FROSTY air, toasty houses and turbulent weather – our skin gets a tough ride during winter.
According to our Instagram Fabulous poll, it is not surprising that 74% of us have already developed skin issues from head to foot.
Along with the annual common concerns – dry skin to weathered hands – many of you are battling other issues, with 67 per cent reporting body acne, otherwise known as backne or buttne.
For the ultimate guide to handling winter skincare, SIOBHAN O’CONNOR speaks to industry experts who share their tips and advice.
Vaseline can’t fix chapped lips
Q) The outline of my lips looks red, chapped and sore. I’ve been smothering on Vaseline daily, which helps a little, but how can I get rid of it completely?
Helen, Bedlington, Northumb
A) In winter, our lips are more dry than usual because of the low humidity.
Beauty writer Katie Onyejekwe says: “Lips are predisposed to dryness as they don’t have sebaceous glands – responsible for secreting your skin’s natural oils – to keep them moisturised.
“Vaseline feels good temporarily as it’s great at forming a protective barrier over the skin to stop water escaping, but it’s neither hydrating nor very nourishing, so they’ll likely stay chapped.
“Look for products that contain a mixture of humectants, occlusives and emollients. Humectants such as hyaluronic acid attract and retain water, occlusives such as petroleum jelly provide a protective layer to prevent water loss and emollients such as jojoba oil soften and smooth the skin.”
- Try La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 soothing repairing balm, £7.50, lookfantastic.com – BUY NOW
By radiator, heat with a bowl of oils
Q: My skin feels tight, flaky and parched. I’ve even started noticing more fine lines. What can I do that’s affordable?
Japanese scientists found that faces exposed to ten percent humidity were more rigid and had deeper skin folds than faces exposed to 80 per cent humidity. This supports the theory that low humidity can accelerate the formation wrinkles.
Facialist Lisa Harris, whose celebrity clients include Ruth Langsford and Lizzie Cundy, says: “Placing a bowl of water mixed with essential oils in the room will take the dryness out of the air and helps to prevent skin drying out.
“Use relaxing scents such as lavender and place it next to the radiator to create your own humidifier. This will help to retain moisture, but note that these aren’t recommended when pregnant or breastfeeding.
“For a festive scent, add a sliced orange, cinnamon stick and nutmeg to a pan of water – keep it on low and let it humidify the room.”
- Try Neal’s Yard lavender oil, £9.50, nealsyardremedies.com – BUY NOW
Best for itching: Lukewarm baths
Q) I OFTEN get dry skin but now it’s becoming uncontrollably itchy, it’s uncomfortable and sore. Is this eczema or something else?
A) Itchy skin often tends to stem from eczema, but it’s not the only reason, says Dr Ophelia Veraitch.
The dermatologist for L’Oreal Paris adds: “There are a number of different types of eczema but the most well-known is atopic dermatitis, which can make skin dry, itchy and inflamed.
“It often involves small bumps filled with fluid that break when scratched and can lead to infections.
“A lot of people who suffer from eczema notice that they can get flare-ups during the winter. Transepidermal water loss or skin cell dehydration is the main cause.
“Other skin conditions that can lead to dry, sensitive and itchy skin include psoriasis and rosacea.
“Stick to lukewarm water for your body and face and try a soap-free wash, these are kinder to skin. If skin becomes infected from itching and breaking, see a doctor.”
- Try Bioderma Atoderm shower gel, £14.50, Boots – BUY NOW
You can keep your hands clear of perfume
Q) MY dry, cracked hands sometimes bleed. What can I do to stop this?
A) Avoid fragrances. Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme, skin expert and medical director at Adonia Medical Clinic in West London, says: “Use gentle, fragrance-free cleansers on the hands and follow with an emollient hand cream.
“Perfumed moisturisers and cleansers can irritate a damaged skin barrier further. For extra thirsty hands, give them a deep moisturising session by wearing glove masks in the evening.”
“What you eat will keep your skin barrier strong, so go for healthy fats that contain Omega 3 and 9 fatty acids, including olive oil, flax seeds and fatty fish such as salmon.”
- Try Nails Inc Thirsty Hands moisturising hand mask, £5, nailsinc.com – BUY NOW
Never scrub your bum or body bumps
Q. I have acne-like marks under my buttocks. I’ve tried exfoliating but they won’t budge. What should I do?
Teresa, Basingstoke, Hants
A) Long sitting periods can cause irritation and friction, which can result in folliculitis or inflammation of hair follicles. Joanne Rendell is a therapist at The Skin Experts. She adds: “Too much booty in the chair can lead to buttne.
“If your job requires you to sit, stand up often throughout the day. Medik8 Blemish control pads are pre-soaked with salicylic acid to break down oil and dirt deep in the pores.
“The alcohol-free formula protects against dryness and helps preserve your skin’s natural moisture balance.
“Use after cleansing, on the face and larger areas like the back, bottom, neck and arms, to decongest breakouts. Also, wear breathable fabrics that don’t cause you to get too sweaty or contain fibres that irritate the skin.”
- Try Medik8 Blemish Control pads, £27, lookfantastic.com – BUY NOW
Even for oily skin, moisturiser is important
Q) What is the reason my skin has become so oily and flaky?
A)Cold temperatures can cause problems with our self-producing sebum levels.
Dermatologist Dr Cristina Psomadakis says: “Even oily skin styles can lose hydration. Your skin might have a top layer of oiliness but beneath that it can be flaky, cracked, tight or textured – indicating signs of skin sensitivity.
“This can be tricky to deal with but it’s all about stripping back to basics, making sure you are protecting your skin from the environment and providing it with enough hydration. A lot of people with oilier skin think they have to skip moisturiser to prevent feeling more greasy, and that’s one way to end up with oily but dehydrated skin.
“Try using an oil balancing cleanser, such as Cetaphil’s oily skin cleanser, £9.50 at Boots. Follow up with a lightweight gel moisturiser that is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t block pores.
“If you’re still getting oily in specific areas, try using a salicylic acid toner on those areas alone after cleansing and follow up with moisturiser.”
- Try Face Theory Supergel oil-free moisturiser M3, £13.99, facetheory.com -BUY NOW
Long showers can be a nemesis for scaly legs
Q) My legs look like reptile skin, even though I moisturize most days. What can you do?
A) Facialist Lisa Harris says: “Don’t stay in the shower for more than five minutes – this is enough time to cleanse the skin without damaging natural oils.
“Add Himalayan salts or Epsom salts with some essential oils to restore moisture. Seaweed is great for detoxing and hydrating the skin. Drinking more water will also help to dry your legs. Drinking 2 litres should be your goal.
“To get rid of the scaliness, try a gentle scrub exfoliator while having a soak, once the skin is more supple. Rub in circular motions.”
Try Ole Henriksen Lemonade Smoothing scrub, £12, Boots.
Lisa adds: “If you find scrubs too harsh, use a chemical exfoliator to gently break down dead skin. Use once a week and build up to twice if it’s being stubborn.”
- Try INKEY List Lactic Acid exfoliant, 30ml, £7.99, lookfantastic.com – BUY NOW
Antibac scarves, masks and creams to combat acne
Q. I have severe acne around my chin, cheeks and forehead. I think it’s a combination of wearing a mask and now a scarf as it gets colder. How do I control my breakouts and prevent them from getting worse?
Glenda in Brighton
A) First, track your menstrual cycle to determine if your breakouts are hormonally or bacterial. Psychotherapist Charlotte Ferguson, founder of skincare website Disciple London, says: “Wearing a mask is the new norm, but one of the unfortunate side-effects is acne, or maskne.
“This type of breakout can be different from hormonal breakouts – small white bumps under the skin that can also be itchy. It can be caused by irritation, friction, and blocked pores.
“Even people who have never experienced breakouts can experience maskne – it doesn’t discriminate. Spray an antibacterial spray on your scarf or mask to protect skin.
- Try Disciple Skin Maskne mist, £17, cultbeauty.co.uk – buy now
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