While there are benefits to this seasonal change with a break from the heat and high humidity of summer, winter can bring with it dry skin and discomforts. What can be done against winter dryness? Discover in this article some prevention tips to maintain healthy skin, as well as simple measures to alleviate winter dry skin.
The best solutions against dry skin in winter.
- Why does skin become dry in winter?
- Advice #1: Use a suitable moisturizing cream
- Advice #2: Apply a hydrating mask
- Advice #3: Maintain a good ambient humidity
- Advice #4: Maintain a reasonable indoor temperature
- Advice #5: Limit your consumption of alcoholic beverages
- Advice #6: Avoid long and hot showers
Why does skin become dry in winter?
Temporary but potentially prolonged, dry skin due to a loss of moisture is always a common concern in winter. While some people have dry skin all year round, others are likely to develop it or see this phenomenon exacerbated during the coldest and driest months of winter. The areas most affected are those that are naturally most exposed to the cold, namely the face, lips, and hands.
the water content of the epidermis tends to reflect the level of humidity in its surroundings.
In the face of negative temperatures, the hydrolipidic film is weakened and struggles to perform its protective role, which increases water loss. The reason why the skin does not function as well as it should be is related to a decrease in sebum levels, intercellular lipid components, and natural moisturizing factors (NMF). Moreover, with less hydration, the process of corneodesmosis is disrupted and dead cells begin to accumulate.
In essence, dry skin is usually not a serious health issue, but it can lead to complications, such as eczema flare-ups, bleeding from cracks/fissures deep enough to disrupt the blood capillaries in the dermis, or a skin infection (redness, swelling, and pus).
Advice #1: Use a suitable moisturizing cream.
The first step in combating dry skin is theapplication of a moisturizer to the skin, immediately after bathing while the skin is still damp, after washing your hands, or whenever you feel the need. These treatments help to repair the skin by filling in the spaces between the epidermal cells, preventing the degradation of the skin barrier in winter, rehydrating the epidermis, and sealing in moisture. This is made possible thanks to the three types of key ingredients they contain, which work together to keep the skin hydrated.
Use only gentle, hydrating skincare products that are free of alcohol, essential oils, and fragrances. These ingredients are considered too "harsh" for the epidermis and can further irritate dry skin.
The humectants that help to attract moisture into the outer layers of the skin. These include propylene glycol, glycerin, sorbitol, hyaluronic acid, or even lecithin.
The emollients, such as ceramides, lanolin, squalane, and fatty acids (linoleic acid, linolenic acid, lauric acid), which help to repair the skin barrier by replacing the intercellular lipids of the stratum corneum, thereby promoting the recovery of hydration.
Another set of ingredients are the occlusives such as silicone, plant waxes, vegetable butters, petroleum jelly, and mineral oils. They help retain moisture by creating a physical barrier on the skin's surface, without clogging the skin.
The formulation of the product also plays a significant role. Generally, the thicker and "oilier" the moisturizer, the more effective it will be. Therefore, instead of using a moisturizing lotion, consider opting for a balm or cream.
Advice #2: Apply a hydrating mask.
The skin requires a different care routine in cold weather. To supplement your winter hydration routine, adopt the "mask" habit to boost skin hydration and replenish its water content. One to two applications per day is sufficient to hydrate the skin.
In parallel, do not overuse scrubs in order to minimize damage to the skin barrier, and avoid using them on cracked or irritated skin. Furthermore, opt for a gentle chemical exfoliant rather than a physical scrub, which could potentially cause more damage to the skin barrier.
Advice #3: Maintain a good ambient humidity.
With the heating turned on, a warm and dry atmosphere is created which can dehydrate the skin. In addition to adding appropriate skincare products to keep the skin moisturized, consider placing a humidifier in your home. Its use will help to increase the humidity levels in the air, which proves to be useful in preventing and relieving skin dryness. Humidifiers emit a fine mist into your room to achieve an optimal humidity level between 40 and 60%, ideal for rehydrating the upper layer of the skin.
Ensure to clean it and change the water daily, as it can be an excellent environment for bacterial growth.
Advice #4: Maintain a reasonable indoor temperature.
While it may be tempting to keep your interior warm, it is suggested to keep the thermostat at a moderate temperature to maintain an optimal level of humidity in the home. With more humidity in the air, you are less likely to "suffer" from dry skin. Indeed, excessive heat can strip the skin of its moisture.
Advice #5: Limit your consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Alcohol can have diuretic effects , meaning that the body loses more water than usual, which can lead to dehydration affecting the skin. Indeed, this can contribute to making the skin more prone to dryness. However, if you consume alcohol, consider drinking a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage to help reduce the risk of dehydration.
For your information, the "National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism" (NIAAA) defines alcohol abuse as follows: more than three drinks per day or more than seven drinks per week for a woman, and more than four drinks per day or more than fourteen drinks per week for a man.
Advice #6: Avoid long and hot showers.
Long, hot baths or showers may indeed be enjoyable and soothing during the winter months, but they can damage the skin's surface by removing a large portion of the skin's hydrolipidic film, causing it to lose its hydration more quickly. Limit your time in the shower or bath to 5 to 10 minutes at most, and rinse with lukewarm water (around 98.6°F).
If you notice the onset of complications or if the measures you are taking provide no relief, consider consulting a health care professional.
LODÈN M. Role of topical emollients and moisturizers in the treatment of dry skin barrier disorders. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology (2003).
BATCHVAROVA N. & al. Evaluation of seasonal changes in facial skin with and without acne. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology (2015).
THYSSEN J. P. & al. The effect of environmental humidity and temperature on skin barrier function and dermatitis. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (2016).