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Ask The Expert: what your skin needs in winter


By Holly O'Neill
29th Jan 2019
Ask The Expert: what your skin needs in winter

As we come into the winter months, it’s time to switch up our skincare routines. What does that mean? What happens to our skin in cold weather?

Dylan Griffiths is the medical manager for Eucerin. You’ve probably seen Eucerin in Boots. It’s not the sexiest packaging on the shelves, but it doesn’t need to be, because their products are highly effective.

Last winter, I received Eucerin products for the first time. My upper arms at the time were ravaged with patchy, dry, itchy, scaly skin. I’d had a little of this already, it happened to me every winter, but it worsened while I was trialling a shower gel that was very fragranced. Eucerin luckily landed on the beauty desk that week and two days later, my skin was healed.

This winter, I’m not letting patchy upper arms ruin my tan or keep me from going sleeveless, so I jumped at the opportunity to speak to Dylan about how to keep skin hydrated through the damaging effects of cold winds mixed with heavy indoor heating.

What happens to our skin in winter?
During winter, strong winds and low moisture levels in the air combined with sudden and extreme temperature changes means our skin is constantly trying to adapt to changing conditions. Such changeable weather can increase moisture loss from the skin leaving it feeling dry, irritated and sometimes itchy. Those that already suffer with dry skin and eczema may find their symptoms are worsened during the winter months.

What does our skin need in colder weather?
Dry skin is caused by decreased levels of natural moisturising factors such as Urea in the skin. From when we all wake up in the morning to the afternoon, 50% of the body’s Urea will have naturally depleted. The body needs to constantly keep producing it, and those with dry skin don’t produce enough. About 30 years ago, Eucerin examined naturally produced Urea and synthesised it, creating the first topical product containing a natural moisturising factor – Eucerin Intensive Lotion 10% with UREA Cutaneous Emulsion. Because Urea is naturally found in the body, the skin will absorb it effectively and use it for the right purpose. Apply the lotion twice a day.

Eucerin Intensive Lotion 10% with UREA Cutaneous Emulsion, €13.49 

My skin is already ravaged by the cold weather and feeling dry. What do I need? How do I prevent this from happening in future?
If you’re already suffering from dry skin, it is important to replenish moisture and calm dry skin. I would suggest using an emollient that would add moisture and lipids back into the skin. If you suffer from a dry skin condition such as eczema, emollients are great for relieving symptoms and calming irritated skin.

In winter, we want to take long, hot showers after cold days. Are hot showers having an adverse effect on our skin?
There is nothing better than a hot shower on a cold day but unfortunately, very hot showers can dry out and irritate the skin. Have warm showers instead and reduce the time spent in hot water. Take care when cleansing dry body skin by choosing a gentle body wash that does not strip the skin’s natural lipids, avoid using scented products and scrubbing the skin.

Are there any supplements we need to take to help our skin from the inside?
When managing dry skin conditions, it is important to care for the skin from the inside and out. Dry skin is caused by a lack of lipids in the skin. Omega supplements contain essential fatty acids that help to replace the lipids lost and strengthen the skin’s natural barrier. Of course, I would always recommend a healthy diet alongside your skincare regime, so add foods that contain essential fatty acids to your diet such as fish, nuts and seeds.

OmegaBrite Advanced Omega-3 Formula, €32.99 (for the 60 capsule pack), available in pharmacies 

Should we exfoliate more in winter?
While you should be exfoliating regularly during winter, if you have dry skin you should be careful not to over exfoliate as this will strip the skin of its natural oils. It is crucial to ensure that your skin is properly moisturised before you start exfoliating. You should avoid exfoliating already flaking skin, so if you are experiencing flaking skin consider cutting back on the exfoliation and focusing on moisturising.

REN AHA Smart Renewal Body Serum, €39

What about at night time? Should we use a heavier moisturiser at night?
Your skin naturally repairs itself of damage while you sleep. As these healing processes are taking place at a fast rate so too can the skin dry out quickly. As a result, sometimes your skin can feel driest in the morning and quite tight. If you find when you wake up that your skin is very dry, consider using a heavier moisturiser at night time.

Featured image by @the.irving.penn.foundation.