It’s been a cold winter this year, and as we stay bundled up and warm, it’s important to keep active, eat healthy and stay hydrated (drink lots of water bbs). Being the largest organ of our body, our skin tends to feel the bite of winter and can turn dry, scratchy and irritable. And while we might have our daily skincare regimen down to a pat, sometimes the same products and skin hygiene habits we follow through the summer months don't yield the desired results. How then, should we tweak our skincare regimen? Cosmo India looked to the experts to answer our queries.
“As good as they feel, it’s important to avoid long, hot water showers in the winter,” says Dr Jaishree Sharad. “Though these can sound very appealing on a cold winter day, over-exposure to hot water can dry out your skin. The intense heat actually breaks down the lipid barriers, leading to a loss of moisture. After you bathe, moisturise all over while your skin is slightly moist to trap the moisture within. Use a thicker moisturising cream (one with heavier lipids such as cocoa and shea butter) for your hands, elbows and feet. Pay special attention to the exposed parts, as well as the hands that you constantly sanitise.”
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“The skin behaves very differently in the summer and winter,” explains Dr Rashmi Shetty. “The change in food and bathing habits tend to have an effect on your skin. You might tend to gravitate towards comfort food such as fried foods, but they can lead to breakouts and imbalance the skin tone. Even the dust and the pollen in the air will affect your skin seasonally. You definitely need to change your face wash to suit a drier skin,” she adds.“You also need to opt for a thicker face moisturiser as compared to a summer product, which will tend to be milkier and serum-like. Face and body oils, along with certain bath oils, can be a good addition during the winter.”
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"Water or gel-based moisturisers don’t work in the winter,” agrees Dr Jaishree.“ It's important to know that using a sunscreen isn’t just for the summertime”, she says."The winter sun can still damage your skin. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to your face and the sun-exposed parts of your skin. Re-apply it every 2 hours if you stay outdoors for extended periods of time.”
“Avoid soaps that will dry the skin,” she adds. “Opt for a gentle cream cleanser that will leave the skin soft and supple. Avoid toners and astringents as they are alcohol-based and will further strip the skin of moisture. Stop using retinol, or use it once a week, and avoid AHAs and BHAs or use them twice a week, at max. When it comes to face masks, avoid clay masks and powder masks. Use gel or cream-based sheet masks instead.”
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“Invest in a good exfoliator. In the winter, your skin tends to get dry, leading to the accumulation of dead skin which in turn can block or prevent your moisturiser from penetrating the skin and doing its job”, says Dr Rashmi. "Be careful not to use a harsh scrub, as that makes the skin sensitive. Some gentle exfoliation during your bath also helps.”
Our lips and feet tend to bear the brunt of the cold and develop cracks. “Apply a lip balm or even ghee to your lips, and do not lick your lips as this will further dry them”, explains Dr Jaishree.“Stay away from using room heaters for long hours as they rip the moisture away from your skin. If you are developing cracks, tend to your feel daily instead of a sporadic pedicure. Develop a nighttime ritual and soak your feet in warm water with a few drops of almond or coconut oil. Exfoliate the dead skin with a pumice stone, apply a thick moisturising cream and wear a pair of cotton socks (if possible, keep these on all the time).”
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We are what we eat, so taking care of our diet can make our skin healthy and glowing from within.” Drink enough water (put an alarm if needed)”’ says Dr Jaishree. “Include flax seeds, almonds, walnuts and fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel to your diet. These are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and will help keep the skin hydrated.”
“The right supplements can go a long way in maintaining a healthy glow,” adds Dr Rashmi. “Vitamin C and Ra Hydrate (which contains collagen, sodium hyaluronate and lutein) help heal your skin and hold water. Make sure the vitamin C that you consume does not contain sodium bicarbonate and sugar. You can also take primrose oil, flaxseed oil and vitamin E oil as oral supplements.”
"If you are opting for any treatments, look for those that are more hydrating and don’t rip the top layer of your skin and irritate it”, she concludes.
So there you have it, a complete list of expert-approved dos and don’t for winter skincare. Make these changes and get that coveted winter glow and keep your skin happy this cold weather season.