The same is true any time of the year, but we seem to be more aware of the challenge with dry skin during winter months. We head indoors during cooler months, embracing our blankets, scarves, and sweaters while enjoying a cup of coffee or eggnog while the crock-pot is preparing a stew. Meanwhile the freezing temperatures, low humidity, and the need to crank up the furnace, often leave the skin dry, flaking and itching.
Protecting your skin from excessive dryness is extremely important to maintain skin barrier defenses, and it is even truer if you also suffer from skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and xerosis. These skin conditions flare-up with low humidity and low-temperature conditions and it is necessary to step up efforts to maintain stronger skin. The truth is that any trauma to the skin, such as cracking, causes an inflammatory response, which can make the skin more susceptible to flare-ups of these conditions.
Even if you don’t have an obvious skin condition, dry skin can lead to bigger skin problems; so you too should follow these steps, as prevention is far better than cure.
1. Remember the SPF – even in cooler months!
Remember that the reflection from the snow can be just as harmful as the sun during the warmer seasons. While you might not feel hot the UV rays are still harmful to the skin, so cover and protect exposed skin.
2. Water Temperatures – for showers and baths
Even though your toes might be freezing, don’t submerge yourself in overly hot showers and baths. Your skin contains lipids (oils) essential to the skin’s performance and lipids are necessary to form the skin barrier. This barrier is your first line of defense.
Pat your skin dry after your shower or bath, and MOISTURIZE! Think about what you are using to cleanse your skin with, as this can ‘wash out’ the critical lipids necessary for skin barrier function. This brings us to the next step.
3. Choose a rich biocompatible moisturizer – feed your skin.
The skin barrier forms a line of defense for our bodies; the first three lines of skin barrier defense easily affected by dry skin conditions are the acid mantle, corneocytes (the outermost layer of our skin), and the multilamellar lipid structure. Without these three l
ines of skin barrier defense, the inner world of the epidermis and dermis is open to the extremes of the outer environments that contain allergens and pathogens.
The creation of the skin barrier is dependent on a number of factors; components that are critical to skin barrier functions include; Free Fatty Acids, Ceramides and Cholesterol. These are part of the multilamellae lipid structure of the stratum corneum. Without these components, skin remains compromised and the vicious circle continues that can trigger the innate immune system.
One idea behind a rich biocompatible moisturizer is that the lack of lipids in the skin speeds up transepidermal water loss (TEWL). As lipids sit on water, it helps to retain moisture in your skin, which amongst other functions is necessary for enzyme activity within the skin. In effect, the use of moisturizers based on the science of corneotherapy effectively means you are applying a skin barrier while your skin is given the opportunity to repair its natural barrier.
4. Humidity in your air –humidifiers
If you live in areas of low humidity consider adding a humidifier to your home or space you live in the most. It will help retain moisture in your skin as low humidity increases TEWL leaving your skin dry. Of course, great skin care is a must on top of this.
5. Review your skin care regime
Your skin care requirements may be different in winter than it is in summer. You should adapt your skin care regime accordingly. It is typical that skin requires more lipids in their winter regime, and a lighter texture moisturizer in summer. Your active ingredients should also be adjusted. Winter is a great time to focus on actives such as Vitamin A as an example because sun exposure is lower and vitamin A can be better utilized.
With this knowledge, you will be armed with healthier skin and I know you will fill more comfortable in your skin when you follow these skin care protocols.