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Skin care for dry skin – How to look after it in the winter months

by Laura Palmer

December’s here, hurrah! Christmas, cosy knits, and nights by the fire. But have you found your skin isn’t looking as radiant as you’d like? Icy winds and the mercury dipping below zero can play havoc with your complexion, resulting in dehydrated, rough, cracked, and itchy skin. Add dry indoor heat, and low humidity levels, and your face and body could soon reach Sahara-like dryness levels! But don’t panic. With a little self-care and A LOT of moisturiser, you’ll soon be back to your best. Here’s a guide to winter skin care for dry skin to get you Christmas party ready in no time:

1. The first rule of skin care for dry skin: Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise:

Moving from the cold outdoors to warm indoor environments dehydrates the skin. So you need to replenish that lost moisture as often as possible. If you can, apply moisturiser twice a day. One of those times should be on damp skin after you bathe or shower, to lock the moisture in. Yes, it’s a time suck, but the baby soft skin will be worth it, promise.

Wondering which cream to choose? The internet’s your oyster, but any kind of emollient will help. Best to go unperfumed because scent and colourings can aggravate dry, parched skin. Brands like Cetaphil and CeraVe both offer unscented, super rich creams for face and body that won’t break the bank.

Got a ride-or-die brand you don’t want to switch from? Look out for products that contain comforting hydrating oils like jojoba, skin moisture saviour hyaluronic acid, or ceramides. Ceramides are lipids that make up to 50% of the skin and form the natural skin barrier. Applying a cream with ceramides helps protect this barrier, which is broken down more easily during the winter. Most definitely a skin care for dry skin must-have.

Get friendly with occlusives:

If emollient moisturisers aren’t doing it for your dry skin, try adding an occlusive into your skincare routine. Occlusives are rich creams that provide a physical barrier that helps to maintain the skin barrier and locks moisture into your skin. Shea and cocoa butter, rosehip oil, and even good old Vaseline all have occlusive properties (and are all relatively inexpensive – win). Stock up and slap them on (gently of course!) after moisturising.

2. Cool it with the hot baths and showers

There’s nothing like taking the chill off with a hot and steamy shower or bath. But if you’re following a skin care for dry skin routine, it’s a big no-no. Why? Because hot water can zap the natural oils from your skin. This can cause irritation, dryness, and – if you like it piping hot – even damage the skin. Instead, keep the water temperature just warm enough to soothe and relax you, dermatologists recommend 98.6°F/37°C.

In the tub or shower, be sure to avoid irritating soap bars or harsh body washes. They can also strip the moisture from your skin. Instead, choose creamy cleansers, or moisturising oils to clean up. If you’re an exfoliation fan, it’s a good idea to opt for a gentle chemical exfoliant, rather than a physical scrub in the winter. This is because the large particles in some scrubs can break down your skin’s moisture barrier.

When you get out, take it easy with the towelling. Gently pat your skin rather than rubbing and use a soft towel to blot the skin lightly. This allows a thin layer of moisture to remain on the top layer of your skin, which you can then seal in with moisturiser. Ta-dah!

3. Humidify your home:

A humidifier is not just for seeing off chesty coughs and perking up your plants, it’s also key in any skin care for dry skin regime. Many dermatologists actually recommend humidifiers as part of the treatment for eczema and chronic dry skin.

Humidifiers work by adding moisture back into the dry air that cranking up the central heating generates. More moisture in the air means your skin won’t be stripped of natural oils and dry out. Research by scientists at Harvard has shown that using a humidifier at 60%, can actually replenish the top layer of the epidermis and reverse dry skin symptoms – impressive!

A word of caution though – don’t forget to regularly clean your humidifier with soap and water, or vinegar. If you don’t, it could quickly start to harbour bacteria, fungi, yeast, and even mould – euw!

4. Don’t put away the SPF:

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you should swerve the sun cream. In the colder months, there is less UVB around, but levels of UVA (or UV-Ageing as dermatologists like to call it) are still high enough to damage your skin. Using sunscreen with a high UVA all year round is a key part of skin care for dry skin. This will protect your skin, keep wrinkles at bay, and minimise skin damage.

Be aware that if you are using sunscreen daily, you are blocking out UVB, the wavelength that stimulates vitamin D production in your body. So it’s worth taking a supplement (The Patchworks D3/Calcium Plus patch is here) to ensure your D levels are always A-OK.

5. Glow from within:

It’s not just what you apply topically and your environment that can help your skin. The right supplements and what you eat also play a role in skin care for dry skin. Get your nutrition right and you’ll keep your complexion fresh, glowing, and hydrated.

Eat plenty of vitamin A rich foods like sweet potato, eggs, green leafy vegetables, and yellow fruit, such as mango, or apricots. Vitamin A combats dry skin because it contains retinoids and carotenoids, which activate certain pathways in the body that look after the skin.

Foods that are high in anti-oxidants are another must, because they fight off oxidative stress in the body, and help protect your skin cells from environmental damage. Brightly coloured berries like strawberries, goji, and blueberries, dark green leafy veg such as kale, pecan nuts, and red cabbage are all anti-oxidant rich. As is dark chocolate – chocoholics rejoice!

It’s also wise to eat things packed with omega-3 fatty acids. Try loading up on avocado, oily fish like mackerel, sardines and salmon, flax and chia seeds, and walnuts. These fatty acids work by helping the body make healthy cells, including skin cells.

6. Skin care for dry skin supplement saviours:

Our final tip is (of course) don’t forget the supplements! Both collagen and biotin can have a potent effect on the skin and should be top of your list. Topping up your biotin levels helps to regulate fatty acid metabolism, which in turn can protect new skin cells from external damage and dehydration. The Patchworks Biotin Plus Patch also contains powerful polyphenols, anti-oxidants, and vitamins, all chosen for their anti-aging and detoxifying properties.

Collagen provides the infrastructure for your skin, so boosting your levels can improve elasticity and moisture. In a study where a group of women (aged 35 plus) took a collagen supplement each day, for 12 weeks, their skin hydration improved by 28%! The Collagen Plus Patch also contains hyaluronic acid, which increases skin moisture and reduces the appearance of fine lines – bonus!