by Laura Kay
Part I: Skin Care Tips for Dry, Dehydrated Skin
Cold, winter weather is slowly beginning to move into Ontario – this means fireplaces, hot cider,
snow days, Christmas, and warm mittens – oh, I could go on forever about my favourite season!
Although I am one of very few who truly enjoy getting outdoors and enjoying the refreshing
winter air, many of us hibernate indoors for the season with the furnace cranked up high. Our
beloved fireplaces and furnaces may keep us cozy during harsh Canadian winters, but the dry
environment they create can wreak havoc on the moisture balance of our skin, leaving it
dehydrated, lackluster, dull, and in need of some TLC.
When we wake up and before we go to bed, it is very important to cleanse our skin. Switching
to a cream cleanser instead of a gel-based foam cleanser during the wintertime can preserve
the skin’s moisture barrier. Foaming gel cleansers can sometimes strip the skin of it’s natural
oils, making it subject to excessive dryness and dehydration. Cream based cleansers still
effectively remove makeup and other debris from the skin’s surface, while rehydrating it and
giving it a supple texture. If your skin tends to become very dry in the wintertime, use cleanser
with a more creamy texture that does not produce a soapy foam.
It is also important to follow up cleansing with a gentle, alcohol-free toner. In my practice as a
skincare specialist, I hear time and time again, “toner dries out my skin!” or “what’s the point of
toner? My cleanser removes all my makeup!”. Toner should be neither drying to the skin, nor
used to remove remnants of makeup that your cleanser didn’t get off. Toner is meant to restore
the skin’s pH level, creating a balance that can protect the skin from irritation, environmental
damage, and reactivity. Skipping this important step can interfere with the delicate balance of
the skin, leaving it vulnerable. This is especially true during times of extreme weather, when the
skin is more affected by the environment. Look for a toner with calming, nourishing ingredients,
like cucumber and vitamin E, and ensure that the label indicates that it is alcohol free. If you
have a truly dry skin type, avoid astringents or acne-geared toners during the winter season,
and stick with a more gentle formulation suitable for sensitive skins.
Your morning routine should always end with the application of a sunscreen – yes, even during
the winter months. Even if it’s a freezing cold, blustery day, with little to no sunlight. Invisible
ultraviolet rays from the sun will still penetrate the clouds and reach the ground during the colder
months, so wearing a broad spectrum SPF during this time of year is equally as important as
during summer. Snow and ice on the ground reflects ultraviolet light onto uncovered skin,
putting you at risk for sunburns, photodamage, and skin cancer. A moisturizing day cream with a
minimum of 30 SPF is ideal for wintertime, and always make sure that the label on the bottle
indicates that it is a broad spectrum sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection.
Before bed, after a day of exposing your skin to harsh cold winds, your skin may feel irritated,
tight, and parched. Ingredients like shea butter and jojoba oil can help to repair and nourish
excessively dry skin, even in cases of stubborn eczema. Jojoba oil is molecularly similar to
sebum, the naturally occurring oil of the skin. The skin readily absorbs it and uses it to
rehydrate and repair the skin – it is an all-star skin ingredient, especially in the colder months
when the skin is typically in need of a little extra nourishment.
During the winter, our skin can have a tendency to become very flaky and rough, with areas of
built up, dehydrated skin cells. Moisturizers and other skin care products do not absorb into the
skin completely in these areas, and therefore cannot evenly rehydrate and moisturize the skin.
Gentle exfoliation using a creamy formulation containing spherical, soft exfoliating beads will
help to remove these areas of buildup. Very abrasive formulations with ground nut shells or
other jagged particles can be too rough on the skin and actually make certain skin conditions
much worse. A softer exfoliating cream will effectively remove flaky, dull skin, and allow for
nourishing moisturizers to absorb into the skin, thoroughly hydrating it from within. Try to do this
just once or twice a week to avoid over-exfoliation and stripping of the skin’s natural oils.
Topping freshly exfoliated skin with a creamy mask containing hyaluronic acid will bind moisture
to the skin and lock it in, refreshing your complexion and giving it a dewy, youthful glow!
Caring for your skin during times of extreme weather will prevent damage that can lead to
premature aging, fine lines, wrinkles, and blemishes. A hydrating skin care routine will also help
to create a beautiful canvas for makeup application – and who doesn’t want a flawless, glowing
complexion for all those holiday parties? Stay tuned for Part II of this mini-series, makeup tips
for a luminous, radiant complexion!