Although there are benefits to this change of season with a break from the heat and high humidity of summer, winter can bring with it dry skin and discomfort. What can be done against winter dryness? Discover in this article some preventative advice to maintain healthy skin, as well as simple measures to alleviate winter dry skin.
The best solutions against dry skin in winter.
- Why does the skin become dry in winter?
- Advice No.1: Use a suitable moisturising cream
- Advice No. 2: Apply a hydrating mask
- Advice No. 3: Maintain a good ambient humidity
- Advice No. 4: Maintain a reasonable indoor temperature
- Advice No. 5: Limit your consumption of alcoholic beverages
- Advice No. 6: Avoid long and hot showers
Why does the skin become dry in winter?
Temporary but potentially prolonged, dry skin due to a loss of moisture is always a common concern in winter. While some people have dry skin all year round, others are likely to develop it or see this phenomenon exacerbated during the coldest and driest months of winter. The most affected areas are those that are naturally most exposed to the cold, namely the face, lips and hands.
the water content of the epidermis tends to reflect the level of humidity in its surroundings.
In the face of negative temperatures, the hydrolipidic film is weakened and struggles to perform its protective role, which increases water loss. The reason why the skin does not function as well as it should be is related to a decrease in sebum levels, intercellular lipid components and natural moisturising factors (NMF). Furthermore, with less hydration, the process of corneodesmosis is disrupted and dead cells begin to accumulate.
In essence, dry skin is not usually a serious health issue, but it can lead to complications, such as eczema flare-ups, bleeding from cracks or chaps deep enough to disrupt the blood capillaries in the dermis, or a skin infection (redness, swelling, and pus).
Advice No.1: Use a suitable moisturising cream.
The first step in combating dry skin is theapplication of a moisturiser to the skin, immediately after bathing while the skin is still damp, after washing your hands or whenever you feel the need. These treatments help to repair the skin by filling the gaps between the epidermal cells, preventing the degradation of the skin barrier in winter, rehydrating the epidermis and sealing in moisture. This is particularly possible thanks to the three types of key ingredients they contain, which work together to keep the skin hydrated.
Only use gentle, hydrating skincare products that are free from alcohol, essential oils, and fragrances. These ingredients are considered too "harsh" for the epidermis and can further irritate dry skin.
The humectants that assist in attracting moisture to the outer layers of the skin. These include propylene glycol, glycerine, sorbitol, hyaluronic acid, and lecithin.
Emollients , such as ceramides, lanolin, squalane, and fatty acids (linoleic acid, linolenic acid, lauric acid), which help to repair the skin barrier by replacing the intercellular lipids of the stratum corneum, thereby promoting the recovery of hydration.
Another set of ingredients are the occlusives such as silicone, plant waxes, vegetable butters, petroleum jelly, and mineral oils. They help to retain moisture by creating a physical barrier on the skin's surface, without clogging the skin.
The formulation of the product also plays a significant role. Generally, the thicker and "oilier" the moisturising treatment is, the more effective it will be. Therefore, instead of using a moisturising lotion, it would be better to opt for a balm or cream.
Advice No. 2: Apply a hydrating mask.
The skin requires a different care routine in cold weather. To complement your winter hydration routine, adopt the "mask" reflex in order to boost skin hydration and replenish its water supply. One to two applications per day is sufficient to hydrate the skin.
In parallel, do not overuse scrubs in order to minimise damage to the skin barrier, and avoid using them on cracked or irritated skin. Furthermore, opt for a gentle chemical exfoliant rather than a physical scrub, which could potentially cause further damage to the skin barrier.
Advice No. 3: Maintain a good ambient humidity.
With the heating turned on, a warm and dry atmosphere is created which can dehydrate the skin. In addition to incorporating suitable skincare products to keep the skin moisturised, consider placing a humidifier in your home. Its use will help to increase the humidity levels in the air, which proves to be beneficial in preventing and alleviating skin dryness. Humidifiers emit a fine mist into your room to achieve an optimal humidity level between 40 and 60%, ideal for rehydrating the upper layer of the skin.
Ensure that you clean it and change the water daily, as they can be an excellent breeding ground for bacteria.
Advice No. 4: Maintain a reasonable indoor temperature.
While it may be tempting to keep your home warm, it is suggested to keep the thermostat at a moderate temperature to maintain an optimal level of humidity in the dwelling. With more humidity in the air, you are less likely to "suffer" from dry skin. Indeed, excessive heat can strip the skin of its moisture.
Advice No. 5: Limit your consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Alcohol can have diuretic effects , meaning that the body loses more water than usual, which can lead to dehydration affecting the skin. Indeed, this can contribute to making the skin more prone to dryness. However, if you consume alcohol, consider drinking a glass of water between each alcoholic drink to help reduce the risk of dehydration.
For your information, the "National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism" (NIAAA) defines alcohol abuse as follows: more than three drinks per day or more than seven drinks per week for a woman, and more than four drinks per day or more than fourteen drinks per week for a man.
Advice No. 6: Avoid long and hot showers.
Long, hot baths or showers may indeed be enjoyable and soothing during the winter months, but they can damage the skin's surface by stripping away much of the skin's hydrolipidic film, causing it to lose its hydration more quickly. Limit your time in the shower or bath to a maximum of 5 to 10 minutes, and rinse with lukewarm water (around 37°C).
If you notice the onset of complications or if the measures you are taking provide no relief, consider consulting a health professional.
LODÈN M. Role of topical emollients and moisturizers in the treatment of dry skin barrier disorders. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology (2003).
BATCHVAROVA N. & al. Evaluation of seasonal changes in facial skin with and without acne. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology (2015).
THYSSEN J. P. & al. The effect of environmental humidity and temperature on skin barrier function and dermatitis. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (2016).