Have you noticed your skin seems extra itchy at the moment? Particularly the legs?
Then read on…..
It’s that time of year again. Winter.
Cold winds, those reverse cycle air conditioners blasting out the heat, you’re inside, then outside, hot and cold, hot and cold.
It’s scenarios like this which plays havoc with your skin.
As a beauty therapist I see it a lot.
Sometimes you need to change up your skin care routine to match the elements.
Many people complain of itchy, dry skin over the cooler months, and skin hydration becomes even more important when facing these harsher weather conditions.
So let’s take a closer look at the skin – the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the epidermis). It is what makes our skin impermeable, and protects the deeper skin tissue and the body from bacterial invasion and other environmental aggressors.
The stratum corneum is made up of flattened, dead skin cells.
For the stratum corneum to properly protect the body, it must be elastic and flexible, which is only possible when the skin is properly hydrated.
Normal, healthy skin is 20–35% water. Each day, it loses around 500ml of water through transepidermal water loss (TEWL). But, when humidity drops, like it does in winter, there’s a dramatic increase in water loss as the dry air pulls moisture from the skin. When the skin’s water content drops below 10%, it begins drying and brings discomfort in the form of redness, itchiness and flakiness. With less water in the skin, lipid levels fall, setting in motion a vicious cycle that can be hard to resolve.
Add to the mix ongoing or prolonged exposure to irritants, such as certain soaps and even water (especially hot), and you have a far worse situation. This exposure causes the skin’s acid mantle (our skins barrier) to disintegrate, which further increases the rate of water loss in the skin and decreases lipid levels. The result is even drier skin that may crack and even become infected.
With less water and fewer lipids to lubricate and protect, the skin no longer sheds its dead cells properly, resulting in excessive build up of dead skin cells on the surface, giving it an ashy, rough looking appearance. It also results in an overall breakdown of skin health and the skin can no longer heal itself properly. In order to try and fix that discomfort caused by these conditions, there are a variety of options to get your skin back to its optimal health.
MOISTURISERS – the first objective is to minimise any discomfort.
Lotions and moisturisers can help repair the skins barrier and bring temporary relief.
Dry winter skin is best treated with a moisturizer that is rich in humectants.
Humectants attract water from the skin and store it in the stratum corneum (top layer of skin) they tend to be heavier and are often marketed as night moisturizers.
Regardless of the label, dry skin will benefit from their use throughout the day.
It is essential to reapply moisturizer every few hours when fighting dry skin. Another option is to add in an extra toner full of humectants throughout the day.
Some humectants to look out for are:
Hydrolized Wheat / Rice Proteins
For the face: Aromaskin CALM moisturiser is great for sensitive, barrier impaired skin, or choose my HYDRATE moisturiser for normal / dry skin.
And let’s not forget the lips! Lips can become sore and chapped over winter, use of an exfoliant such as my sugar based Lip Scrubs will have those lips at their plump and kissable best in no time!
For the body: I am currently formulating a new range so keep your eyes out for that! But otherwise if you’re experiencing quite dry and itchy skin my SKIN REPAIR BALM infused with organic botanicals is a must!
EXFOLIATION- although exfoliation is something that should be done all year round’ anyway, it’s especially important for those with dry skin. Remembering that the low water content and reduced lipid levels associated with dry skin interrupt the normal desquamation (shedding of dead skin cells) process.
For the face: regular use (2 or 3 times per week) of an exfoliant will encourage the proper shedding of dead skin cells. Not only will this result in skin that looks better, but it will also improve the skin’s overall health.
My REVEAL exfoliant powder contains Rice Powder, Jojoba Beads and the enzymatic power of Papaya help to dissolve and buff away dead skin cells with Rice and Licorice Root help brighten the skin. The addition of Zeolite cleans, while Coconut Milk Powder and Colloidal Oats soften and soothe. It also contains an antioxidant boost of Maqui and Acai Berries.
For the body: regular body brushing with a body brush (such as a Bode Care Brush) or use of a scrub 2-3 times per week such as one of my CACAO & COFFEE scrubs containing high quality salts and minerals is highly recommended.
SERUMS & MASQUES – these are also additional options that can help retain hydrate and lock in moisture.
I highly recommend my Hyaluronic Acid Serum for use under your moisturiser morning and night. As I touched on earlier, it is a powerful humectant that will assist with ultra hydration of your skin.
My BOTANICAL MASKS are full of antioxidants and organic botanicals designed to target different skin types and conditions and will help to smooth and soften the skin.
And then there are your stock standard traditional remedies such as:
- Take fewer and/or shorter showers and baths, and reduce water temperatures. This is an essential step for those with dry skin, as hot water can strip the skin of its natural oils and can make problems like eczema and dry skin worse but should be followed by those with healthy skin, as well.
- Avoid the use of harsh soaps and detergents, as well as the frequent use of hand sanitizers. These ingredients destroy the skin’s acid mantle (that protective barrier), thus increases the rate of your skins water loss. Instead, alcohol-free hand sanitizer and soaps full of glycerin such as hot and cold process soaps are recommended.
- Use a cool-mist humidifier in the home and office to maintain proper humidity levels. This will help skin maintain hydration by slowing the rate of your skins water loss.
I hope this helps on your road to healthy winter skin without the itch, but if these things are not enough to get your skin looking your best, be sure to visit your local beauty therapist / ethestician to get you on the road to recovery.
Love the skin you’re in! – Neen xx