Preparing for winter: tips for dry skin


Now that the weather is cooling down here in Australia, like many dry-skinned lasses I'm starting to think about what I can do to protect my skin as the temperature drops.

Every winter, almost without fail, the hydration seems to vanish from my skin and I'm often left with red, flaky patches around my nose and mouth. This is a beauty-lover's nightmare: not only does your skin feel uncomfortable, but applying makeup over this mess is like walking on eggshells, and so often you're left with little foundation-coloured flakes on your face that are a dead give away if you're going for a natural look. They also don't look that great either ; )

So what I thought I'd do is set out some tips I've learned over the years to help stave off dry, winter skin. I don't always manage to avoid the dreaded flake-fest, but I've certainly learned to minimse it over time so it's not as bad and doesn't last as long.

Start from the inside

In summer we're more inclined to drink lots of water in the heat, and our diets can be better because we feel less like heavy, comfort food and tend to eat lighter stuff. I'm sure this is one of the reasons why our skin suffers in the cooler months, so have a think about what you're putting in your body and how this may be impacting your skin.

Stay hydrated and make sure you're eating a balanced diet. I'm also a fan of taking multivitamins because I feel better when I do, so that's something to consider if you're not sure that you're eating enough goodies to help your skin survive the cold. Also, good fats found in eg fish and olive/linseed oils can help keep your skin glowing and your hair and nails nicely strong.

Think twice about that bath

Soaking for ages in a hot bath or shower can really dry your skin out. Sure, it can force the chill from your bones - but your skin may suffer from it so try to keep the baths and showers more mild, and don't stay in there for too long. 

Similarly, avoid the temptation of cranking up the heater and curling up before it. The more heat your skin's exposed to, the drier it may be. So keep the temperature mild and layer on the clothing instead.

Moisturise, and keep moisturising

I always use about twice the amount of moisturiser in winter than I do in summer, and I'm sure I'm not the only one! But moisturising can help, and not all moisturisers are created equal so it's worth investing in a good one to help your skin through the cooler months.

Keep an eye out for products like balms and oils, since these can form a protective barrier between your skin and the elements. The good ones also absorb nicely, delivering moisture where it's needed most. If you don't know what to look for, it's worth finding a sales assistant at your favourite outlet who knows their stuff. If shopping online, do your research and look for products that have gained favourable reviews from those with skin similar to yours.

Don't forget your body

This is easy to do in the cooler months, particularly because your body spends a large amount of its winter life covered by heavy clothing so you're less likely to care about whether it looks presentable. But I personally don't like the feeling of dry skin, and I also don't want to get to the end of winter and find that the skin on my body is dull and my feet and elbows have all but cracked into a thousand tiny pieces.

You don't need to spend big to keep your body in good shape over winter. Choose a hydrating body cream or oil, and slather on a balm in spots where it's at its driest. Eg I often use paw paw ointments on my feet year-round, and this can help them stay nourished and comfortable.

Don't over-exfoliate

Gosh it's tempting to do this when your skin starts to flake in winter! One look at those dry patches makes me want to take to my face with sandpaper on a daily basis, but over-exfoliating can make a bad situation worse.

You know your skin so just exfoliate as much as you can tolerate: for me, I stick to once or twice a week and I tend to opt for chemical exfoliants over rough scrubs these days because scrubs can be overly harsh and do more damage than good. So go gently on the scrubby matter and treat your skin to hydrating products, rather than trying to hack off the dry surface with heavy-duty exfoliants. Your skin will thank you for it ; )

Go easy on the treatments

Related to the above, while I personally feel I can go to town with hydrating treatments and masks in winter, be careful of treatments that can have an abrasive effect on your skin. It's not a good time to go overboard on harsh peels and drying masks, which if used too often can have an adverse impact on skin.

So add more hydrating treatments to your skincare routine if you need to, but steer clear of anything that's going to dry your skin out even more if used too often. If in doubt, do your research: there's a lot of helpful information online these days from skincare experts (eg Caroline Hirons) so have a look at what they say about the kinds of treatments you're using.

Analyse your skincare

Now's the time to go through your skincare and work out if anything you own contains ingredients that may be drying or irritating for your skin. 

That toner you use could be loaded with alcohol, and some of your cleansers may be too astringent and are better off saved for summer or avoided altogether. I've recently learned to be careful of foaming cleansers and rough scrubs, so have a look at what you own and see whether anything could be contributing to your dry winter skin.

Don't forget the sunscreen!

In summer we're more likely to remember our daily SPF, but in winter it's easy to believe that you don't need it. Wrong! I personally wear SPF all year round, and while I may save my SPF 50+ for summer, now's the time when I slap on hydrating products that contain enough sunscreen to see me through the cooler months.

I think people are much more sun-smart these days than they used to be, but winter's the time when we get lazy with our sun protection. Don't! Look at it as 'future-proofing' your face against premature ageing, and use sunscreen even on those cold days when the sun is all but forgotten.

Reconsider your makeup

This one's often forgotten, but I think it's important. Analyse your makeup as you would your skincare: are you using a drying, silicone-based primer; is it time to forgo the powder foundation and use a liquid instead; are any of your products getting old and potentially irritating?

Makeup can be drying and ageing on the skin, so don't wear too much powder and try to let your skin breathe. It's also worth washing off your face as soon as you get home and slapping on the hydrating moisturiser, to give your skin as much rest from makeup as possible.

In sum

That's it! I could go on and on about this topic for days, but I think that's more than enough for one post ; )

I hope there's something in there that's useful for you, and do let me know any tips you may have for staving off flaky skin in winter: I'd love to hear.

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