oil and chamomile.
Meanwhile, if you have sensitive skin, Smith says it’s best to stick to sensitive skin product ranges and to avoid fragrances, which can sometimes cause irritation. A good rule of thumb when starting a new product is to only apply a small amount on one area of your skin rather than slathering the product all over your face or body. Give it a few hours, and if you have no reaction, continue to use.
Prone to dry skin in winter but not sure where to look? The good news is, our Marketplace stocks a wide range of sensitive skincare products. For example, you can pick up the Hydrating Face Cream – Daytime 50ml from Australian brand Billie Goat for just $14.95. The product is made with goat’s milk, grapeseed oil and cocoa butter. You can find more skincare products from Billie Goat here.
There’s also a variety of facial cleansers up for sale too, such as Absolute Avocado Cleanser Guest Soap and Australian Pink Clay Cleanser by the Australian Natural Soap Company. You can find more of their skincare products here.
Q: How can I hydrate my skin in winter?
A: Opt for soap-free products, avoid taking long, hot showers and regularly moisturise.
Q: What does winter do to your skin?
A: Harsh winter winds mixed with dry indoor heat and hot showers can wreak havoc on your skin, leading to dryness, itchiness and irritation.
Q: Who’s more prone to sensitive skin?
A: Sensitive skin is more common in people who suffer from eczema, dermatitis, asthma and hay fever.