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Why Does My Skin Feel So Dry During Winter Months?

Updated: Mar 29, 2022

Winter months can be tough for some of us. If you’re like me, you prefer summer months. For me, it’s not only the cold temperatures that get to me, but also how dry my skin feels during winter. On top of being cold, I used to struggle with tight, itchy, sensitive skin in the colder months. Since then, I have at least learned WHY my skin used to become so dry and also HOW to treat it! And, guess what? Now I can share the information with you!

What makes winter air different from summer air?

1. The air is colder (obviously)

2. The humidity is lower

How do the above factors affect the health of our skin?

According to published research, cold air causes tightening of the pores. You might be thinking: “Smaller pores? Yes, please!” But no – in this case, smaller pores are not a good thing. Tightening of the pores in combination with cold air leads to a reduction in sebum (oil) secretion. This may sound good to you if your skin always feels oily, but during winter months our skin needs the oil, because it acts as part of the skin’s protective barrier. The skin barrier consists of water and lipids and helps to trap moisture in the skin and protect against bacteria. Without its protective barrier, the skin will be more vulnerable and prone to dehydration and sensitivity, and even breakouts.

Low humidity can also cause problems in the skin, especially when combined with cold weather. It is definitely not a myth that people living near the coast have more hydrated skin! Your skin needs moisture, and if the air has a lot of it, your skin draws it up. However, if the moisture levels in the air are low, your skin is at a greater risk of becoming dehydrated. Our skin depends on the water in the atmosphere to keep it healthy and hydrated.

And that’s not the end. You and I also have a role to play. We simply love taking hot baths or showers during winter. We also love our warm fireplaces, heaters, electric blankets etc. Well, let me tell you – your skin doesn’t! Hot showers/baths and heated rooms cause even more moisture loss in the skin, and the heat may even aggravate inflammation if the skin is already compromised.

So, now what? It’s not like we can tell winter to go away, and who wants to sit freezing in a cold room all day? Despite all the bad news, I have good news! There is definitely a way to keep your skin healthy and hydrated in hot and cold temperatures.

Here are my basic skincare tips:

1. Use a hydrating cleanser

Avoid a “soapy” cleanser (especially those containing sodium lauryl sulfate) – these will just strip the skin barrier and lead to dryness. Instead, use a soap-free, pH balanced cleanser that will not compromise the skin barrier and that contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents.

2. Exfoliate (usually 2 to 3 times per week)

To maintain a healthy skin, we need to remove dry skin and dead skin cells and keep the skin’s desquamation (shedding) process going. I do not recommend using scrubs containing beads, as this can do more harm than good. An enzymatic exfoliator is the way to go. It does everything that a scrub would have done, minus the trauma to the skin and the inflammation.

3. Use a serum that contains hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid is molecule that occurs naturally within the skin, and has the ability to draw up to 1000 times its own weight in water to the skin. Applying this serum will ensure that your skin stays well hydrated and plump (and can stimulate your skin’s own hyaluronic acid production if you use Lamelle’s HA+ Serum!).

4. Moisturize!

I cannot stress this enough. Your skin needs extra moisture during winter, and the one you use in the summer months may not always be enough (especially if you are prone to dry skin already). Invest in a moisturiser that will not just add hydration, but will also help seal the moisture in. Lipid- or oil-based moisturisers are key to protecting the skin from harsh weather conditions.

5. Apply sunscreen… always

Yep, you read it. Sunscreen is just as important during winter months as during summer months. Even though the sun’s rays feel weaker, don’t be fooled thinking that they cannot cause damage. Wear your sunscreen – in thirty years from now, you will thank yourself (and your nagging skincare therapist).

Below is a list of my favourite Lamelle winter products:

- Lamelle Serra Cleansing Gel

- Lamelle Nourish Daily Cleanse

- Lamelle Dermaheal Foaming Cleanser

- Lamelle HA+ Serum

- Lamelle Serra Restore Cream

- Lamelle Serra Soothing Cream

- Lamelle NSB Cream

- Lamelle Restorative Balm

- Lamelle Lipid-Recovery Mask

Written by Maryke le Roux (Dermal Aesthetician)

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