Everything You Need to Know About Winter and Acne

Everything You Need to Know About Winter and Acne

As seasons change, so does our skin—and it's not always for the better. Along with the usual dryness caused by winter, some people find that they break out more during the wintertime. So, how should you take care of your skin during the wintertime? There are a few things that you can do to ensure that your skin is hydrated and breakout-free all winter long, and glowing by the time spring rolls around.

The main thing that cold, dry air does to skin is it damages the acid mantle. Our skin’s acid mantle is responsible for helping skin regulate moisture and protect the skin from external bacteria that could cause acne.

Acne-prone skin already has lower levels of ceramides, essential molecules that keep skin healthy. In the wintertime, these levels fall even lower contributing to even more skin water loss and possibly opening up the skin to more acne. To keep your skin healthy all winter long, it’s crucially important to ensure that your acid mantle stays intact—and here’s how to do that.

  1. Swap Foaming Products for Non-foaming

While foaming cleansers and body washes are great for getting your skin super fresh and clean, they can sometimes be a little too much during the wintertime. Making a seasonal switch to a gentle, non-sudsy cleanser will help acne-prone skin stay healthy during the wintertime. You can tell if a foaming cleanser is starting to be a little too drying if your skin feels tight right after washing—while your skin should feel clean, it shouldn't ever feel too tight afterward. If your skin feels like this all year round, that's a good sign you should change your cleanser in the first place to a more gentle formula.

  1. Don’t Use Clay Masks as Frequently

Clay masks are amazing for decongesting pores and absorbing excess sebum. However, they can be overdrying for skin during the wintertime. Skip clay masks altogether during the winter and swap them out for more moisturizing sleeping masks or sheet masks. Sleeping masks are kind of like heavy moisturizers that you're meant to use at the end of your skincare routine.

They lock everything in to make your skin super smooth and soft in the morning—they're super easy to use, too. Sheet masks are designed to be used during your routine, somewhere between cleansing and your final moisturizer. They're basically masks that are drenched in 30ml of serum that seriously hydrates the skin—just don't forget to lock them in with a good occlusive after, which leads to our next point.

  1. Increase Humectant + Occlusive Use

One of the best things to do is double up on using a good humectant (like hyaluronic acid) and an occlusive to really seal the moisture into your skin. Humectants draw moisture to the epidermis from both deeper levels of the skin (the dermis) and from the environment. The most famous humectant ingredient is hyaluronic acid. There’s a right and a wrong way to use humectants, too—if you’re using them in a low humidity environment, then it’s an absolute necessity to seal it in with an occlusive. Otherwise, there isn’t enough moisture for your skin to pull from the air and your skin could get even drier!

Using an occlusive anyway (such as petroleum jelly) is a great way to prevent trans-epidermal water loss, aka TEWL. I know what you're thinking—isn't that stuff the worst for acne-prone skin? The thing is, Vaseline is actually non-comedogenic so it's not likely to break skin out. All opinions aside, Vaseline is a great occlusive to keep moisture in skin and dryness out, especially during the wintertime.

  1. Don’t Take Very Hot Showers

While a super hot shower sounds amazing on a cold winter's day, they're actually not the best for your skin. The super hot water dries and irritates skin—not what we want! It's thought that very hot water dries skin out by making our natural oils much easier to wash off. Our natural skin oils are our baseline moisture protection from the environment, and when it's stripped away, the skin is left prone to moisture barrier damage. Now, this doesn't mean you need to take cold showers—it just means that it's important to be mindful of the temperature of water you use while showering.

  1. Use a Humidifier

Humidifiers are a great way to change the moisture levels in the air from overly drying to comfortable for skin. Don't underestimate how much a dry environment affects your skin! In the wintertime, not only are things cold and dry on the outside, but central heating also dries out the air inside your home. That's a double-dose of dryness, but luckily it can be easily fixed with a humidifier. Run one at night in the bedroom, or even use a mini one at your desk. Humidifiers also help battle the spread of illness by preventing dry sinuses—when our sinuses are dry, they're more vulnerable to winter bugs.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Moisturize Constantly

Sometimes, you just need a moisture top-up. My solution? I've emptied a little bit of my fave moisturizer into a travel container and I carry that with me on the go. When my face has been super dry and on the verge of cracking off, reapplying moisturizer goes a long way. This goes for the skin on all of the body too—especially hands that dry out with hand washing. Remember, a healthy moisture barrier = less acne during the wintertime, so keep those moisture levels up!

  1. Wash Scarves and Beanies Frequently

This is one that not a lot of people realize but is super important. When we wear beanies and scarves during the winter, there's naturally a little bit of dead skin cell and sebum build-up on the fabric—whether or not we can see it. They build up in places where the fabric touches are skin, and over time they can cause acne where it touches! The solution? Swap out scarves, beanies, and even coats with collars that may touch your face frequently—I would go for at least every two days, but maximum a week to avoid any extra winter acne.

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