Flaky and Dry skin in winter is a common problem for many people. The cold air outside and the dry heat inside can strip your skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness and irritation. “88% of people experience dry skin in the winter months.” According to a survey by the AAD.
This guide will discuss the reasons behind skin dryness in winter and how to keep your skin moisturized during weather changes.
The Science Behind Dry Skin in Winter
The skin’s outermost layer of the epidermis, called the stratum corneum, is made up of dead skin cells and a layer of lipids. These lipids act as a barrier, preventing moisture loss from the skin. During the winter months, the air becomes colder and drier. This means that the relative humidity of the air decreases, which leads to a decrease in the amount of water vapor in the air. When the air is dry, it can draw moisture from the skin, leading to skin dehydration.
Furthermore, the skin’s natural moisturizing factors (NMFs) which include amino acids, urea, and lactic acid, can become depleted in cold weather due to the use of indoor heating systems. These heating systems can reduce the humidity levels in the air, leading to increased transepidermal water loss (TEWL) from the skin.
If you are wondering what is the TEWL it’s the process by which water moves from inside the body, through the skin, and into the surrounding environment.
Esther Olu, Skin & Beauty Cosmetic Chemist, tweeted “Okay SO you’ll see in cosmetic journals or articles about water loss. So what the heck is it. TEWL also stand’s for transepidermal water loss! It’s when water in your dermis goes through all of your epidermis and evaporates off the surface of your skin! IT IS SUPER IMPORTANT” as an answer of “what is TEWL”. Olu added the below illustrative image:
Additionally, cold weather can lead to a decrease in blood flow to the skin, which can reduce the number of nutrients and water that reach the skin. This decrease in blood flow can also result in a reduction of sebum production, which further contributes to skin dehydration.
Poor Skincare Habits that Contribute to Dry Skin in Winter
- Overwashing: Washing the face too frequently or using harsh soaps can strip the skin of its natural oils and disrupt the skin’s barrier function. A study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science found that over-washing can lead to skin dryness, irritation, and even inflammation.
- Using hot water: Hot water can also strip the skin of its natural oils and lead to dryness. A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found that exposing the skin to hot water can cause skin barrier dysfunction, which can lead to dry skin.
- Skipping moisturizer: Moisturizer helps to hydrate the skin and prevent water loss dry air can lead to skin dehydration. Using a humidifier can help to add moisture to the air and prevent water loss from the skin, and can help to improve skin hydration and prevent dryness.
- Neglecting sun protection: UV radiation from the sun can damage the skin and lead to dryness. A study published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology found that using sunscreen can help to protect the skin from UV damage and prevent dryness.
- Bringing the skin closer to indoor heating: Heating systems used indoors during the winter months can also contribute to dry skin. These systems can reduce the humidity levels in the air and cause the skin to lose moisture.
The Negative Effects of Neglecting Dry Skin in Winter
- Itching, Irritation, & hyperpigmentation: Dry skin can also lead to itching and irritation, which can be uncomfortable and may lead to further damage to the skin. Scratching dry skin can cause micro-tears on the skin’s surface, further compromising the skin barrier and leaving obvious hyperpigmentation.
- Inflammation: Chronic dryness can also lead to inflammation, which can further damage the skin barrier and lead to a range of negative effects, including redness, swelling, and increased sensitivity.
- Accelerated Aging: Over time, chronic dryness can accelerate the aging process, leading to the development of fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging. Dry skin lacks the natural elasticity and suppleness of healthy skin, making it more prone to developing wrinkles and other signs of aging.
Tips and Tricks For Keeping Your Skin Moisturized And Healthy During The Winter
Ignoring your dry skin in winter was one of Jennifer Aniston’s regrets. Aniston said: “I’ve learned the hard way that ignoring dry skin in the winter only leads to more problems, so I take a preventative approach and moisturize daily.”. So what about you?
In order not to regret, below are our best tips to keep moisturized skin in winter:
- Use a gentle cleanser
The first step in any skincare routine is to cleanse your skin. However, during the winter months, it’s important to use a gentle cleanser that won’t strip your skin of its natural oils. Look for a cleanser that is free of harsh chemicals and fragrances that can irritate the skin.
See Dermaliscio Safe Cleansers
- Exfoliate Regularly
Exfoliation is an essential step in any skincare routine, but it’s especially important during the winter months. Dead skin cells can build up on the surface of your skin, preventing moisturizers from penetrating the skin. By exfoliating regularly, you can remove these dead skin cells and allow your moisturizer to work more effectively.
- Use a Thick Moisturizer
During the winter months, it’s important to switch to a thicker, more hydrating moisturizer. Look for a moisturizer that contains ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and ceramides, which can help to attract and retain moisture in the skin.
- Apply Moisturizer While the Skin is Still Damp
After showering or washing your face, pat your skin dry with a towel and immediately apply your moisturizer. This will help to lock in moisture and prevent your skin from becoming dry and itchy.
- Drink Plenty of Water
Staying hydrated is essential for maintaining healthy skin. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your skin moisturized from the inside out.
- Avoid Frequent Hot Showers
While it may be tempting to take a hot shower on a cold winter day, hot water can actually strip your skin of its natural oils. Instead, take a lukewarm shower and limit your time in the water to no more than 10 minutes.
How Can Sunscreen Protect the Dry Skin?
Sunscreen can help to retain moisture in the skin: Some sunscreens contain moisturizing ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin, which can help to hydrate and retain moisture in the skin. This can help to prevent your skin from becoming dry and flaky during the winter months.
Sunscreen can prevent windburn: When the wind is blowing, it can cause the skin to become dry and chapped. Sunscreen acts as a protective barrier against the wind and can help to prevent windburn, which can further contribute to dryness.
Sunscreen can reduce the effects of indoor heating: Indoor heating systems can also contribute to dry skin in the winter months. By using sunscreen, you can help to reduce the effects of indoor heating on your skin and prevent it from becoming dry and dehydrated.
- Features a high sun protection factor (SPF) of 50+.
- Free of Fragrance, alcohol, artificial colors, and Paraben.
- Does not leave irritating white marks on the skin.
- Contains chemical and physical filters that ensure high protection from the sun’s rays.
- Non-greasy, easy to apply, and waterproof.
Keeping your skin moisturized in the winter is essential for maintaining healthy, glowing skin. By knowing how the cold weather affects your skin and starting a suitable skincare routine in winter, you can prevent dryness and irritation and keep your skin hydrated all winter long. Remember to stay hydrated, protect your skin from the cold, dry air, and use a moisturizer that is specifically formulated for dry skin.
Weather changes don’t affect your skin only, it affects your hair too. For more information, read our: Do Extreme Weather Changes Affect Hair Health?