Hands up whose skin is looking all dewy-fresh and juicy-plump right now? *Tumbleweed*
No one. That’s who. Literally no one.
Along with the entire nation, consider yourself a fully signed-up member of the Withered Winter Skin Club. The tightness, dryness and flakiness you’re experiencing are all completely normal for this time of year (you can blame the dehydrating central heating, wind-whipping and no-sun glumness for a start).
‘Along with the cold temperatures outdoors and central heating indoors, we’re spending more time in front of screens than ever and many of us are experiencing elevated stress – all of which can absolutely cause havoc on our skin,’ says Marie Reynolds, Skin & Wellness expert.
And blue Jan is real, which isn’t exactly great news for our skin: increased levels of anxiety contributes to a flooding of cortisol (our stress hormone), which exacerbates oil production in the skin. It also triggers broken sleep, so our skin isn’t repairing efficiently at night. And shall we also mention the relentless irritation from mask-induced breakouts?
Excuse our French, but that makes for a total skin sh*tshow with a sullen surface that’s sore and sensitive, peppered with blemishes building up under crusty dry skin. So how about we fix this, agreed?
We’ve put together smart tips, do-able routine strategies and a massive pick’n’mix of product recommendations to help you build a winter ‘skinsulation’ fortress that combats all of the above. Read on to get back in the glow game.
1. PRESS PAUSE ON THESE PRODUCTS
Have a look at what you’re using already that might be spiking your irritation and dehydration, and switch it up or step it back. For instance:
- Over-cleansing with foaming formulas or electronic brushes can parch the skin of crucial natural oils that help strengthen and protect your skin barrier. Instead, go gentle with a milk, oil or balm cleanser (see our picks later on), using warm water and a soft flannel, morning and night.
- When used correctly, stimulating products such as Vitamin C and retinol, pore-purging clay masks and intensive peels can be transformative marvels for problematic skin – the evidence is out there. But if your skin is compromised right now, pull back on the big guns and store them away for when your complexion has re-calibrated and calmed down.
- Ease off on gritty facial scrubs: your skin is dealing with unusually high levels of inflammation so try not to beat it up any further with a physical exfoliator. That said, do keep using your favourite acid toner as this will maintain steady cell turnover and ensure your other products perform at their best (see our gentle winter picks further on).
2. USE A LAYERING TECHNIQUE
The many trusted dermatologists and experts that we speak to at GLAMOUR all agree that a winter skincare strategy should focus on layering your products. If you haven’t read Caroline Hirons’ Skin Care book (AKA The Holy Grail) yet, here’s her approach based on years of insight and knowledge:
“Treat the skin like you do your clothing. If you’re layering clothing, layer your skincare. You need a skincare ‘wardrobe’ at this time of year more than any other. Cleanse, tone (acid/mist or both), serum, oil, cream, SPF and/or balm. How much and when you use all of these depends on your skin, but a general rule of thumb is to start with ‘less is more’ and if your skin is still absorbing the product, keep going (the only thing to be aware of is layering silicone products, as they don’t always play well together and have the potential to ‘peel’ or ‘roll’, which feels grim.”
Still tempting to load on one thick layer of rich cream for that thirsty hit? ‘If you apply a generous amount to the skin at once, you might feel the moisture immediately but it takes a long time for the skin’s fibrous structure to absorb it all efficiently,’ explains Leah Lee, Head of Global Education for Dr.Jart+. ‘However, when using a layering technique, you can pace out each step and allow for the beneficial ingredients to absorb, plus it helps strengthen your skin barrier.’
See below our dream shopping cart featuring each key layer.
3. GET A PROFESSIONAL OPINION
If your winter skin woes are bordering on unbearable and emotionally disruptive, it could be reassuring to show your face to a pro for a really good inspection. And by this we don’t mean travelling for a pricey consultation only to be pushed into buying their in-house brand. Quite the opposite.
Have a look at these virtual skin consultation services, many of which are complimentary, or book a session with Lion/ne, an online destination launched during spring 2020’s lockdown. Co-founders Ksenia Selivanova and Megan Felton are qualified aestheticians who offer ‘skinterviews’, i.e. a deep-dive into your skin’s needs with unbiased product advice (from £65 for 45mins).
One of our most trusted skin health specialists and GLAMOUR contributors, Dija Ayodele, is the founder of West Room Aesthetics and she offers her own 1 hour Skin Health Consultation. This is the best £125 you may ever spend, as you’ll get Dija’s incredible insights and advice plus personalised digital notes, as well as product suggestions that will genuinely change your skin life. “Nothing beats professional bespoke skincare advice tailored to your individual skin and concerns, says Dija. “In the long run, it saves you time, money and heartache.” We couldn’t agree more.
4. REASSESS YOUR SKINCARE KIT.
You know how before a big party you haul everything out of your wardrobe in the hope of finding a magical forgotten dress that will totally work wonders for your event? Do the same with your skincare! Dig it all out, everything. Every cleanser and cream tucked away and lay it all out in front of you. Now divide it all up into the layering categories listed above. Is there anything missing that you can afford to add in? Something that needs replacing with a richer texture for winter? Better yet, is there a luxxy bottle of deliciousness that you’d stored away for a rainy day? THIS IS THE RAINY DAY MY FRIEND.
5. LET’S SHOP!
Below is our carefully curated list of tried and trusted products that align with the layering strategy for optimal winter Skinsulation. They focus on maximising moisture levels, preventing dehydration and irritation, and soothing the inflammatory responses to stress, extreme weather and breakouts. Drench yourself in this supreme selection and watch your skin go from grim to glowy in a matter of days.