Lower humidity and less moisture in the air, along with temperature extremes between our nicely heated indoors to the cold outside can present a number of challenges for our skin, with the biggest complaint being dryness. Very hot water tends to be more drying on the skin and of course we tend to have hot showers streaming on our face. Hot humid climates help our skin to look fresher and dewy, so winter tends to give us a dry and dull appearance to the skin.
- A SEASONAL SKIN REVIEW: At Prescription Skin Care, we recommend all our patients have a “seasonal skin and product review”. Skincare products, including moisturisers and hydrating serums are certainly not one size fits all, and for each person what is needed to maintain healthy skin can vary throughout the year with both seasonal and lifestyle changes. It may be as simple as changing from a light hydrator to a more emollient moisturiser for the winter months. No matter how diligent someone has been with their sun-protection over the summer months, uneven pigmentation (think mottled brown spots) tend to increase, and post-summer is the perfect time to treat these with specific skin lightening and brightening products such as lytera by skinmedica or Ultra MD ultimate brightening serum. Not only do these give a more even skin tone, they also freshen up the skins appearance
Extremely popular at the moment, and for a very good reason, are the hydrating serums that contain hyaluronic acid, an ingredient that has the ability to retain up to 40 times its weight in water on the surface of the skin. They work by helping the skin to hold on to moisture and therefore replenish the skin’s moisture reservoir. For those with an oily skin type they may chose these instead of a traditional moisturiser, however for normal to dry skins and particularly in the winter months, applying a hydrating serum under your moisturiser is perfect. Some patients find no matter how emollient their moisturiser is, their skin still feels tight and dry and an HA (hyaluronic acid) serum will address this.
One of my favourites is the skinmedica hydrating complex which contains two types of hyaluronic acid along with other vitamins and skin hydrating ingredients.
- DON’T DITCH THE SUNBLOCK: The biggest skin myth is that sun protection products are only needed during the summer months, when outdoors. Truth is that the sun causes significant premature skin ageing, uneven pigmentation, and many other cosmetic concerns such as wrinkles, not to mention skin cancers and the key culprit (UVA) gets right through glass and cloud and is therefore damaging us even on a cloudy winters day. If thinking skin health, one must establish the habit of applying a zinc based sunscreen (zinc offers the best protection against UVA rays) to exposed areas prone to sun damage such as face, neck and backs of hands every day.
The good news is, that they are not all thick and white and the Elta MD products contain hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, so one product can be moisturising and protecting at the same time. I often tell my patients not to even think of it as a sunscreen, but rather their cheapest and best beauty product.
- SKIN TREATMENTS: Post summer is the ideal time for skin rejuvenation treatments. If people make their goal healthy skin, then the side effect of this will be fresh, gorgeous, dewy and hydrated skin. Although lighter, more superficial peels can be performed year round, many such as vitamin A peels or laser and light treatments, such as intense pulse light (IPL) are best saved for the winter months, for safer and more effective results.
Often, what people think is dry flaky skin, is in fact just a build up of dead skin cells and having some peels and/or IPL treatments will get the skin looking buffed and any hydration products will penetrate the skin more easily and be more effective, rather than just trying to moisturise dead skin cells. If not wanting to have in office treatments, there are treatment masks that can be used at home 2-3x a week such as an enzyme and hydrating masks, however, results achieved within a clinic offer faster and more dramatic improvements. I liken this to the clean you get at the dentist or with a hygienist versus what you can achieve brushing your teeth.
- INJECTABLE SKIN HYDRATORS: Dermal fillers such as Juvederm and Restylane are often thought of purely as treatments for lines and wrinkles or adding volume to areas such as cheeks, and although they do exactly this, as they are hyaluronic acid, they also add hydration to the skin. Products such as Juvederm volbella or Restylane vital, which are finer products, when injected into the skin, attract and retain water and therefore is a newer concept of deep skin hydration from within. These finer HA fillers also work well for dry lips, and other popular areas for injectable hydration, are the neck and the backs of the hands.
- SKIN HEALTH FROM THE INSIDE: It is easy to forget that the skin is the largest organ of our body, and is a reflection of our general state of health. Drinking plenty of water is an essential part of maintaining skin cell moisture. It is easy to pick when someone is generally dehydrated. A simple pinch of the skin on the back of the hand will demonstrate this. The longer it stays pinched up the more dehydrated the skin is. Humectant ingredients in moisturisers and hydrating serums such as hyaluronic acid, glycerine and urea work by retaining and attracting water to the skin, but the hydration has to be there to start with, which highlights the importance of maintaining adequate hydration internally.
A lot of people tell me they are good in summer with drinking water when the weather is hot, but find it harder in the winter months which is when herbal teas or warm water with lemon work well. Combining this with a diet rich in antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids, and minimising moisture depleters such as alcohol and caffeine also help if struggling with winter dry and dull skin.