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Essential Winter Skincare Tips from A Holistic Esthetician

Jan 31, 2022 ● By Paulina Iannotta
A woman washing her face

By fizkes for Adobe Stock

During winter, our skin is exposed to cold gusts of wind, snow and low temperatures. That is why many people struggle with dryness, roughness or redness of the skin on the face. As we enter February in the Midwest, most people are really struggling by now with keeping their skin hydrated. Dry, flaky, cracked skin means an impaired skin barrier and less ability to protect itself. It’s crucial to work on strengthening the natural hydro-lipid barrier to keep the skin strong to withstand the harsh environment. Avoiding harsh products and treatments in winter time is essential.
Start with the cleanser: Cleansing is the most important step in our skincare routine. To avoid stripping the natural moisture barrier and dehydrating skin even more, switch to a creamy, calming formula like cleansing milk or balm. Avoid formulations with alcohol and fragrances, as they can irritate skin even more.
Skip hot showers: A hot shower on a cold morning might feel like a great idea, but it can actually throw off a delicate balance. To avoid dryness and irritations, opt for lukewarm water, and if brave enough, finish the shower with some cold water to boost circulation and immunity.
Go for lipids: To retain water in the epidermis, the skin’s lipid layer must remain intact. Any damage to lipids or the consumption of unsuitable fats affects the skin and weakens its barrier functions. A damaged barrier makes the skin more irritated and prone to infection. Of course, the loss of water from the epidermis also increases, which leads to dryness, itching and lack of firmness. The most valuable lipids for the skin are those identical to epidermal lipids—ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids. Look for creams with those ingredients and avoid water-based formulas that can freeze on the skin and cause broken capillaries.
Diet matters: Take care of diet and adequate fluid intake. To improve the condition of the skin, it is worth increasing the amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the diet found, among others, in fish, walnuts, avocados, linseed and chia. Also, do not forget about the right amount of fluids. A dehydrated body doesn’t tolerate cold well, and it certainly does not help the skin. Remember, it is better to drink less fluid more often than not to drink for hours and consume a big glass of water all at once. Or instead of water, switch to winter teas (such as warming teas with cinnamon and orange) and herbal infusions. For a boost of immunity, be sure to try out golden milk with turmeric.
Invest in a humidifier: The air in the environment where we spend the most time is crucial for the health of our skin. Dry air will suck all the moisture out like a vampire. Having an air humidifier at night by the bedside will replenish the moisture in the air and fight the drying effects of heating on the skin, reduce dryness and skin irritations.
Exfoliate: Exfoliation is important, but most people overdo it. Reduce exfoliation to about once a week and choose an enzyme-based exfoliator over abrasive scrubs and peels. Grainy formulations can cause microscopic tears in the skin, leading to “leaky roof” of the skin. Exfoliation should be done at night, not in the morning, because freshly exfoliated skin exposed to harsh winter weather can be vulnerable, and will result in irritated skin.
Apply SPF: Just because the sun is hiding behind the clouds doesn’t mean we are not exposed to harmful ultraviolet aging rays (UVA). On a sunny day, snow can reflect up to 90 percent of UV rays, which means that we can be exposed to almost a double dose of radiation. So when taking that furry baby for a walk, make sure to apply moisturizer with SPF 30.

Paulina Iannotta, a holistic licensed esthetician since 2010, is the founder and owner of Holistic Skin Expert, in Naperville.