Winter is most definitely among us and boy are we feeling it! The January blues have hit and we have hot water bottles and the heating up high to shake the cold – we’ve even added a few extra heaters to make the salon nice and toasty! One thing we’ve all noticed in the last couple of weeks is the change that the very bitter weather is having on our skins.

Our skin changes with its environment, in the winter our once moisture rich skin may be feeling a little tighter (along with our belts after the Christmas holiday) and more uncomfortable than normal. You may even notice it looking dull, appearing to have more wrinkles and even flaking or peeling.

The primary cause of this frustrating change is the climate, or more so the microclimate. On a typical day most of us leave our warm, centrally heated homes and brave the cold as we get into our cars, blasting the heating as quickly and highly as possible (more often than not directed at our faces). We’re then back out into the cold again, followed by a heated workplace… you get the idea. All of these changes are a lot for our skin to cope with.

Your skins primary function is to act as a protective barrier, stopping moisture from escaping and stopping and nasties getting in. It consists if skin cells (think of these as bricks in a wall) and a lipid barrier (think of this as the mortar in your wall). The frequent changes in temperature and humidity can cause the water element to your lipid barrier to be lost at a quicker rate than it can be replaced, in addition many of us are on low fat diets at this time of year meaning the oil element of our lipid barrier which is primarily fatty acids is not replaced as quickly either. There are lots of other ways in which our skins function changes but the end result is that barrier like cracked mortar does not act efficiently. It can let nasties in and allow even more of our natural moisture out this in turn causes a tight, sensitive feeling and will result in a duller thicker texture as your skin cells do not shed at the usual rate when they are lacking moisture.

It takes just 3 simple steps to help combat and banish the winter skin and trust us, the results will be worth spending those few extra minutes!

1 – up the exfoliation – unless you are using a daily exfoliator such as daily microfoliant you should be exfoliating at least 2/3 a week depending on your skin type. Exfoliation removes the build-up of dead skin cells allowing better absorption of products and will make your skin look brighter. This time of year daily exfoliation is often the best choice, a small gentle exfoliation each day is likely to feel more comfortable on winter skin. If your skin is typically acne prone stay away from scrub based exfoliators (these will spread bacteria and could cause inflammation of active acne), look for something with salicylic acid in such as our gentle cream exfoliator.

2 – Treat your skin – This can be a mask or a serum dependant on your skin type, typically skin treatments are packed with more active ingredients that change the way your skin actually functions. The new barrier defence booster would be a brilliant choice as it’s specifically designed to restore your lipid barrier and give comfort and hydration to sensitive/sensitised skin. For more of a masque based solution we love the multi vitamin power recover masque – its ultra replenishing and antioxidant rich and it’s full of botanicals and vitamins to hydrate and firm. If you’re using other brands make sure to look for ingredients that are clinically proven such as hyaluronic acid vitamins A and E in adequate quantities to make a difference to your skin – the higher up the ingredient list they are the more of them are in the product.

3 – up the moisturiser – Ok so this may be a controversial one given the BBC programme that aired recently. The study focused on whether a ‘normal’ skin needed to moisturise, the conclusion was that using a product which is solely a moisturising product with no other active ingredients does not make a long term change to the skin – Yay, we’ve been preaching this for some time!

When looking for a moisturiser you need to be looking at the ingredients and more specifically for a humectant which rather than sitting on top of the skin and locking in your skins natural moisture, actually increases your skins ability to produce and maintain moisture such as hyaluronic acid and the way in which it is encapsulated (which ensures efficient delivery within the skin rather than it sitting on top).  I particularly love the New Calm Water Gel, I’ve been using it for a few days now and will do a full review in a separate blog post (I don’t want this post to be a sales pitch but it is amazing).

You should be moisturisering at least twice a day no matter the skin type but when the heating is on full blast and the wind blowing a gale this still might not be enough to leave you feeling comfortable. If your skin is still feeling tight there are a few options; change you moisturiser (you may need a heavier one or depending on whether your skin is lacking water or oil a different composition of moisturiser); add in a hydrating booster/serum or add in a hydrating toner which can be spritzed on top of makeup.