Submit your skincare questions to Dr. Agnes, CEO of Herborium and natural medicine expert
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.