With the freezing weather in our southern hemisphere winter, we tend to crank up the heaters, fireplaces and heat pumps. Although this may feel more comfortable, this artificial heat is damaging to the skin. By turning the heat up, we further worsen the damaging effects the extreme temperature changes have on our skin.
As many of us head out to the gym and Winter sports throughout the week, it is essential to make sure we protect our largest organ the skin. With that in mind, we have created five tips to help protect and prepare your skin during the chilly Winter months.
1. Regulate shower temperature, not too hot.
One of the first things many of us will do is crank up the heat on the shower and stay under the heat longer. Though this makes us feel more comfortable, it is damaging for the skin as the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) notes. (1) And though taking a hot shower might seem like an excellent way to warm up, hot water dries out your skin by stripping it of its natural oils.
Protect your skin by showering in warm water, not hot water. Drinking an extra glass or two of water a day will help to keep your skin looking fresh and your body hydrated.
Winter air is dry, so creating a room in your home where the moisture is regulated is vital to maintaining skin health. A humidifier in the bedroom is one way to keep balanced moisture particularly if you have the fire blazing and home heating on full bore. It might seem odd to add moisture to the air when trying to stay warm, but the chilliness in the air is very drying. Your skin will thank you for it.
For our weekend warriors and active people who live life on the go, sunblock is a must. Cooler temperature does not mean the sun is any less damaging. So the "slip slop slap" message still applies. Sunblock sales go through the roof in summer and taper off in winter because of the perceived lower risk. There is still enough UV in that sun hiding behind the clouds to cause ageing. UVA rays in particular “are the ones that do all of the damage when it comes to premature ageing.”
Moisturiser is one of the most effective ways to protect the skin in Winter months. The best time to apply moisturiser and body butter is immediately after showering and bathing. Make sure to dab dry, leaving the skin moist to then apply moisturizer or body butter to lock in moisture which prevents chapped skin during winter months.
Use a gentle cleanser that is non-agitating and close to your natural skin PH. I have had this issue myself in the past where a cleanser has negatively affected my skin with the change of season. Gentle cleansing is a must, and you need your skin barrier to be as healthy as possible so that it can retain vital moisture. There's often a misconception that if your skin feels tight, it's squeaky clean. As a general rule if your skin feels tight after washing it is likely that the cleanser you are using has disrupted your skin barrier. Your skin should feel calm and hydrated after washing.