There are so many different things that contribute to dry skin and during winter it seems everything is conspiring to make our skin gasp for moisture!
I receive a lot of customers enquiries asking how to best combat dry skin and my most frequent tips surround the use of body washes and soaps, because generally skin feels at its most dry and thirsty after a soak or shower. So here are my top 5 bathing and washing tips to keeping skin hydrated during winter.
Tip 1 - prolonged heat is not your friend
Everyone feels perfectly at ease in a hot shower, they’re liberating and relaxing. If you’re someone who’s in love with a steaming hot bath this one should be an immediate priority and easy fix. Showers wake us up in the morning and baths put us at ease after a long day at work. But they’re also one of the fastest ways to completely strip away the natural oils that protect our skin. These oils are a necessity to keeping skin feeling moisturised and looking plump and healthy. To keep your skin looking at its best keep the water temperature lukewarm. If you simply must have a hot shower, follow it up with a blast of cold water to close the pores and limit damage.
So bin those decadent long soaks, a short soak in a warm bath followed by immediate moisturising works well to keep skin supple and healthy.
Tip 2 - find your match
Matching the product you use to your skin type is sounds obvious but overtime we can become so used to using one particular product or brand that seasonal changes in our skin aren't always noticed. I used to use one brand in particular - loved their products! - but with each change in season mine and my children's' eczema would flare up never did it occur to me to change the what I thought was gentle body wash, I'd just apply more or different prescription emollients. Well that was then, now after years of formulating training I'm much more 'woke'!! SLS/SLES’s (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate / Sodium Laureth Sulfate) are surfactant chemical compounds, these surface active ingredients are responsible for that thick creamy foam found in many body washes. But the downside is SLS’s can be pretty harsh on delicate skin and can also strip away the important skin flora which may throw off our natural pH level.
A great body wash will cleanse the entire skin without causing irritation and will moisturise and nourish it at the same time. Advances in natural and organic skincare ingredients mean there are many highly effective and nourishing alternatives, generally produced by indie beauty brands, that also produce lovely creamy foam and cleanse well. So swap out the products that aren't providing that extra level of moisture and skin nourishment during the winter.
Tip 3 - oil, the gentle cleanse
Body cleansing oils work just like those that you apply to your face. So because like dissolves like, oils (dirt, grime and impurities) dissolve in other oils. Body cleansing oils clean the skin by attaching to dirt and grime by effectively suspending the impurities and then carrying them off your skin when washed away with the warm water. The best part is they do this whilst actually locking in the skins natural moisture.
Tip 4 - one word e-x-f-o-l-i-a-t-e
Sorry if I seem to over egg this tip but I cant stress enough the need to slough off dead skin cells to reveal softer new skin. There are a few product options here for dry skin. An exfoliating body wash is a great way to remove dry and dead skin cells, exfoliating body washes leave the skin feeling much smoother. There shouldn’t be any need to scrub too hard or too often with exfoliating and is should leave behind clean, fresh skin. Always remembering to follow up with a body moisturiser after showering with a body wash to lock the moisture in.
To get the best of both worlds use an oil based body scrub. Cleansing oils maintain your skins natural pH and are an effective cleanser for pretty much all skin types. If you’re debating on whether an oil based body wash makes sense for you, then why not welcome the new year with a new body care routine. After all in winter we need to lock in all the moisture we can get!
Tip 5 - moisturise and protect
Such an important final tip your moisturiser for the winter needs to be slightly richer and contain more hydrating and nourishing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, avocado oil, argan oil, jojoba oil in facial moisturisers. They're also great moisturising ingredients for your body along with shea and cocoa butter. Moisturisers high in anti-oxidants give a neutralising blast to free radicals and protect our own skin cells. Look for plant and fruit stem cells, like edelweiss, grapes, roses and swiss apple in facial moisturisers and vitamin C, green tea extract and vitamin E in moisturisers and toners.
Despite less sun in the UK during winter sun damage can still occur because UV rays penetrate clouds. Protect your skin with sunscreen in winter and stock up on SPF to keep premature wrinkles and skin damage at bay.
What's your best winter skin tip? Leave a comment below.