Cold comforts: Winter playing havoc with your looks Don't panic, you CAN weather-proof chapped skin
Created 8:25 PM on 28th November 2010
Winter is here with a vengeance. Not for the first time this year, the country’s been gripped by biting, icy winds, deep frosts and — in some places — snow.
Conditions like this present a real challenge to your skin. Cold air holds considerably less moisture than warm air (for example, when the temperature is 33c, the air holds around ten times as much moisture as when it’s minus 3c), creating a very dry environment for skin.
Add to the mix cold wintery winds and toasty central heating and you have a perfect recipe for dehydrated skin and dry, frizzy hair.
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While dog walkers and skiers have it worst of all, even if you’re just outside for a brief time, it’s all too easy to end up with chapped lips and flaky, red skin. The key to maintaining healthy, glowing skin through the winter months is ensuring you take in enough liquids.
Cold weather tends to make us less thirsty. And the dry, cold air we breathe in is humidified by our bodies before we breathe it out. So we lose water just by breathing.
So drinking more fluids is key.
But you need to make sure the hydration gets to the skin, too. The key is finding products that contain a combination of two types of ingredient, humectants such as hyaluronic acid and urea, which draw the water we drink to the skin, and occlusives such as paraffin and lanolin, which help to lock in the moisture so it can’t escape.
If you want to check how hydrated your skin is, look at your lips. They tend to be particularly sensitive to cold weather. If they’re dry, it’s a sign you need to pay more attention to them and to the rest of your body. If lips are prone to chapping, repair and protect them with Lanolips Tinted Lip Ointments, 7.99 (victoriahealth.com).
A gentle exfoliating session a couple of times a week can work wonders to slough off patches of dry skin — try using an old toothbrush on your lips and oatmeal massaged into your face. Oats are not only a gentle scrub, but also a natural remedy for dry skin.
If lips are chapped, or skin looks red, avoid exfoliating, as you’re likely to irritate it further.
Always follow exfoliation with a good moisturiser. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get something effective. The new Johnson’s Daily Essentials range for dry skin includes cleansing wipes, a cream cleanser, a day cream with SPF15 and a night cream, and is priced from 2.99.
Extreme weather can sometimes wreak havoc on your skin to such an extent that anything you put on stings. If that’s the case, look for products that don’t contain the preservatives that can irritate sensitive complexions. Try the hypoallergenic Barefoot Botanicals SOS Face & Body Cream, 9.95 (barefoot-botanicals.com).
If there’s a little more money in the piggybank, The Organic Pharmacy’s Double Rose Ultra, 43.95 (theorganicpharmacy.com), contains extracts of marigold and rose to soothe inflammation.
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However, if things get really bad, consultant a dermatologist. Dr Susan Mayou advises buying some 1 per cent hydrocortisone cream over the counter — try the ointment from the newly launched Boots Pharmaceuticals Derma Care range, 3.39. This will give quick relief to really damaged skin, but should be used sparingly and never for more than a week. If symptoms continue, consult your GP.
Finally, it’s not just your face that needs protecting. Start looking after the skin on your body from the moment you shower in the morning by switching your regular shower gel for a shower oil to keep skin well moisturised. See our picks below for the best face and body oils.
Dry nails can often split. To help prevent this, wear gloves and use a hand cream frequently. Nubar’s Cucumber Cuticle Oil, 6.55 (beautyshed.co.uk), and Bioplex Cuticle Cream, 11.95, will provide an added vitamin and antioxidant boost to protect the cuticles.
Lastly, prevent hair from becoming dry with a leave-in conditioner such as Charles Worthington’s Hair Healer, 5.49 (charlesworthington.com), or a weekly mask, such as Bumble & Bumble’s Quenching Masque, 27 (spacenk.co.uk).
Winter’s iron grip might be tightening its hold, but with some TLC your body can still feel and look as if it has that summer glow.