5 winter skincare tips for healthier, happier skin

Dr Unnati Desai Dr Unnati Desai National Lead for GP Services
It can be a challenge to take care of our skin, especially if you have an underlying condition like eczema or regularly experience dry and flaky skin. During the colder months, a lack of sunlight and harsh and wintery conditions can leave skin looking and feeling parched, flaky and dull.

Even under the best of circumstances, when the weather turns cold and humidity levels drop, keeping your skin hydrated can become even more difficult. Dr Unnati Desai, National Lead for GP Services and Emma Williams, Beauty Operational Support Manager at Nuffield Health discuss winter skincare tips and explore five key things you can do to take better care of your skin this winter.

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.

Other things to remember

Stay consistent

Consistency is key when it comes to any skincare routine.

Regularly moisturising and applying other protective products can help maintain skin hydration and prevent dryness and irritation.

By sticking to a consistent routine, you build a protective barrier that shields against harsh winter conditions. Regular exfoliation, hydration, and the use of sun cream creates a stable environment for the skin, reducing the risk of dryness, redness, and flakiness.

Understand the role of your diet

Eating more fruits and vegetables that provide essential vitamins, antioxidants, and hydration can help support skin health throughout winter.

Valuable nutrients like vitamin C and E help repair and protect skin from environmental damage. They also have a high water content that helps with moisture levels. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables also promotes better overall health, leading to more resilient skin.

By eating more fruit and vegetables, you'll also have less room for processed junk foods. Quick and easy food like ready meals and takeaways are packed with refined ingredients which can further aggravate and inflame our skin.

It's a year round process

Maintaining a year-round skincare routine is crucial. It helps to build a consistent foundation for healthy skin to reduce your risk of flare-ups, dryness, and other issues that can crop up when the seasons change.

By developing your routine during the warmer months, you'll have a better understanding of the products and practices that work for your skin when winter rolls around.

You'll become more aware of your skin's specific needs, allowing you to adjust your routine accordingly. This proactive approach can lead to better outcomes and a lower risk of sudden outbreaks and flareups.

Know when to see a professional

The condition of your skin can significantly influence your confidence and your overall health. No matter what issue you're facing, we offer the information and services necessary to give your skin the attention and care it deserves.

If you're not sure where to turn next, click here for more information on our dermatological services.

Last updated Wednesday 1 May 2024

First published on Friday 8 November 2019