Thursday, January 22, 2009

Winter Skincare

Winter season can be extremely stressful for our skin due to winds and cold temperatures outside as well as drying low-humidity resulting from heating inside.

What happens to our skin in winter:

When you are outside, the cold temperatures result in a poor blood circulation in your facial skin. As a result your skin does not get enough nutrients and oxygen and the healthy, regenerative processes in your skin slow down. As a result, skin looses its healthy color and becomes dull or pale. When you are inside, your skin is losing its moisture due to the dry environment created by indoor heating. As a result, it feels tight, dry and can start flaking. When you shift between the cold outside and the warm and dry inside environments the difference is so big and stressful for your skin that your skin naturally cannot balance itself quickly enough, resulting in loss of hydration, irritation, widened capillaries and redness.

To keep your skin healthy during winter you should:
*help it to restore the protective hydro lipid barrier
*protect and balance your skin
*moisturize, moisturize and again moisturize
*provide protection against UV-light

Rethink your skin care routine and the skin care products you normally use.

Go easier on daily cleansing and products containing alcohol:
Since extreme weather weakens skin’s balance and protective lipid barrier, you need to save your skin the additional stress of an intensive cleansing routine that will only worsen the situation. Choose a non-stripping cleanser: a rich cleansing milk or mild foaming cleanser.
If you are using a toner containing alcohol on a daily basis, it is better to stop for winter or substitute it with a non-alcohol toning product. Remember, alcohol strips skin of lipids, natural protective oils and contributes to skin’s dryness and increased sensitivity!

If you are a fan of daily peeling products, it is advisable to change your routine for winter and to do a maximum of 2-3 peel sessions per week. Peeling your skin surface on a daily basis does not let it restore its protective lipid barrier and balance itself. It becomes more susceptible to free radical damage and even to break-outs. If you notice that your skin has become very dry, sensitive or even started flaking, exclude all products containing peeling ingredients such as Retinol and AHA's.

Go heavier on your moisturizer:
Moisturizers are mostly based on humectants and emollients.
-Humectants (such as hyaluronic acid) keep our skin moisturized by attracting water to its surface (epidermis).
-Emollients (oils, butters) soften and soothe the skin; increase its ability to retain moisture and create a protective layer on the skin to prevent it from dehydration.
Look for heavier moisturizing products to use during winter. Some skin care specialists suggest using protective emollient-based skin care products for the day and humectants-based at night.

Timing is Important:
Apply your moisturizer at least 30 minutes to an hour before going outside. This is especially true if your moisturizer is humectant based or has high water content. If you do not let your moisturizer penetrate and get fully absorbed by the skin it can freeze (!) into micro ice particles on your skin’s surface.

Hot Bubbly Baths:

It is not recommended to have prolonged hot showers or long hot baths in winter. (I know it's hard getting out of there). The fact is that long showers/baths do not add to the moisture level of our skin but on the contrary take away the protecting lipid and fat layers and further contribute to skin’s dehydration. When you shower make sure the water is not too hot and use shower milk that contains oils and emollients. If you are a fan of bubble baths as a way to escape the winter blues make sure to add moisturizing oils to the baths and apply a moisturizing body product afterwards.

Nobody Cancelled Sun Protection for Winter.
In winter the sun’s reflective powers on the snow can be higher than on the sand of a beach in the summer. Use sun protection to prevent UV damage and photoaging. Your sun protection should not be lower than SPF15.

Chapped Lips and Dry Hands.
Usually lips and hands suffer most during the winter season. Lips get sore and chapped and hands get dry and flaky. For your lips, protective and moisturizing lip care products are available as tinted glosses or balms.
Take special care of your hands since skin on the hands is thinner than on the rest of the body. In addition, hands are often exposed to stressful or stripping factors like soaps, winds, water etc. It is also a known fact that hands are among the first to show signs of aging.

*What else can we do?

Vitamins and Antioxidants:

Help your skin regain its energy and strength in winter by eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and veggies. Important antioxidants for the skin are vitamins C, B, E, Zink and Magnesium.

Mini Winter Facial:

Give yourself a mini-facial at home once or twice a week. Cleanse your skin. Use a mild exfoliating product selected for your skin type.
Take a soft fluffy towel and soak it in warm water (not hot!). Add 2-3 drops of an essential oil such as lavender to sooth, de-stress and refresh the skin. Press the towel to your face and inhale 3-4 times slowly and deeply to let the oil do its aroma work. This will stimulate blood circulation as well. Apply a hydrating and soothing mask for 10-15 minutes. Take off the mask and apply your daily moisturizer with light, massaging movements. Direct the movements from the center of your face outward and a bit upward. Finish up by slightly tapping with your fingertips all over your face. This express facial will stimulate blood circulation, give your skin new energy, restore its balance and help it regain its healthy radiance!

Stay Active:
Do not give in to the winter blues! Keep up your daily fitness routine. This keeps you fit and stimulates blood circulation in your whole body and of course your skin!

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