After a long hot summer, it’s almost a relief to feel that chill in the air as winter begins. When the weather changes, you might start to notice some changes in your skin.
You’re not dreaming! A 2018 Danish study published in The British Journal of Dermatology found that “the skin barrier is affected by climatic and seasonal changes.” Winter skin was drier and rougher, and the skin cells actually shrunk, the study found with reduced skin barrier function. (1) This means that not only does eczema get worse in winter, but other skin conditions like rosacea, too.
So what does this mean for you?
1. Avoid Soap
Soap disrupts the “tight junctions” between your cells and allows water loss. It also disrupts the chemistry of the skin increasing the pH (removing what we call the “acid mantle” that protects your skin from unwanted bacteria and other microbes. Go for a soap free or gentle cleanser instead.
Dry skin needs moisture but it also needs improved skin barrier function. Standard moisturisers will help for most skin types but if you have a skin disease like eczema or dermatitis, you might need some extra help. They include:
- The natural fats that exist in healthy skin such as ceramides and cholesterol which actually can penetrate the skin and reduce skin permeability.
- Emollients like sorbolene and glycerine that help soften the skin.
- Natural humectants like glycerol and urea. These seem to help prevent excessive water loss and keep the outer skin layers- the stratum corneum, moisturised and intact.
- Occlusives such as petroleum jelly, lanolin, cocoa butter, mineral oil and jojoba oil help prevent excess reduce water evaporation.
3. Cosmeceuticals for winter skin.
Niacinamide helps prevent Trans epidermal water loss or TEWL which helps retain moisture in the skin. It also helps with improving your skins ability to make ceramides and improves skin cell turnover so you get less rough skin patches. It is also anti inflammatory. (2)
In the right formulation vitamin C enhances the skin barrier function as well as helping with skin turnover. Plus it is anti inflammatory. But formulation is critical here! The skin barrier repels vitamin C. It is only when pH levels of your vitamin C preparation are below 3.5 (that’s very acidic!) PLUS the vitamin C is in the form of ascorbic acid, that it can penetrate the skin. (3)(4)
We all think of SPF and sun protection in summer, but it matters in winter, too. While UVB ( think B for burning) peaks in summer, especially between the hours of 10 am and 3pm, UVA (think A for aging) is there 365 days a year, from sunrise to sunset. You mightn’t burn in winter but if you don’t want age related skin damage, a day cream with broad spectrum sun protection (covering both UVA and UVB rays) is essential every day.
Enjoy the cold weather while it lasts!