Skin Nerd: A moisture masterclass for dry skin this winter

Going through a dry spell? Find relief with skincare’s most nourishing ingredients
Skin Nerd: A moisture masterclass for dry skin this winter

Even though the overriding theme is cold, you often need more than just a warmup to solve your winter skincare dilemma.

Ah, winter — a time when the weather becomes the epicenter of your daily plans and a major factor in all decision-making. As much as the topic can become tiresome, it is beneficial to put thought into adapting your skincare regime at a time when the weather calls the shots.

Dryness and irritation

To avoid dry, irritated skin in the colder seasons, you should ensure that you include nourishing ingredients in your routine. For a triple threat against harsh wintry climes look for products containing hyaluronic acid, ceramides and glycerine.

Ceramides are lipids (fat molecules) that occur naturally in the skin. As we age, our ceramide levels become depleted which can weaken the skin barrier and make it more vulnerable to external aggressors. This can also lead to irritation, dryness and discomfort. One remedy for this is the topical application of ceramides, which can bring comfort to tight-feeling skin and strengthen the barrier. Glycerine and hyaluronic acid are both humectants which quench thirsty skin by attracting moisture to the skin and boosting the resilience of the skin barrier.

You can also top up your hydration levels throughout the day using a spritz. I like Pestle & Mortar Balance Facial Spritz which contains skin-pacifying magnesium to soothe weather beaten skin.

  • DO: opt for a rich, creamy daily cleanser that includes acids such as lactic or glycolic acid and fats. Dry skins can also use washes, but creams may be more comfortable (as it is the ingredients that matter not texture.) Medik8 Lipid Balance Cleansing Oil contains Omega 6 and Safflower Oil to gently but thoroughly remove makeup and pollution without leaving the skin feeling tight.
  • DON’T: over-exfoliate — It can be tempting when your skin is looking dull but over exfoliation can damage the skin barrier, leading to redness, sensitisation and increasing transepidermal water loss (TEWL). To minimise the risk of this, avoid exfoliating more than 2-3 evenings a week and choose exfoliating acids over gritty scrubs as these are more barrier friendly.


Even though the overriding theme is cold, you often need more than just a warmup to solve your winter skincare dilemma. Picture the scene.

A bracingly frosty morning that leaves you with rosy-pink cheeks as you battle your way through the morning traffic to spend your first 15 minutes unwrapping yourself like a hooman pass the parcel before finally sit down at your desk with a steaming cup of coffee to warm you up. Sounds nice right? However, when you pass a mirror at around midday, you notice your face is still looking flushed — but this time it is more of a sore, angry looking rouge that leaves you questioning why your face doesn’t seem to have caught up with the rest of your body in acclimatising to the indoors temperature. On further inspection, your lips feel dry, and you notice your fine lines appear more prominent. Here we have a classic case of ‘radiator face.’

Extreme temperatures are the norm at this time of the year but are not good for our skin — especially if we are coming out of warm environments into cold spaces. Research has revealed that low humidity on the skin and low temperatures can decrease our skin’s barrier function. This barrier is crucial to our skin health as it works to lock in hydration and provide protection from external stressors.

The effects of radiators on our skin are sometimes called “radiator face” and therefore, it makes sense that as we move further into winter more people tend to experience redness and irritation! Rather than relying on one product for all of our moisturising needs, there should be hydrating elements spread across our regime so that the nourishing effects are accumulative. Humectants (water-retaining substances) such as hyaluronic acid can be even more effective when paired with vitamin A as they work together to improve the level to which our skin retains hydration.

Top this moisture mix off with a ceramide-based hydrator such as Skingredients Good Fats Ultra-Hydrating Ceramide Moisturiser (€55.00, to lock in the goodness of all of the other products.

  • TIP: Applying products to damp skin increases permeability of products slightly more than applying them to wet skin. Studies have shown that the skin can become more accessible to hydrophilic molecules (ie. Molecules attracted to water such as hyaluronic acid) when it has had time to absorb water into the stratum corneum.

Nerdie Knowledge

What are emolients?

Like your cosiest winter coat, emollients provide a barrier between your skin and external elements, helping to reduce incidences of flaking, dryness, and irritation. Moisturising agents, occlusive emollients retain moisture by creating a barrier on the skin’s surface that stops water loss, whilst humectant emollients attract and retain moisture in the skin’s upper layers. You will often find emollients in rich products intended to repair dry skin and can also use emollients to calm the effects of eczema and psoriasis.

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