Saturday, January 16, 2016

Winter Weather Skin Care Tips

by Claire McCormack

If your skin is sensitive (hello world), you’ve probably come to fear winter
like the zombie apocalypse. And unfortunately, it’s not just Jack Frost’s nose nips that we need to worry about. The colder it gets outside, the harder we pump the heat indoors. Our days then consist of going from cold to hot to cold. This constant flux in temperature from bitter cold to incredibly drying convection-type heat and back to bitter cold again can seriously stress and deplete our skin.

Think about it: In the summer, we leave the house in nothing but a tank dress and sandals (or at least we'd like to). In the winter, it’s a hat, gloves, scarf, sweater, parka, etc. In the same vein, if you leave your house in the winter applying the same products as you do in the summer, you’re leaving your face incredibly under-protected and too exposed to the elements and the environment.

So, in order to make these coming months a little more tolerable for your skin, we've compiled a short list of tips and tools to give it the extra protection it needs.

Expand your product arsenal. A cleanser, toner, scrub, serum/essence, balm, oil, cream and SPF is NOT excessive for winter months. When you use each product—and how much you use—depends on your skin’s needs. Experiment with different combinations to see which makes your skin the happiest. If you apply a product and see your skin is really drinking it up, add another. Your skin obviously needs it. One caveat: Try to keep your SPF as a separate product, and make sure it's not the first product you put on clean skin as it will only clog pores. Apply a toner and at least a serum first.

Calm down with the cleansing. At this time of year, your skin needs all the moisture it can get, so don’t strip it with an industrial strength cleanser. As much as you may love a soapy, gel-y, foamy face wash, switch to a gentler cleanser, at least until April. You can’t go wrong with B. Kamins Laboratories Vegetable Cleanser, or for a more luxe choice, try Sapelo Skin Care Seaweed Cleanser. Even better, use a cleansing balm. In the winter (well, all year round, really) we love Cosmetics 27 Cleanser 27 by M.E. SkinLab and the cult favorite Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm. Both balms are all-natural and full of high quality botanical ingredients that not only deeply cleanse skin, but also nourish and repair it.

I love—LOVE—my steamy morning showers ... especially on a cold winter day! You too? Well, as good as that hot water feels, we must resist the temptation to stand under a scalding stream to warm ourselves up. As I’ve aged, I’ve really seen—and felt—the toll that hot and drying water takes on my skin ... from scalp to sole. The skin on my legs and tops of my feet, where the water hits, seems impossible to keep smooth and dewy. Keep the water warm, tepid even. If you can’t tolerate a tepid flow for the entire shower, shoot for at least for part of it. The most beneficial moments would be when you’re rinsing off shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc.

While you’re in the shower, exfoliate. Everywhere. Exfoliating regularly will TRANSFORM your skin—face ... body ... all of it. Lavido’s Gentle Exfoliator Peeling Cream for face is super-gentle, with Oyster Shell Powder and Pomegranate Peel Grains to provide a subtle scrubbing action. For body, Glytone Body Wash, with—you guessed it—glycolic acid, is the gold standard exfoliating wash. It is definitely not a “green” product, though, so if you want to stay away from chemicals, the Sasawashi Mesh Body Scrub Towel, Yu-be Foaming Skin Polish Body Scrub and Mio Skincare Double Buff Dual Enzyme Exfoliator are solid exfoliator choices that provide manual, as opposed to chemical, exfoliation. Yu-be Foaming Skin Polish and Mio Skincare Double Buff can both also be used on your face. Does your scalp dry up once temperatures drop? Philip Kingsley’s Exfoliating Scalp Mask is brilliant. Not just for a healthy scalp, but the overall quality of your hair as well.
Even in winter, use an acid. Commit to using an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) product 1-2 times a day (only once at night if your skin is particularly sensitive/reactive). Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads are my hands-down favorite. They come in several different “strengths”, so even those with sensitive skin can use them. Follow your peel pads with a spritz or cotton pad soaked swipe of a hydrating toner before applying your serum.

Quick note on toners: This is the time of year to avoid all alcohol-heavy products. They are incredibly drying and irritating.
And yes, sadly this applies to alcoholic beverages as well.
Multimask! Though you should continue to use face masks in winter, opt for more hydrating ones as opposed to detoxifying clay/mud/charcoal based ones. If you have combination skin that still breaks out occasionally in winter, you can always multimask! Use a deep-cleansing/detoxifying mask on your T-zone and problem areas, like Binchotan Facial Cleansing Mask then a moisturizing mask on cheeks and drier areas. Winter is also the perfect time to work a hydrating sleep mask into your skin care routine. And honestly, any creamy mask can be a “sleep mask”, just apply before bed and leave it on overnight. The best of the best? Celeb (and royalty) favorite, Heaven Skincare’s Bee Venom Mask.