Winter Skin Solutions (And Why Dry Skin Makes Acne Worse)
Does this sound familiar?
Winter comes along and as the temperature gets colder, your skin gets drier.
Then you over-exfoliate or use a harsh peel, which only leaves your skin even more dehydrated and flaky, followed by more breakouts.
Why does this happen? Because dehydrated skin = acne.
Oftentimes, we only associate oily skin with breakouts. But dry skin also goes hand in hand with acne because the skin is still producing oil even if it’s dehydrated.
When your skin is not in homeostasis, aka out of balance, the pH level will be off. This means your acid mantle is disrupted and bacteria can easily wreak havoc on your skin. The acid mantle is a layer of sebum and sweat, which in layman’s terms are oil and water.
In a fight to achieve that homeostasis, dehydrated skin can lead to even more oil production to compensate for the missing water. This may cause the skin to feel both oily and dry at the same time with dry patches, pimples and irritation.
Even though we’re working internally to fix what’s causing the breakouts, we have her there to lend a hand in the symptom management department. And when it comes to winter skin — she’s full of tips to keep your skin hydrated and glowing during the chilly months.
What to Do for Dry Skin in the Winter
Exfoliate and Rehydrate
One of the best practices for combatting dry skin is to exfoliate and then rehydrate, said Fletcher, who is also an award-winning holistic skin therapist.
It’s hard for dead skin to shed off of dry skin, and if you apply a ton of cream, it’ll be pointless because the cream will temporarily plump up the dead skin and will not penetrate.
Exfoliating can assist by removing flaky skin and dead skin cells to help unclog your pores. Once your pores are open, then you can apply moisturizer to rehydrate your skin.
The consistency of your moisturizer will depend on when it’s used and how dry your skin is. If you have a lighter moisturizer, use it in the morning after a shower because it will absorb into the skin quickly. A thicker moisturizer, on the other hand, should be used at night because it will deeply penetrate while you sleep overnight.
Usually we only think of applying sunscreen in the summer.
But wearing a mineral-based sunscreen during the winter is also crucial for hydrated skin.
This provides a protective barrier for the skin preventing water loss and guarding it from harsh elements.
Fletcher recommends a natural, mineral-based sunscreen containing zinc: “It may make your skin look chalky, but it is worth it. A natural sunscreen won’t include ingredients that could possibly dry out your skin more, and zinc is insanely soothing so it will help with redness,” she said.
Another way to maintain hydrated skin is to use a 100 percent silk pillowcase.
Considering your skin may be more sensitive in the winter, silk pillowcases are more gentle on the skin and will not steal moisture from it. Also, bacteria and mites cannot live on 100 percent silk.
But just remember to keep your pillowcase clean by washing it at least once a week.
Use Plant-Based Serums
Most of all, Fletcher said the best thing you can do during the winter is to use a plant-based hydrating serum with vegan hyaluronic acid found in the marshmallow plant. Serums penetrate deeper into the skin and can add much-needed fluid within your skin cells. Try Eminence Organic’s Strawberry Rhubarb Hyaluronic Serum.
“You want to use plant-based because our bodies absorb and process plant-based material much better than synthetic or animal-based,” she said.
What Not to Do
You should definitely avoid over-exfoliating during the winter (and at all times) Fletcher said.
“I highly recommend switching to a gentle enzymatic-type exfoliation for the skin during the cold winter months,” she said. “I’d rather see you use something gentle like this more often than using a harsh glycolic peel once a week.”
She recommends the Yam & Pumpkin Enzyme Peel from Eminence Organics.
Extremely Hot Water
I know how great a hot shower on a cold, winter day feels.
I hate to break it to you, though, but hot water can also dry out the skin. And the longer you’re in the shower, the more that this process is prolonged. So taking shorter, lukewarm showers is the best option for hydrating the skin.
Eating or Drinking Dehydrating Food or Beverages
On top of good skin-care practices during the winter, eating and drinking hydrating food and beverages are essential to prevent dry skin and acne.
Foods that are salty, sugary or refined, as well as beverages like coffee and alcohol, can dehydrate your body causing red, irritated and dry skin.
Instead of coffee, try alternatives like caffeine-free herbal teas, matcha tea, dandelion root or yerba mate. To replace alcohol, enjoy this sparkling pineapple ginger mocktail. And of course, remember water is your best friend when it comes to hydrated, clear skin.
Foods to include for glowing skin are fruits and vegetables like avocados, cucumber and leafy greens.