MY TOP TIPS TO BEAT THE WINTER SKIN BLUES
Updated: Oct 5, 2022
This is our fifth winter here in Oregon after having spent the previous 30-something (lol) winters in Central California. The weather is a quite different, as you can imagine! The last few years my skin has FREAKED OUT with the sudden change in temperature and and cold, wet weather, forcing me to dig into the science behind why our skin changes from season to season and learning about what I can do from a nutrition & lifestyle perspective to give myself a fighting chance.
Like did you know that during the winter months many of us experience flares from dry skin conditions, such as eczema, milia, dermatitis, psoriasis, KP (keratosis pilaris), rosacea, dandruff, lupus flares, or even simply drier than normal skin. I have chronic dry skin so I can attest to all of this!
There are multiple reasons winter can cause flares:
1️⃣ Less sun. Vitamin D absorption thru sunlight is essential for skin and overall health. Ever notice how you’re always glowing after a day at the beach?! And um hello...it rains like 9 months out of the year here in Oregon!
2️⃣ Eating more sugar, refined carbs and/or alcohol. From Halloween to New Years' many of us consume more sugar, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol than usual. This can change our gut’s microbiome, hormones, and trigger inflammation.
3️⃣ It’s dry and cold! This can cause your skin’s own protective system to break down.
Now, let's talk about my 6 best tips for the best winter skin.
1) WATER: This is one of the easiest changes you can make. When I say water, I mean the amount of water you're drinking and also the temperature of water you use to shower and wash your face.
Make sure you're drinking half your bodyweight in ounces of water per day. If you weigh 200 lbs, this would be 100 ounces of water spread evenly throughout the day. Here is a fun water bottle I have been using to get my gallon a day in!
Hot water can be overly drying for those with a damaged skin barrier. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to use luke-warm water (not much hotter than our body temp) when showering and washing our face. This allows us to get clean without over-drying or stripping too many of our skin’s natural oils which are essential to protecting us - inside & out.
2) USE THE RIGHT OILS: I’m going to let you in on a little secret, facial oil is the key to skin aging like a fine wine. Our skin NEEDS lipids! They’re a big ol’ drink of water for your skin. Our skin naturally produces oil but as we age or have inflammation our oil and collagen production decreases, resulting in dry skin symptoms. Lack of oil in the skin can lead to dry patches/flaky skin, fine lines, wrinkles, and breakouts (yes, acne from being too dry).
The right oils also help to tackle specific skin concerns such as reduce your own oil production, fight breakouts, plump from lost hydration, brighten and reduce redness or irritation. They really do work with every skin type! And hello glow!!!!!
The wrong type of oils on the wrong person can be occlusive. For example, coconut oil doesn’t add nutrient value to the skin and is pore-clogging. There are many brand out there that carry a good quality facial oil. I have been using Pomifera Oil and am loving the benefits so far. Pomifera oil is useful in calming rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, soothing cuts and burns, eliminating cold sores, helping acne, healing scars, athlete's foot and nourishing hair. It is rich in Omega 6 fatty acids (you need both Omega 6 and Omega 3's in your life) and is UV protective.
3) EXFOLIATE: Cool, dry air accelerates water loss from the skin, which can leave skin looking rough, dry, and dull. Exfoliation is REALLY important, no matter your skin type! If your makeup cakes, flakes, or doesn’t sit well, if you have dry, combo, or oily skin, if you have milia, rosacea, you need to exfoliate! Hello...benefits of dry brushing!
Exfoliating removes the dead skin cells that clog pores, improves circulation, encourages cell turnover, and results in better absorption of skincare. In order to help new cells form while you sleep you must remove the dry, dead skin with either a physical and/or chemical exfoliation.
4) DON'T STRIP YOUR SKIN: Our skin’s epidermis is made up of 5 layers with the stratum corneum, the moisture barrier, as the outermost layer. It consists of about 20 layers of specialized skin cells and keratin that are continuously renewing and exist to protect your insides. Eyelids are thinner while layers such as your hands and heels are thicker.
Think of your skin like brick and mortar: the bricks are mostly made up of keratin, a protein also found in hair and nails. The mortar is made out of lipids that float into the space between the bricks as protection. Together it forms the skin’s protective barrier.
Ready for some science-y stuff?
The stratum corneum is slightly acidic with a pH of ~ 4-5.5 (aka the acid mantle). This helps form an effective, waterproof barrier to the outside world, preventing epidermal water loss (drying out) and pathogens like bacteria and toxins from coming in, according to Pharmalinegroup.com . This is why our skin NEEDS a 4 step process: wash (exfoliate), prep (tone pH), then treat and protect the moisture barrier with lipids.
The most commonly skipped step is the PREP, but its become my favorite! Prep balances acidity allowing your skin flora to thrive, sweeps impurities away, helps the skin better absorb your skincare, evens skin tone, and reduces pore size.
Think about it this way: Your skin is like a sponge. Cream on a bone-dry sponge won't absorb. But, if you wet the sponge the cream will sink in. Similarly, large pores are commonly a dry skin issue, like dry earth with cracks. Reducing moisture exacerbates it, but proper levels let the good in and keep bad out, with no cracks or divots.
5) SPF IS YOUR BFF: Remember how I mentioned low Vitamin D is a reason our skin acts up in the winter? Yes, you need sunlight, but we don’t want sun damage (it causes 80-90% of the signs of aging). You also want to make sure you’re well moisturized before heading out into cold, dry winter air! I love Impress Skincare's mineral-based sunscreen which contains zinc and is anti-inflammatory.
I use a facial oil + Impress PrimeShade, a tinted moisturizer that contains natural ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide rather than dangerous chemicals that release free radicals inside the skin, to protect and still achieve truly dewy, glowing skin. Facial oils are amazing even if you have oily skin!
6) ADD HUMIDITY: Another reason winter is such a harsh season for our skin is due to the lack of humidity in the air. Adding a humidifier to your home can increase the moisture in the air which will help your skin retain moisture and avoid becoming as dry. Here is a great one I found on Amazon.
There you have it! My very best tips for dry, winter skin. I hope this is of benefit to those of you who are struggling like I was in the past. This winter has been so much better!