Welcome to winter!
Cold, crisp winter mornings can make me feel energised, but there are downsides. That low humidity, and cold wind means my skin is always drier. And as I’m getting older, I’ve found it even gets flaky and sensitive. Horror!
Normally I’m reaching for the moisturiser a few times a day, but often I find plain moisturiser is just not up to the task (see article on moisturisers). But what else is there? This is exactly what I wanted to find out many years ago when dry skin became a problem for me, and more of my patients were talking to me about the same problem they were having too!
So grab a cup of tea and settle down to get the bottom line:
- Get the RIGHT moisturiser. Think they’re all the same? Don’t worry I did too. Turns out that you need specific ingredients in your moisturiser when winter is drying out your skin: First stop is a humectant that will actually draw moisture to the dry skin. Look for Sodium PCA, hyaluronic acid, glycerin or the dermatologists’ favourite, urea to name Just a few. Step 2 is an emollient that will leave the skin feeling soft and reduce the rate of moisture loss. There are too many to list but I love Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, jojoba and Dimethicone.
- If you do have scaly, rough, hard skin patches, you’ll want to exfoliate to smooth the skin and encourage new skin growth. But if winter has made your skin more sensitive, make sure you’re using a gentle, well-tolerated exfoliator. Like most doctors, I recommend you only exfoliate with hydroxy acids which are actually very gentle. Harsh abrasives, even “natural” scrubs containing nut husks are irritating and pro-inflammatory and so can be pro-aging.
- Bathe right. No soap and shorter showers that aren’t scalding hot. Hot water pulls moisture from your skin. Pat dry, don’t rub to avoid inflaming the skin.
So when looking for a product to combat your winter dry skin, this is what I’d look for:
- Salicylic Acid (often called a Beta Hydroxy acid). Not only will it exfoliate (it is a gentle hydroxy acid exfoliator) and remove dry skin, but it also has anti-inflammatory properties and plus a light anaesthetic effect. Awesome for irritated, dry skin¹.
- Urea, which dermatologists love. Because apart from being a highly effective humectant adding moisture to the skin, urea also helps gently exfoliate roughened skin². It’s a key ingredient in many eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis products, but great on garden variety dry skin, too.
- Glycerin³ and sodium PCA, which are awesome humectants that protect the skin from both dryness and irritation.
- Dimethicone⁴, Cetearyl Alcohol, and Glyceryl Stearate, all excellent emollients which soften the skin and reduce skin moisture loss
If you can’t find all this in one product, you haven’t looked hard enough. Hint hint! Check out our Beta Hydrate which we formulated to tick every box of my dream formula!
Stay warm and dry but not too dry!!
¹ T Arif, Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, 2015
² A Sethi, et. al, Indian Journal of Dermatology, 2016
³ J Bettinger, et. al, Derematology, Pharmacology and Treatment, 1998
⁴ R Short, et. al, Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, 2006