Colder days may keep hair smooth but they’re no friend to skin. Between electric heaters and face-inflaming winds, protecting your natural moisture balance suddenly seems as important as fighting UV damage. If you notice your foundation’s natural finish looking decidedly more matte this week it is definitely time to get excited about skincare launches that keep you dewy and soft.
I must first stress that hydrating the body from within is just as vital as good skincare, especially as the cold encourages consumption of heartier, starchier foods. Dehydration is a state we associate with summer but how appealing is drinking water when there’s a nip in the air?
Eating more mushrooms, cucumbers, tomatoes and spinach (all four are over 90% water, according to BUPA) is an unglamorous but inexpensive way to boost water levels, while switching coffee for matcha (I won’t suggest it gives you the same kick as espresso but it does rejuvenate you, not least through a shot of antioxidant goodness) protects your skin from the powerful diuretic effects of caffeine.
Swapping Diet Coke for kombucha is so much harder for me (and more expensive, ridiculously) but I’ve been trying. Il faut souffrir pour être belle and all that. I even drink gazpacho out of season. External defence begins with the right cleanser. Striking a balance between removing your makeup properly and keeping skin hydrated can be tricky.
A dry face both reduces the need for fixing products (spray, primer, etc.) and holds fast to traces of powder and pigment at night, when you barely have the lighting to identify them. Concerns over going to sleep grimy may have you reaching for bar soaps or wads of facial wipes but both simply reinforce dryness, stripping what moisture skin has and depositing pore-clogging residue.
Scrubs contain abrasive particles that inflame skin and can even cause micro tears that reduce skins ability to retain moisture. Face washes can work well if they are emollient, something milky or oily gets makeup moving quickly while the necessary rinses clear residue.
Distillery, Avon’s new vegan skincare line, includes a cleansing balm called Clean Break, €17 at avon.uk.com/distillery. I have never seen a cleanser like this, it is 69% apricot oil! Cocoa butter is the next most prevalent ingredient. It is fragrance and alcohol free and completely safe to use on eczema and psoriasis. It is also very reasonably priced for a cleansing balm, if dryness is your concern you really can’t go wrong.
Peeling skin is alarming, those white shreds are almost as worrisome a side effect of dryness as fine lines. As expressed, scrubs are not your friend. A gentle alpha, beta or polyhydroxy acid toner can smooth things out quickly. By “gentle” I mean a product that does not mix these ingredients with fragrance, alcohol or essential oils, which can inflame and sensitise skin and — in alcohol’s case— dehydrate it further.
The nourishing and soothing ingredients that brands add to exfoliants always interest me. Vitamin E and aloe are pretty standard but Murad surprised me with their new Resurgence Replenishing Multi-Acid Peel, €55, which contains jojoba, turmeric and hyaluronic acid. It increases skin cell turnover by as much as 33% over the course of a week.
A fragrance-free Vitamin C or retinol product can also help to boost skin cell turnover.
Retinol can be drying but a plan oil rich Vitamin C product like Dermalogica Building Reserves Dry skin loves fat, it really does, and antioxidant plant and fats are so good at binding moisture to the surface of the face, keeping it plump and dewy. Nourishing, non- fragrant plant oils like jojoba, rose-hip, and sunflower can work wonders for scaly dry skin.
Be sure to remember the look for between soothing plant oils rather than fragrant essential oils like lavender and mint, which can be sensitising, irritating, and drying.
Finnish skincare brand Lumene does a colourful Nordic C Arctic Berry Oil-Cocktail, €35.88 at feelunique.com, that is both comforting to use (cranberry and arctic cloud berry oils feel terrific) and a fabulous, glow-inducing gift.
Omega fatty acids are also fantastic hydrators for dry, flaky skin, whether you consumer or apply them. They have a tremendous ability to calm and soothe sensitivity and to reinforce skin’s surface.
Going a little deeper, Paula’s Choice’s new Water-Infusing Electrolyte Moisturiser, €38 at paulaschoice.co.uk, contains the electrolytes calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
These are are linked with skin-identical PCA (pyrrolidone carboxylic acid, part of skin’s natural moisturising factor), allowing them to work within skin’s water channels (aquaporins) to deliver vital hydrators like glycerin and ceramides.
I can’t advocate building skin up without mentioning ceramides. These fats naturally comprise over half of skin’s surface. One of their main functions is to prevent moisture loss, so —like hyaluronic acid — they’re virtually essential skincare ingredients when it comes to alleviating dry skin.
Ceramides smooth and revive surface skin cells no matter how dry you’ve been feeling.
The Inkey List Ceramide Night Treatment, €17.99 at feelunique.com, is a 3% blend of these wonderful fats that works overnight at various levels of the skin. It is also formulated with a 2.5% multi-molecular hyaluronic acid, giving skin and instant shot of smoothing, comforting hydration. If you buy just one moisture-protective product this season…