Behind the Scenes: How Your Skin Changes in Winter

Behind the Scenes: How Your Skin Changes in Winter

Highlights


Introduction

As the day gets shorter and the winds become chillier, your skin starts to exhibit certain changes on the surface of the skin. Seasonal changes can wreak havoc on the surface of your face leading to skin conditions in manifolds. As the season transitions from breezy autumn to chilly winters, there is a certain nip in the air that reinforces a tighter, drier and rough appearance on the skin.

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When the temperature dips down and the winds get harsher you try to cover your skin with an extra layer of jacket to protect it from the cold or simply crank up the thermostat. Some of us might also slather an extra layer of creamy, heavy moisturiser to avoid the dreadful dryness. However, there is a lot of ambiguity involved that most of us are unaware of. There is a lot that goes underneath the epidermis and it is important to the “whys” as we foray into winter.

Low humidity levels, decreased temperatures and chilly winds have a great impact on the appearance of our skin. Our skin gets drier due to the low production of oil that helps keep the skin moist, supple and hydrated. The chilly winters usually strip off the natural oils of the skin and exacerbate skin issues like rosacea, redness, inflammation, xerosis, & scaly skin. FYI, it is not just the face that is affected. Hands, elbows, knees and feet also become dry and rough in the winters.

The Role of Humidity in Winter Skincare

Humidity is the amount of water vapour or moisture present in the air. The ideal humidity levels should range from 40%-50% for healthy skin. However, an imbalance in the humidity levels could worsen the skin condition and lead to dryness, flakes or inflammation. Whether there is a surplus or deficit of moisture in the air, the fluctuation can severely hamper the natural defences and oil mechanisms of the skin.

 

During the winters, there is low humidity outdoors. On the contrary, when we are sitting indoors we bank on heaters and warmers to keep ourselves warm and cosy. Cold air, which carries less moisture than warm air, enters the house from outside, creating an imbalance and lowering its relative humidity. This leads to dehydration. Several concerns arise once the humidity level drops below 20%. Here are some of them:

 

  • Dehydration: Low humidity outdoors during the winters reflects as dry, flaky skin due to the loss of moisture. To make things worse, the indoor heating systems dry up the little moisture that is left from the outside air, and make the skin drier. To elaborate this, there is transepidermal water loss that takes place, where the skin is stripped off its natural oils and moisture, making it look even drier.
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    Solution: Invest in humidifiers at your home to bring the moisture in the air indoors back to a healthy level. Maintaining your pH levels through adequate water, moisture-rich foods, is crucial when the skin is feeling dry.

  • Chronic skin irritation and dryness: When the humidity levels are really low, you tend to lose more moisture through your respiratory system and pores in your skin. This results in exacerbation of dryness & irritation on the skin, chapped lips, itchy throat infection and nose block.
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    Solution: To stay away from these conditions, it is important to take meticulous care of your skin. The biggest one is: NO LONG HOT WATER SHOWERS! Long hot water showers may seem like the perfect luxurious winter indulgence, but there is a flip-side to it too. Long hot water showers with chemically-infused soaps have the ability to strip off the skin’s natural oils and leave it feeling extremely tight and rough. Find a balance, and try to bathe with lukewarm water to maintain the pH balance on your skin. To trap in the moisture, lather your skin with a moisturising cream within 30 seconds of your shower.

    TIP: The skin absorbs the product better, when damp.

    Windy Weather and Its Effect on Skin

    Only UVA rays can damage the skin and lead to sunburn, tanning and dark spots. FALSE! Contrary to popular belief, it is not only the harmful rays of the sun that can damage the skin. Mother Nature has got a few more plans to disrupt our skin. Wind is that stealthy force which lurks unnoticed and then suddenly shocks the skin, disrupting its natural barrier. It attacks the first line of defence, the outermost layer of the skin, stratum corneum and sloughs off all the skin cells (protecting the skin from the UVA rays).

     

    The strong, chilly winds has a double impact on our skin:

  • It reduces the natural and the topical strength of our skin to protect itself from the sun, allowing the UVA rays to penetrate deeper into the skin.
  • It also acts as a direct irritant, disrupting the protective barrier by shedding off all the skin cells and making it more susceptible to external stressors.
  • Here are some practical tips to protect your skin on windy days:

  • Cover up your skin with adequate clothing, reach out for sun protectants like sunglasses and hats.
  • Reapplication of sunscreen every two hours.
  • Don't be fooled by the wind. Reduce your exposure to the wind by staying indoors, or shelter yourself from it.
  • Ingredients to Look for in Winter Skincare Products

    Hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and glycerin: What is their role in protection against the cold? These three ingredients act as humectants for the skin during the winters and help in keeping the skin firm, plumped and healthy.

  • Ceramides: These are lipids a.k.a fatty acids that are found in the sebaceous glands, known as the building blocks of the skin. A deficiency of these, can lead to dryness, ageing and dull skin. Ceramides help in retaining moisture, protecting the skin from transepidermal water loss, shielding against free radicals and keeping the skin young and healthy.
  • Hyaluronic Acid: a.k.a a gel-like emollient that has the ability to hold 1,000 times its weight in water. It also protects the skin against environmental damage, and helps in cell renewal.
  • Glycerin: A humectant that attracts water to the skin and is a one-size-fit-all hydrating ingredient, which is suitable for all skin types. It keeps the skin dewy and hydrated, a true warrior shielding the skin against the winter dryness.
  • Lifestyle Changes for Healthier Winter Skin

    Our lifestyle patterns, eating habits and routines play an important role in manifesting a healthy appearance on the surface of our skin.

  • Adequate hydration will help your skin glow inside-out.
  • Nourishing nuts and seeds, water-rich fruits and vegetables will help your skin radiate and also give it an extra dose of essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins.
  • Exercising and being active also helps in sweating out all the impurities, and reveal a clean, blemish-free complexion.
  • Humidifiers indoors will help you control the humidity and prevent the moisture from escaping, protecting it from drying your skin.
  • Follow an effective skincare routine. Apply sunscreen for protection and cover up your body, to avoid frivolous penetration of the UVA rays, harsh winds and pollution into your skin.
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    Conclusion

    As the season changes its narrative foraying into the chilly winters, there is a lot that happens beneath the epidermis of your skin that goes unnoticed. It is important to understand the transition your skin undergoes and feed it with essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals accordingly. Winter can take away a lot of moisture from your skin and make it drier. Understanding these behind-the-scenes alterations and incorporating moisture-rich serums, moisturisers and creams into your skincare routine is ideal for external protection. Winter casts its unique dry spell on our skin. Perhaps, it is important to nurture it with extra care, love and protection to reveal soft, radiant and healthy skin amidst the frosty chills.

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