The skin has a lot to cope with in the colder months. Bracing winds and constantly changing temperatures as you go in and out of toasty, centrally-heated buildings prove a challenge for your skin’s barrier, and whilst it does its best to keep your skin protected from the elements, low temperatures and increased transepidermal water loss can leave our complexions looking more than a little lacklustre.
Lack of radiance and dullness are common winter skin problems, in part due to a lack of Vitamin D - a fat-soluble vitamin that human bodies produce when the skin is exposed to the sun. This ‘sunshine vitamin’ is essential for that healthy, energised glow pretty much everyone wants to covet but during our dull winters this in limited supply due to shorter daylight hours and more time spent indoors. The chilly temperatures can also make skin appear flat as blood tends to stagnate, which is also what makes under-eye circles darker in winter too!
With the festive season around the corner and the wintry weather likely to be sticking around for some time ahead, here are some simple ways to perk up winter skin.
My skincare philosophy takes an ‘inside, outside and on-top' approach to maintaining healthy skin. Whilst there are no substitutes for a healthy, balanced diet, nutritional supplements are a wonderful way to complement a healthy lifestyle and top up any nutrients you may be lacking. Look out for supplements that contain omegas, which act as your skin’s internal moisturisers, hyaluronic acid, which helps to hydrate and keep the skin plump, and vitamin A, which helps to boost skin health and repair DNA damage.
Grey toned skin is often a sign of dehydration, with a diminished water supply in the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin) known to cause dullness, rough-textured skin, and a lack of plumpness. Exposure to environmental aggressors such as extreme weather conditions can weaken the skin barrier and make it more permeable. A compromised skin barrier leads to additional moisture loss which equals further dehydration. It’ll also let external aggressors enter more easily which could mean further irritation and sensitivity for the skin.
Restore skin back to peak suppleness by using skin care that repairs the skin barrier and replenishes any lost moisture. Look for products containing hyaluronic acid and ceramides, such as Skingredients Skin Good Fats, a ceramide barrier balm that reduces irritation and replenishes your skin's essential fats and vitamins for softer, more supple skin.
Ingredients that brighten the appearance of the skin work by evening out the skin tone and correcting areas of discolouration. Vitamin C is renowned for being a potent brightener and works by inhibiting tyrosinase, a pigment creating enzyme. Niacinamide is another brightening ingredient that plays an important role in active skincare. Also look out for liquorice root extract, which is another pigment synthesis inhibitor and is a super soothing and brightening ingredient.
Massaging your skin promotes increased blood circulation, which encourages healthy, plump and radiant skin. For a glow-boosting treat, use massage as part of your cleansing regime. A facial roller can aid at home massage by reducing any puffiness, releasing tension, and further boosting circulation, resulting in a visibly refreshed look.
Give your skin a helping hand to get rid of the dead skin cells that are dulling your skin by using an exfoliant regularly. I advise using a chemical exfoliant – like an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) – over exfoliants that contain scrubs or grit, which can be harsh on the skin. Glycolic acid and lactic acid are alpha-hydroxy acids and work by dissolving the “glue” that keeps dead skin cells attached to the surface of the skin to reveal a brighter complexion. Lactic acid is great for reactive skin because it has a larger molecular size compared to glycolic acid – meaning it’s gentler on the skin. Take care to avoid overuse, as this can result in a compromised skin barrier. I recommend using AHAs on alternate nights for optimal skin health.
IMAGE’s Vital C Hydrating Enzyme Masque (€44.50, theskinnerd.com) is a must-have for achieving a lit-from-within glow. Packed with vitamin C, this treatment not only fights free radicals but it also takes a multipurpose enzymatic approach, which I rate highly as enzymes are respectful to the skin in terms of their exfoliating action. Use as a standalone treatment, or use alongside other masks to achieve your specific skin goals.