By The Beauty Hub  |  November 16th, 2015  |  Beauty Articles,Editors Pick,News

The harsh summer season is finally over in the UAE and our favourite time of the year is just around the corner. While we get our boots, jackets and woollens out, it is absolutely important to prep your skin for the winter months ahead!

Winters bring along uncomfortable dryness to the skin, especially the face, hands, and feet. For some people, the problem is worse than just a general tight, dry feeling. With the cold weather and falling temperatures, the skin can become very dry and might start flaking, cracking and even sometimes the skin can become inflamed. Dry skin is usually a long term recurring issue, especially in winter, and it is important to avoid it.

What exactly happens to the skin in cold weather? When the superficial skin layers (known as the stratum corneum) lose their moisture and water content, the cells shrink. When the volume of the cells decreases significantly, it can then adversely affect and impact the skin’s elasticity, thereby creating fissures. Fissures cause rupture of capillaries, causing clinical bleeding. The disruption of skin integrity will thereby result in inflammation, with a risk of infection. The absorption of allergens and irritants also rises, since the skin is damaged. This thereby increases its susceptibility to allergic and irritant eczema. This eczema may cause persistent complications, and it only gets harder in winters, where the natural oils are leeched from the skin.

Here are some useful skincare tips to ensure that your skin remains hydrated and healthy.

Facial Care

  • Moisturise more! The use of a moisturiser that works just fine in spring and summer may not be adequate. An “ointment” moisturiser that’s oil-based is preferred, rather than water-based. The oil will create a protective layer on the skin that retains more moisture than a cream or lotion. Lotions containing “humectants” are advisable because they include glycerine and hydroxyl acids which attract moisture to the skin. Applying a soothing lotion right after the bath or shower will help the skin’s protective layer stay intact.
  • Yes, sunscreens in winter! Sunscreen isn’t just for summertime. Winter sun can still damage the skin. Apply a generous amount of sunscreen to your face and neck, about 20-30 minutes before going outside. Re-apply frequently if you’re out for a long time. Combination sunscreens which contain both sunscreens and moisturisers are convenient.
  • Drop the harsh products! As weather conditions change, so, too, should the skin care routine. If the facial skin is even mildly dry, avoid harsh scrubs and alcohol-based toners, these will remove vital oils from the skin. Instead, use cleansing milk or mild foaming cleansers. They will gently cleanse without stripping natural skin moisture. Masks that are “deeply hydrating,” rather than clay-based (which draw moisture out) are also helpful.

Hand Care

The skin on our hands is thinner than most parts of the body and has fewer oil glands. It’s harder to keep your hands moist, especially in cold, dry weather. This can lead to itchiness and cracking. Keep your hands warm at all times to avoid excessive dryness, and keep a hand moisturiser in your bag wherever you go.

Feet Care

Simple foot lotions are lovely in the hot summer months, but during the winter, the feet need stronger stuff. Lotions that contain petroleum jelly or glycerine would be thicker and more effective. Also use exfoliants (physical ones like coarse loofahs and pumice stone) to get the dead skin off periodically; this will help moisturisers sink in faster and deeper.

Body Care

Soaking in a hot bath feels great after frolicking out in the cold. But the intense heat of a hot shower or bath actually breaks down the lipid barriers in the skin, which can lead to loss of moisture. Luke warm water is better than hot or cold water. Using a mild bath product or one that is pH balanced helps to maintain skin’s oil balance. Showers may be better than baths as they minimize the contact duration of water with skin.

Professional Care

Since dry skin makes the skin more sensitive, some care has to be practised in selection of suitable products. If the dryness or itchiness persists in spite of regular emollient application, you should definitely visit a professional dermatologist.

Don’t forget that water is good for our overall health and severely dehydrated skin will definitely benefit from fluids. Citrus fruits, nuts, green leafy vegetables are good sources of nutrients.

Dr Olfa Fahem – Skin Beauty Advisor for Kaya Skin Clinic.