Fixes for the most common winter skin woes
It’s not just your face that suffers – your skin from head to toe does, too
The cold, hard truth is, everything you love about winter – crisp air, indoor heating, roaring fires, steamy showers – doesn’t really love you back. “Extreme and frequent changes in your surrounding temperature can traumatise skin, so not only is the heater in your office doing your skin harm, so is the transition from cold, dry air outside to artificial, dry heat inside,” explains NIVEA skin care expert Robyn Hutch. Here’s another fact: supple skin during the chilly season is possible.
Ready to come out of winter with great skin? Read on to find out the most common skin concerns, and how to overcome them before spring kicks in.
Dullness and flakiness
Flakiness usually appears on body parts consistently exposed to the weather, like the face. But limbs that are constantly rubbing against protective clothing can also become scaly, and dry-prone areas like elbows and knees may be exacerbated.
The fix: “Exfoliating is essential in winter to get rid of dead cells and allow skin to effectively soak up moisture,” says Hutch. Just don’t overdo it: once or twice a week, using a mild or moisturising scrub in gentle, circular motions, should do the trick.
Do this: “Always follow exfoliation with a moisturiser,” adds Hutch.
Dryness and rough patches
Excessively hot showers and baths, plus intense temperature fluctuations, can reduce the skin’s lipids (these help protect its moisture levels). Those prone to dryness might find their skin even more uncomfortably dehydrated, particularly on the shoulders, arms, elbows and legs.
The fix: Try not to over-cleanse, and increase moisture with nourishing oils or glycerin-based creams.
Do this: Avoid alcohol-based products or anything targeted specifically to oiliness, which may strip the skin.
Cracked heels and parched hands
Often more noticeable during winter, this is a direct result of under-nourished skin and most commonly occurs on rough or sensitive areas like heels and knuckles.
The fix: Either a dedicated or DIY hand and foot mask – apply a generous coat of an intensely hydrating balm, slip on some cotton socks and gloves, and go to sleep.
Do this: Turn down the temperature in the shower (and make them shorter), be careful not to over-wash your hands and try to limit your use of hand sanitisers that contain alcohol.
Sensitivity and irritation
Dry and flaky skin courtesy of the harsh weather conditions can cause other issues, explains Hutch – namely redness, irritation, soreness and blemishes. And it’s not just those with sensitive skin who are at risk: “Improper care can see skin that is otherwise characterised as normal or combination switch to more dry and sensitive during winter.”
The fix: Avoid anything fragranced, active, or laden with preservatives, and be diligent about moisturising to keep skin balanced.
Do this: Switch to products that are both gentle and specifically designed for sensitive skin to avoid further inflammation.
A beauty editor and vitamin C fanatic who has worked across a range of print and digital publications, including Stellar, marie claire, Gritty Pretty and Badlands Journal.