The challenges of winter
Winter can be hard on skin, with lower humidity and cool winds there is less moisture in the air and artificially heated environments are often overly warm and drying. In these conditions the skin loses moisture fast.
Dry, flaky itchy skin is a common winter complaint and as the skin’s natural barrier function becomes challenged, it can cause the aggravation of conditions such as eczema and dermatitis.
Read what Naturopath and Founder of NueBar, Katie Hennah advises.
Supporting the skin
Choosing gentle products to wash with reduces the stripping of natural oils from the skin. Avoiding sulfate and soap-based products can make a big difference in reducing skin dryness and when the pH of your wash products is similar to that of your skin and scalp it means that the skin’s microbiome is less disturbed and can more easily do its job of maintaining skin health.
When skin is stressed by dryness, irritants like artificial fragrance are more likely to aggravate skin conditions. Choosing products that are fragrance free or scented only with pure essential oils rather than fragrant oils is a good way to reduce irritation.
Additives that help retain moisture
In winter sometimes you need an extra moisturising boost.
Our Dry/Mature Face wash bar contains an additional ingredient to naturally retain more moisture in the skin. Saccaharide isomerate is a plant derived carbohydrate complex that naturally occurs in the skin and helps to bind water to skin cells.
It has been shown to visibly reduce dryness and flaky skin. It is also hard to wash off, making it effective even in rinse off products like a Face wash bar, and has been proven to increase hydration for up to 24 hours after use.
Avoid overly hot showers and baths
It’s very tempting in the cold of winter to really amp up the temperature when bathing. The trouble with this is that the excessive heat really opens up the skin cells causing the skin to lose more of its natural moisture. The same is true of the hair with heat opening up the cuticle making it more prone to dryness.
If you are taking a bath, rub some coconut oil into your skin before bathing to reduce the drying effect of the water, don’t stay in too long, keep the temperature moderate and moisturise well afterwards.
In the shower try and keep the water just a bit over lukewarm or if you have a warmer shower, give yourself a good blast of cold water at the end. This is not only great for closing up the hair cuticle and skin barrier but also for stimulating circulation, cranking the immune system up, getting the feel-good hormones flowing and making you feel really alive! It sounds nuts but I highly recommend it, and if you are not convinced try Googling “Wim Hoff”, the guy they call the “Ice Man” to see just what cold water can do for you!
Moisturise, Moisturise, Moisturise
In winter it is a good idea to moisturise more frequently and to swap to a heavier, oil rather than water-based, moisturiser on your body. Water based moisturisers can dissipate quickly in the dry winter air and don’t prevent moisture loss.
The NueBar Moisturising bar is rich in butters and oils making it great in winter as it creates a layer that really locks in the body’s own natural hydration reducing moisture loss and thus improving skin health. Dry skin and skin that is prone to skin conditions that are aggravated by dryness such as dermatitis and eczema will love the extra richness that it provides.
On the face, winter is a good time to layer. Start with a gentle, moisture-retaining wash product, our Dry/Mature or Fragrance-Free Face wash would be ideal. Then apply a light facial oil or serum before your normal moisturiser. And don’t forget winter sun can still pack a UV punch, check the UV index for the day and take suitable precautions.
If you are enjoying winter snow sports sunscreen is an absolute must as the high altitude, wind, and snow reflection combine to cause skin damage in a much shorter time.
Treat the skin from the inside
Of course, our body needs hydrating from the inside too.
Make sure you keep the water intake up (easy to forget in winter when you are not sweating as much) and the alcohol intake down. Alcohol is a diuretic and reduces your B vitamin levels, which are important for smooth, supple skin. Green tea is a great choice for a winter beverage, all those extra antioxidants give the skin a boost.
To optimize skin health your diet should predominantly consists of whole foods. Especially foods that are rich in essential fatty acids, B vitamins, Vitamin E, C, carotenoids, zinc and selenium. Generous and regular serves of healthy oil rich foods like fresh nuts (walnuts, almonds, brazils, and macadamias are great) seeds (flax, pumpkin, sunflower and chia), avocado and extra virgin olive oil are all a great boost for winter skin and between them provide vitamin E, zinc and selenium as well as essential fatty acids.
Omega 3 fats are especially important for skin that is dry or inflamed. The traditional source of these is seafood, especially small deep sea oily fish, but if you are not a fish eater then a more direct, cleaner and sustainable way of accessing these oils is by taking an Omega 3, algae supplement. Algae, after all, is where fish get all their Omega 3 from in the first place!
A healthy supply of B vitamins is also important for healthy supple skin, and these can be found in wholegrains (barley, oats and brown rice are my favourites), legumes, nutritional yeast and spinach. Carotenoids found in orange and dark green vegetables are great for their antioxidant properties, helping the skin to resist the many challenges it faces. Carotenoids are also optimally absorbed when cooked in combination with some of those good fats mentioned above.
Enjoy the winter with healthy skin
With the right regime and care, your skin can look just as soft, healthy and glowing in winter as at any other time of year, so that you can get out there and enjoy all that the cooler months have to offer.