Winter Skincare: Four changes to make for your skin
Why winter skincare is important
As the days get shorter and colder, you might have noticed that your regular skincare regimen is no longer cutting it. Suddenly, skin feels drier and perhaps tight or itchy in patches. Sound familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not imagining it! Changes in the weather have big impacts on our complexions, but a few tweaks is all that’s needed to get it back on track once again. This is when you should consider a winter skincare routine to help combat the changing weather.
In Australia, it’s unusual to get very extreme levels of cold like that of the northern hemisphere. But we do commonly experience in winter is a drop in relative humidity. Relative humidity (RH) measures how much water is in the air. 1 When it feels “muggy” outside during summer, it usually means the level of relative humidity is high.
You can check the average RH in your area by using an interactive map from the Bureau of Meteorology. At different months and various times of day (9am versus 3pm) there are much lower RH levels. This is frequent during winter months of June to August, particularly later in the day and in areas away from the coast. For many of us, this is exacerbated by indoor heating, which further dries out the air in our homes and offices.
So what does relative humidity have to do with your skin? Unfortunately, when heating is cranked up inside, your skin becomes tight and itchy, while your eyes become dry and irritated. Studies show that symptoms of dry skin increase in environments where the humidity levels are low. This includes rough skin texture and loss of elasticity.2 Additionally, in low humidity, skin becomes more easily irritated by allergens and flare-ups. Eczema and dermatitis can become more common. 1
Fortunately, these skin concerns can be kept in check with some simple switches to your skincare – and your lifestyle…
1. Switch your moisturiser
Lightweight or oil-free moisturiser work well during summer but aren’t hydrating enough in winter. For a winter skincare regimen, switch to a richer formula – QV Face Nurturing Night Cream – enriched with safflower oil to help replenish moisture lost.
2. Add gentle exfoliation
A drop in relative humidity isn’t just a trigger for dry, tight skin. Periods of cold weather with low humidity may cause a thickening of the skin’s outer layer, the stratum corneum. 3 Research suggests that low humidity can slow down the speed at which skin cells turn over. This is a process known as desquamation. 2 where old or dead cells cling to the skin’s surface for longer.
This can can cause the complexion to look dull or become congested. Gentle exfoliation helps to speed up the cells’ turnover once again. This can be done either with a physical exfoliant, such as QV Face Exfoliating Polish, or with a product containing chemical exfoliants like alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), including Elucent Anti-Ageing Serum. Both forms release the old skin cells, but it’s important not to be too gung-ho about exfoliating. In winter, or if your skin is feeling more delicate than normal, then take it slowly and build up the frequency as you need to.
3. Change your environment
Modifying your winter skincare regimen is one thing, but lifestyle tweaks can also help your complexion in winter. And no, we’re not talking about booking a trip to Thailand!
At home, try to avoid cranking up the indoor heating to high. Adding some moisture back into the air by placing a bowl of water in front of your heating unit is ideal. Top up the water as it evaporates. Long, hot showers can also exacerbate dry skin and itchiness – it’s better to keep them short and the temperature warm rather than hot.
4. The one change not to make
If you’re switching up your skincare this winter, one product should remain a constant: sunscreen.
In Australia, UV levels rise every year and the increase faster in winter than in summer! Therefore it’s important to keep skin protected all year round. 5 Sunscreen becomes even more essential for winter skincare if you’re holidaying at the snow, as you’re hit with both the direct UV and rays that are reflected off the snow. Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF, such as SunSense Sport SPF 50+, and be sure to re-apply it every two hours when you’re outside or hitting the slopes.
1. Engebretsen KA, Johansen JD, Kezic S, Linneberg A, Thyssen JP. The effect of environmental humidity and temperature on skin barrier function and dermatitis. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2016;30(2):223-49.
2. Goad N, Gawkrodger DJ. Ambient humidity and the skin: the impact of air humidity in healthy and diseased states. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 2016;30(8):1285-94.
3. Boutrand LB, Thépot A, Muther C, Boher A, Robic J, Guéré C, Vié K, Damour O, Lamartine J. Repeated short climatic change affects the epidermal differentiation program and leads to matrix remodeling in a human organotypic skin model.Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2017;10:43-50.
4. Hamann ID. Pruritus: understanding the causes, soothing the itch. Medicine Today 2017;18(8):30–8.
5. Lemus-Deschamps L, Makin JK. Fifty years of changes in UV Index and implications for skin cancer in Australia. Int J Biometeorol. 2012;56(4):727-35.
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