5 tips to protect your skin this winter

Dr Unnati Desai Dr Unnati Desai National Lead for GP Services
During the colder months, a combination of lack of sunlight and harsh, wintery conditions can leave skin parched, flaky and dull. Dr Unnati Desai, Dermatology Lead and Emma Williams, Beauty Operational Support Manager at Nuffield Health discuss five key things you can do to take care of your skin in the winter.

It can be a challenge to take care of our skin, even under the best of circumstances. In the wintertime, when the weather turns cold and humidity levels drop, keeping your skin hydrated can become even more difficult.

At this time of year, our skin naturally dries out more – so it’s important to do all you can to look after it. Here are some simple tips to give your skin the best chance of getting through the winter chap, itch and crack free.

1. Avoid harsh soaps

If your soap is so strong that it leaves your skin feeling ‘squeaky clean’, then it’s stripped the skin of its natural oils, leaving it too dry. Alcohol-based preps will do the same thing. That’s why it’s important to use a gentle product that will cleanse the skin without removing the oils.

2. Take warm (not hot) showers

One of the skin’s most important roles is to keep moisture locked in, but long, hot baths and showers – as well as aggressive exfoliation – can damage this ability. When the skin’s barrier function is compromised, we get trans-epidermal water loss, which makes the skin drier.

Try have shorter, cooler washes, exfoliate gently using mitts or a natural loofah, and use a good moisturiser afterwards.

3. Hydrate your skin

Several skin conditions can become aggravated in winter, like eczema, psoriasis and lichen simplex. Don’t be disheartened if you have dry skin problems – there are three things you can do to keep your skin well hydrated:

  • Use a good moisturiser full of ceramides (the skin’s hydrating factors) and hyaluronic acid (to attract water into the skin)
  • Drink plenty of water (avoid caffeine, tea and excess alcohol, which can dehydrate you more)
  • Central heating can dry out the skin, so use a humidifier to keep hydrated.

4. Cleanse and tone

During the winter, look for cleansing balms and oils that help to maintain the natural oil content in the skin.

After cleansing, and before moisturising, use a toner to help rebalance the skin’s natural acid mantle (a fine layer on the surface of the skin that protects against bacteria and the elements). Lemon juice, for example, can be used as a toner to restore the acid mantle.

5. Use sun protection

If you’re off on a sunny winter break, remember to use a high-factor sunblock – aim for SPF 50, star rating 5.

Staying in the UK? There are still some UV rays coming through the clouds (believe it or not!), so try to use low-factor sunblock of SPF 12–15.

In summary

By following these important tips, you’ll keep your skin happy – and healthy – all winter long.

Last updated Monday 11 November 2019

First published on Friday 8 November 2019