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Winter Skin Preparation: What you need to know

Written by Pia Kynoch | Verve Beauty Therapy on April 27th, 2016.      0 comments

Pia discusses how to prepare for the cooler temps and low humidity, and at the same time create an enhanced skin routine that will leave you with a flawless face and body year-round.

Why do the colder months have such a negative effect on our skin, especially on sensitive faces?

Autumn and winter usually means more time inside in low humidity environments, the perfect recipe for transepidermal water loss (TEWL) - a very common cause of parched, stressed skin. Water is literally pulled out of your skin by the dry environmental conditions and at the same time most people drink even LESS water than they do in summer, meaning your water balance is completely out of whack.

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When your skin barrier has the right amount of lipids and Natural Moisturising Factors (NMFs) it will retain water effectively. Maintaining a great water balance by reducing TEWL keeps you looking radiant! If your barrier is impaired it will result in unhappy skin displayed in a myriad of ways - dryness, flakiness, congestion, sensitivity, looking dull and feeling tight, coarse, or just a really uncomfortable feeling.

A thin, weak or damaged skin barrier allows irritants in, or simply irritates more easily - and so building up your lipid barrier is the key to reducing skin sensitivity, inflammation, slow healing and ageing long term.

The major lipids produced by your main skin cells (keratinocytes) are a mixture of almost equal proportions of free fatty acids, cholesterol and ceramides. The correct ratios of these lipids absolutely do need to be present in your moisturiser or TEWL can get out of control! Many, many brands lack this particular ratio combination, or if you are choosing to use only an oil on your skin then you will be getting plenty of fatty acids or triglycerides and no ceramides and cholesterols. Long term this is just no good for cell composition, structure, function… and ageing! You want the moisturiser that you are applying every day to provide the perfect amounts of the fundamental skin lipids needed for your skin type to ensure your skin is strengthened and fortified at any time of year.

You may also find you need to moisturise your body more often in winter, particularly the arms and legs which have fewer oil glands. These areas of the body can feel especially dry in winter, so nourish this skin every time you dry off after your shower!

 
Another top tip is to replace caffeine based drinks (coffee, black tea, green tea, coke) with a delicious herbal tea.  Some great alternatives to coffee, which is known to negate up to 2 cups of water for every cup, and also providing a burst of powerful anti-oxidants are Dandelion, Green Tea, Ginger, Echinacea, Licorice and Peppermint. Brew up a big batch and substitute into your water bottle with a slice of lemon for an extra tasty hydration upgrade in your day!
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WHAT ARE THE MAJOR STEPS TO PREPARING YOUR SKIN FOR THE COLDER MONTHS?
 
  1. Cleanse – using the correct cleanser for your skin type is sooooo important! Most of our clients choose a creamy Cleansing Milk to really reinforce barrier function. A high quality one containing skin synergistic ingredients (with no added nasties!) can even be used without water and just tissued off, leaving a super dry skin nourished and comfortable.
    Micro-fibre cloths or Konjac cleansing sponges are a safe and gentle pre-cleanse option, plus provide super gentle exfoliating. Keep in mind that overly aggressive cleansing, using soaps or cleansing wipes (please, NO!), and washing too often are really detrimental to your skin barrier.
  2. Keep your room heaters and hot water showers to a minimum! Electric heaters and aircon will suck the humidity from your surrounding environment. A little trick that you can use to counter this effect is to place a bowl of water in your room – although keep in mind that the humidity will still be lower than ideal. Continue to keep your liquid intake high (and no, that doesn’t mean all wine!). Hot showers may feel soothing yet they will deplete your natural skin lipids super quickly, as well as stressing out your surface blood network… possibly encouraging a multitude of burst capillaries that can leave you looking ruddy all year long. It is worth mentioning that daily cold showers are an ancient technique to promote overall radiant health – let us know if you are a convert! 
  3. Exfoliate, although always with care – your skin is more sensitive than you realise. Avoid synthetic microbeads, overactive acids and abrasive particles.  We recommend using a 100% natural Jojoba bead cream to gently exfoliate dull, dry, flaky, congested or mature skin. It will reveal a smoother, softer and more glowing complexion in just 10minutes. Do this 2-4 times a week for best results, and try applying before showering so that the extra warmth (not too hot mind you!) enhances the great effect of the jojoba! Enzymes are also a go-to gentle exfoliant suitable for most skin types,
  4. Repair your cells with specific serum actives designed to support, enhance and dramatically boost your skin function and any specific skin concerns you may have. Look for serums with a special all-natural encapsulated delivery system that delivers pure plant extracts and vitamins. We recommend a Phosphatidylcholine (PC) carrier liposome ‘bubble taxi’ that encloses the actives – think of a taxi with passengers (the active ingredients) making its way to the lower layers of your skin. As the taxi passes through theses layers begins to slowly disintegrate, allowing the active ingredients to pass into the surrounding cellular structures where they can create the most beneficial changes. The taxi itself is completely metabolised, supplying the skin with two essential lipid building blocks (linoleic acid and choline) needed for barrier repair, stability and skin integrity. The actives create the cellular changes needed to really get your skin ‘moving & shaking’ – this is where you can really get down to the nitty gritty of skin issues.
  5. Hydrated skin equals happy skin! And, in a nutshell, what you want is a product that has a specific composition allowing better penetration of your previously applied active ingredients, that protects and replenishes the acid mantle, and will hydrate and restore the skins barrier. You want a moisturiser with excellent ratios of ceramides, cholesterols and fatty acids (these 3 are VITAL for normal skin functioning! A great moisturiser also helps to prevent inflammatory skin reactions, reduces epidermal essential fatty acid deficiencies and aids in creating healthy corneocyte compaction. How about that?!

Another big winter skin issue is chapped lips or skin. What are some ways to treat this?

Chapped lips are one of the most common complaints we receive during the winter months. Some lip balms can make a bad situation worse by actually exacerbating dryness. Potential irritants to watch for include fragrance, phenol, mineral oils, petrolatum, silicones and menthol. We love a balm that gives rich, nourishing and healing protection for the lips with a combination of shea butter, carnauba wax, bees wax and propolis. We encourage exfoliating your lips at the same time you look after your face and neck with your gentle jojoba based exfoliation cream. Also avoid toothpastes (such as Colgate and Macleans) that contain Triclosans and SLS and an excessive hit of fluoride. These ‘bad guys’ can contribute to peri-oral dermatitis outbreaks. And it may be hard although please steer away from licking your lips, as low humidity and a slight water film on your lip surface will leach even more from that delicate skin!

AND THE FINAL WORD…
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Sun isn’t quite the mortal enemy it’s sometimes made out to be (vitamin D, please!), but you certainly do need to make a DAILY effort to protect yourself against its cell damaging effects. It’s not the first time you’ve heard this, nor will it be the last, but sunscreen anytime of the year is a must. We recommend all natural mineral SPFs for long wearing, skin protective and extra radiance boosting properties!
 
Topics: Skin Care
 

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