What comes after the season of all things merry and bright? When it comes to our skin, tis the season of flaky, dry, and dull. It’s a bit less festive.
To help us maintain that holiday party glow as we transition back into the reality of morning meetings, we enlisted our skincare expert, Seanna Cohen.
Ok, So Why is My Winter Skin a Mess?
If it seems like your usually plump, dewy skin has become kind of emo with the shorter days and colder weather, there’s a good explanation for its inconsistent behavior.
“Because of the cold, windy weather and constant use of central heating in the winter, the skin’s ability to protect itself from water evaporation deteriorates,” Cohen, creator of the Clean Beauty School, explains. “In other words, the skin’s barrier function becomes compromised.”
Three Steps to Stunning Skin
Although we might be inclined to calm dry winter skin with a thick moisturizer, that may not be sufficient. Instead, the “best two ways to combat try and irritated skin during the winter time are to add hydration and add a protective barrier” says Cohen. She suggests boosting moisture levels with a three-step routine:
“First, apply a hydrating water-soluble serum that contains humectant ingredients (which attract water from the environment and provide hydration), like hyaluronic acid or cassia angustifolia seed polysaccharide, to draw moisture into the skin,” she explains.
“Serums are formulated to contain a high concentration of ingredients will quickly help replenish moisture that’s been lost. (It’s like taking a supplement or multi-vitamin!). Try Graydon’s Fullmoon Serum, or Consonant’s HydrExtreme Serum.”
“Second, apply your moisturizer which will add additional moisture as well as act as an emollient to soothe and soften rough, dry, flaky skin,” Cohen continues.
“Lastly, apply a waterless face balm made of plant based oils and beeswax like Province Apothecary’s Protecting + Restoring Face Balm to assist the skin’s compromised barrier function. A rich and nourishing balm will not actually add any more hydration to the skin, but will lock in existing moisture and prevent any more from evaporating (this is what we like to call trans epidermal water loss – TEWL – in the skincare world).”
Settle a Debate: Oil or Lotion for the Rest of Our Skin?
When the skin our face demands attention, it’s easy to neglect the rest of our body. But winter can ravage the skin on our legs, arms, and everywhere else too. So what’s the best way to keep our whole body hydrated?
According to Cohen, body oil and body lotion “both work well to keep the skin moisturized.” However, there’s a time and a place for each.
“Just like a face oil, if your skin is super dry a body oil won’t actually impart any hydration,” Cohen tells us. “It will only help lock in existing moisture.”
To maximize the effects of an oil, application timing is key: “Body oil should be applied on damp skin so that it can keep water in. If you apply them on dry skin, oils will just sit on the surface and feel pretty ineffective.”
If your skin is really rough and dry, Cohen recommends using a natural body lotion “since lotions contain both emollient ingredients (which help soften and soothe skin, making it feel more comfortable), humectant ingredients, and occlusive ingredients (like oils and butters that lock in moisture).”
As with body oil, Cohen advises applying lotion on damp, post-showered skin. However, she notes, lotions are better at penetrating the skin, “because they are partly water-based, and can deliver ingredients that improve the ability of skin to maintain moisture.”
Lead image Chris Slupski via Unsplash