Winters can leave your skin dry, itchy, and sad. But don’t worry, as we bring you some winter skincare tips from dermatologists so that you can combat the horror of dry winter skin easily.
We all adore winters for its holidays, hot chocolate, nights by the fire, and the very cozy feeling of getting wrapped in our blankets. But, let’s all agree the havoc winter brings to our skin is cruel and not something we appreciate. The winter season requires you to put extra attention to your skin as the chilly weather and dry air can take away all the moisture, and leave your skin dull, cracked, and unhappy. So, if you’re looking to keep your skin glowing and hydrated all winter long, then read these winter skincare tips by our expert dermatologists Dr. Sravya C Tipirneni, Dr. Preeti Kothari, and Dr. Sonam Ramrakhiani.
How does winter affects your skin?
While cold temperatures can seem like a huge relief from the scorching heat – it can get really harsh on the skin. Low humidity levels tend to affect the skin barrier in many ways. Dr. Sonam tells us that the skin is made up of multiple layers called the epidermis and dermis. “The dermis is where your water levels are highest and this is prevented from evaporating into the atmosphere by the skin oil or sebum, which coats the epidermis and forms a protective barrier”, explains Dr. Sonam, a board-certified Dermatologist with a special interest in Acne & Hair Loss.
While Levels of moisture in the skin can vary according to age, gender, environmental factors, and lifestyle practices-here are some changes according to Dr. Sonam that are triggered by the winter season:
- Skin Sebum(oil) tends to dry out faster damaging the skin barrier and exposing the lower layers to the harsh climate.
- Damaged Skin barrier causes increased water evaporation and loss from within the skin layers.
- In-room heaters and hot water baths increase this water loss from the skin and make it even drier and irritated.
According to Dr. Sravya C Tipirneni, the cold weather, dry air, low levels of humidity, and also dehydration in some people lead to more evaporation of the natural water content in the skin. “It leads to dry & cracked skin over a period of time. But, this depends on which geographical area the person is living in and what their skincare routine is”, says Dr. Sravya, who is a consultant Dermatologist & Cosmetologist.
Dr. Preeti Kothari, who is also a Dermatologist and an MD SKIN Gold Medalist, says that the cold weather the winter brings is capable of driving moisture away from the skin. “This in turn can leave the skin dull, dry, and flaky. It can even cause cracked lips and bleeding”, she explains. In a nutshell, it’s the cold and dry weather that is the trouble and can affect your skin in various ways.
Ways in which your skin can suffer:
When it comes to winters, it goes beyond dryness and itchiness, and there are many ways in which these two things can cause a lot of trouble for your skin. “Well, dryness of the skin triggers the activation of multiple associated skin problems like flaky skin, rough patches, redness, cracks, itching, stinging sensation, increased sensitivity and allergies. Not all will develop at the same time but they will be progressive if the skin changes are not reversed in time”, says Dr. Sonam. Dr. Sravya also stresses that the dryness of the skin should be taken care of properly. “People don’t realize that dry skin can cause a lot of itching as well as cracked heels, elbows, knees, and a lot of peeling from the lips can happen too”, she further adds. Thus, it’s important for us to keep our skin hydrated, otherwise, it’ll be a big loss for the skin.
The correct way to Moisturize
Now that we know the root cause of major winter skin problems is Dryness, it’s time we take moisturization a little extra seriously. But, slathering your body into lotion and moisturizer randomly won’t really help. It needs consistency, the right application, and the right product.
“For this, it’s important to understand the role of its different ingredients. A humectant like glycerine will pull water from the areas of increased humidity to the areas of low water content. An occlusive like petrolatum, shea butter will seal the skin not allowing easy water exchange with the environment. Ingredients like hyaluronic acid facilitate holding water into the skin layers. More than the formulation and the contents what plays a very important role is the correct method to use a moisturizer”, suggests Dr. Sonam to all those who are on a moisturizer hunt.
Once you’ve bought the right moisturizer, it’s time you learn the right way to apply it to your skin. “Moisturizer should be applied with gentle circular motions and in an upward direction. It is ideal to apply after a bath or on slightly damp skin”, advises Dr. Preeti. While according to Dr. Sravya, the right time to apply moisturizer is always immediately after a shower on damp skin, where it can act as a sealant and trap the moisture that’s already on the skin. “Don’t slather the tons of moisturizer to your skin once it’s completely bone dry after rubbing vigorously with a towel. So, just leave your skin a little damp after a shower and apply moisturizer. This way you have easy spreadability and lesser quantity used as well”, she explains.
Making things simpler for us, Dr. Sonam suggests these simple steps to apply moisturize in the correct way:
Step 1: Soak your skin in lukewarm to cold water for a few minutes allowing the skin layers to absorb the water.
Step 2: Immediately apply a moisturizer on damp skin (hydrating contents like ceramides, oats, and hyaluronic acid work like moisture magnets and attract water molecules 10-100 times their weight. They also are capable to hold this moisture in the deeper layers of the epidermis and dermis.)
Step 3: For very dry and thick skin areas you can consider layering a second moisturizer that is richer in occlusives like body butter.
She further recommends Cetaphil Daily Advanced moisturizing cream, Cetaphil Restoraderm moisturizing lotion, Physiolift lotion, and Nourish Oat body lotion if you are planning to buy a new moisturizer.
To Exfoliate or not?
Exfoliating is a great way to treat your skin. It helps replenish it and improve the effectiveness of moisturizers. But is it a good idea to exfoliate in winter? Well, here’s what our experts say! “It’s a good idea, but I will not recommend exfoliating too much in winter unless you have a condition that requires you to do so. You can save it for summer”, says Dr. Sravya. While Dr. Sonam believes exfoliating in winters is like a two-edged sword!
“Moderation is the key here, so for oily skin, I recommend exfoliation using Glycolic/ salicylic acid-based products only once in 1-2 weeks, depending on their age and gender. For dry skin, individuals on the other hand, I strictly discourage exfoliating anything more than once a month in winter. Also, here I would prefer simple HYDRAFACIALS (exfoliating and hydrating medical facials) done by an expert over chemical /physical exfoliators, since skin experts can have better control than someone doing it at home”, she further explains.
Those with Oily or Dry Skin
For those who have dry or oily skin, it’s always a task to take care of it. Unlike other combination skin, oily or dry skin requires extra effort every season. Dr. Preeti advises washing the face daily as well as exfoliating twice once or twice a week. “People who have oily skin should avoid using oil-based moisturizer. While, those who have dry skin, should moisturize twice or more, use an oil-based moisturizer. Don’t neglect your elbows, knees, hands, and feet. Avoid very hot water baths and harsh peels if your skin is too dry”, she says.
For both skin types, one common piece of advice from Dr. Sonam is to not lower the protective guards and continue using their sunscreens as actively as they would on any other day. “If you have an oily skin, then don’t use hot water to wash your face as this may clean well but will trigger rebound oil production and irritation. Also, go easy on your anti-acne or oil control medications. For dry skin, make sure the cleansers are soap-free, gentle, and ph balanced. For both face and body to make the most benefits, go easy on any exfoliators for your skin to as less as twice a month as this can cause flaky and irritable skin. Also, moisturize right after wash to make the most benefit.”, says Dr. Sonam.
Take care of your scalp!
Your scalp is important too and requires care and proper treatment. A healthy scalp produces healthy hair, so it’s essential to take care of it, especially when it comes to showering your hair. “Try to stick to lukewarm water and don’t take a shower with very hot water as it rips the skin of all the lipid content or oil content and leaves your skin drier. You can also oil your hair 20 minutes before you bathe. Also, use a gentle shower mousse or gel that doesn’t overdry the skin. Pat dry instead of Wiping yourself”, suggests Dr. Sravya.
Dr. Sonam recommends Reverse cleansing i.e condition first, wash afterward, and condition again for very dry frizzy hair. She also suggests to avoid Hot water use/scalp steaming during hair spas. “Hot oil massages are both nourishing and relaxing. Once a week, 30 min before bath, is how I like it. Use a mild shampoo with minimal ingredients to avoid that winter frizz”, she further adds.
It’s also very important to know the difference between a dry scalp and dandruff. Both are two different conditions and require specific treatments. “Sometimes dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis may be confused with dry scalp. One must see a dermatologist to rule out the same”, says Dr. Preeti. According to Dr. Sravya, a dry scalp can be treated by massaging a coconut oil 20 minutes just before you wash your hair. “If it’s dandruff, then get it treated with medicated shampoo and see if the flaking decreases”, she adds.
Don’t forget the lips!
Lips are extremely fragile and 100 times more sensitive than your fingertips. They don’t have sweat glands, and there’s no defensive membrane to protect them. That’s why we can’t really compromise on them. “Lips definitely demand extra care and protection during winters since they are devoid of oil glands completely and hence dependent on external moisturizers only. I prefer to recommend lip oils, ghee application as they are the ones that have really stood the test of time. Moisturize using a creamy moisturizer first and then seal with a chapstick/oil for longer-lasting benefits”, suggests Dr. Sonam.
Dr. Preeti also advises keeping it well moisturized. ” Use a lip balm regularly. Make sure your lip balm has SPF. Do not lick your lips and stay hydrated”, she says. Dr. Sravya, too feels that Lipcare goes hand in hand with the body, and using ceramide lip balm or even regular petroleum jelly works beautifully to seal in the moisture.
Eat the right food
A good diet with the right fruits and vegetables can do wonders for your body. During winters, when you feel like eating a little extra and treating your tummy in delicious ways, why not add some goodness of vegetables and fruits to boost your health? “Carrots, green leafy vegetables, beetroot, nuts, figs, dates, broccoli, berries, citrus fruits are some great foods for glowing skin in winter”, says Dr. Preeti. Dr. Sravya suggests going for a rainbow diet. “It basically includes all the brightly coloured fruits and vegetables that are rich in flavonoid, carotenoid, and beta carotene. It fights off the free radicals and damage caused to the skin by environmental factors”, she says.
A Quick skincare routine goes a long way
Now, after reading everything mentioned above, if you are excited about your winter skincare, then here’s what you can do. Dr. Sonam was kind enough to share her skincare routine with us, and this is what she does. “My personal favourite skincare routine in winters include Lactic acid based face wash for exfoliating and hydrating. I use Niacinamide serum for anti-inflammation and oil-controlling. Hyaluronic-based moisturizer and a hydrating sunscreen is what I apply. I make it a point to repeat sunscreen every 3 hours (strictly) and follow the same routine at night with retinol once a week”, she says.
On the other hand, Dr. Preeti suggests cleansing, toning, and using a serum with Vitamin C or others based on the needs of the skin. “One should also use moisturizer and sunscreen in their routine. Before you go to bed, follow this: Cleanse- tone- night cream/treatment cream or moisturizer”, she explains.
Dr. Sravya likes to keep it very simple with the right products. “I wash my face with La Roche-Posay’s Pigmentclar and use Emolin cream as a moisturizer in winter. Sometimes, I use a plain hyaluronic acid serum to moisturize as well. I also use a watery sunscreen Barelyon by Dermatica Ray, because I have very acne-prone skin and this sunscreen doesn’t make my skin feel greasy. At bedtime, I wash my face again and apply the moisturizer again and alternate my skin with vitamin C serum or retinol serum”, she explains.
She further suggests using a gentle face wash for dry skin and a salicylic acid face wash for very oily skin and something gentle with Niacinamide for combination skin. “Moisturizing and hydrating moisturizer definitely containing a little bit of aloe vera and hyaluronic acid is what I’d recommend. However, for very dry skin, liquid and soft paraffin cream is something great”, she says.
We hope these winter skincare by Dermatologists were useful. If you have any questions, tell us in the comment section below 🙂