Winter Skin

Young man looks at himself in mirror and applying cream on face
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Health 2000’s Stu Cook writes on the best ways to take care of your skin during the winter months.

Throughout the year our skin is ill-treated in so many different ways that it’s hard to know where to begin. From the harsh sun in the summer months, to the biting cold in winter, each takes its toll, and without the right care our skin can end up making us look much older than we actually are. Conversely, when we have a great care routine and look after our skin both internally and externally, we can stay looking younger for much longer.

A reader recently wrote to me and asked about winter skin routines; what should they be aware of and what can they do about it? My first response is to always carry moisturiser. Even the rough, tough guys who pride themselves on being the manliest of men should moisturise. After all, who wants to be intimate with someone with rough hands, or kiss chapped lips?

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There are many aspects to caring for your skin that you need to consider, so here are a few of the challenges we face on a day-to-day basis:

Air Conditioning/Heating – Our first response to the colder weather is to put the heater on, and for those of you in apartments or office blocks, modern homes or revamped homes, the likelihood is that you have a heat pump/air conditioning unit. These wonderful inventions are great for heating our home, but not so great for skin. The circulating air can reduce the effectiveness of the body’s natural moisturising mechanisms such as oil production, and lead to dried-out skin.

Harsh Wind – We all know the days we mean, the wind howling between the buildings or over the hills, and we try to wrap ourselves in as many layers as we can fit into. The wind blasting onto our face is very effective at drying our skin out and, once again, stopping our skin for naturally hydrating. The colder the air the more it can dry the skin. We also see in bitterly cold weather that our skin turns the rosy shade of pink as the body works to try and raise the temperature of the skin, and this can also lead to drying out, and wrinkles!

Hot Water – The best thing on a cold day is to hop into a hot shower and spend 20 minutes letting the heat soak through, however, as good as this may feel, we actually do more harm then good to our skin. While your skin is made of three layers, hot showers affect the outermost layer – the epidermis, made up of skin cells and oils. The heat from the shower makes the skin’s oils soften, and soap will strip away the skin’s oil barrier in no time. This isn’t an altogether bad thing; that same oil barrier traps dirt and sweat, which leads to body odour. Still, without those oils, the moisture in your skin easily escapes, leading to dry, itchy skin. The longer and hotter the shower, the faster this process takes place and the more moisture you’re likely to lose.

Rain – We have all had it happen to us either walking to work or popping out for lunch, and the rain pours down. We are drenched! We get to, or back to work, and we sit there for the rest of the day in slightly damp clothes. It’s not nice, but sometimes it just happens! These damp clothes, resting against the skin, can lead to skin irritations such as eczema.

But the good news is that even though there seem to be challenges for our skin at the turn of every corner, we can combat most of them with a simple, regular skin care routine. A simple moisturiser tucked away in your desk draw, man bag, bathroom vanity, or anywhere that is easily accessible and regularly visited can help to ward off the dry skin of winter!

 Article | Stu Cook

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