Now that we’re several months into the fluctuating temps of this unusual winter (global warming, anyone?), the season is starting to take a visible toll on our skin. You know the deal: flaky, parched areas; red, irritated spots; and even cracked, scaly patches.
But, seriously, what makes our skin become so dry in the winter in the first place? We tapped Rachel Winard, founder of Brooklyn-based vegan beauty line Soapwalla, to find out. “Cold, arid, windy temps outside, combined with blasting heat indoors, wreak havoc on our skin,” Winard says. “Add in constrictive moisture-wicking clothing, those luxuriously steamy showers, and sitting by a crackling fire, and the situation is compounded.”
Yikes — it makes a whole lot of sense. But the good thing is, Winard says that we’re not in this alone. Almost everyone suffers from some sort of dryness in the harsh winter months.
“It’s common for skin to change throughout the year,” Winard says. “What works for you in the summertime is not necessarily what your body needs in the winter. In addition, sleep patterns, stress, hormones, and diet (all heightened during and right after the holiday season) play crucial roles in issues that are manifested in the skin. Some people weather the cold (pun intended) better than others, but I’ve found that nearly everyone has to alter their skincare routine somewhat during the most intense weeks of winter.”
How do I treat my already-dry skin?
If your skin is already feeling like Death Valley, you might need to switch up your routine a bit, although Winard suggests doing this as early in the season as possible.
“I recommend switching cleansers to something with less lather and more moisturizing content, as well as a hydrating toning mist,” she says. “I also HIGHLY recommend layering your moisturizer. For the face, I recommend starting with a few drops of a restorative serum, followed by our Concentrated Repair Balm (paying close attention to the under eye area, cheeks, nose, and lips). Before you leave the house, apply a good quality SPF — you need it just as much in the winter as in the summertime.”
A great skin balm (like Soapwalla’s) has a high concentration of amino acids, “which stimulate collagen production to promote faster cell turnover, as well as vitamins E and K, which increase skin elasticity,” Winard says. Her formula also contains moringa and prickly pear seed oils, some of nature’s most potent providers of omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids.
As for your body: “I recommend dry brushing before stepping into a warm (not scalding hot) shower two to three times a week, followed by a good quality body exfoliation,” Winard says. “When you get out of the shower, don’t completely dry off. Apply a body oil to slightly damp skin to ensure it completely penetrates and deeply moisturizes. Layer some more balm on those places that need attention (ears, cuticles, elbows, knees, feet).
“Fatty acids are crucial in order to maintain healthy skin and to allow more moisture to penetrate the skin barrier,” Winard says. Soapwalla’s body oil contains mowrah butter along with echium, chia, and baobab seed oils — all natural products with super high levels of fatty acids.
What other ways can you keep skin hydrated without products?
Unsurprisingly, Winard’s number-one suggestion is upping your water intake. “Set a reminder in your phone, drink a cup each hour, whatever it is that works for you,” she says. “That will help you maintain proper hydration, which you’ll see and feel immediately.”
And don’t forget about that dry winter air — a good-quality humidifier can work wonders.
Finally, don’t forget to keep your skin well-guarded from harsh elements like frigid temps, stinging winds, and icy rain. “I can’t recommend strongly enough using physical barriers — hats, sunglasses, scarf pulled up around your cheeks and nose — to protect against frigidity and wind-chapping,” Winard says.
With a new skincare routine and a renewed effort to keep your body extra hydrated, you’ll be kissing your winter skin problems goodbye in no time.