Winter is upon us, and you’re probably noticing changes in your hair, skin, nails, and possibly even your mental health. With these cold days and nights, our skin becomes drier, our hair loses moisture, our nails can become more brittle, and lowered moods are more prevalent.
And this year in particular, we’re coming up to two years since the start of the pandemic—and she’s still going strong. So with everything we’re going through, it’s important to stay tuned into your body and mind so you can make appropriate changes, and try and get through Winter as unscathed as possible.
In this article I will briefly discuss some of the skin and health challenges we may face during Winter; and I’ll give you a skin and self-care guide for surviving Winter.
The first thing most of us tend to notice when the weather cools down is that our skin is a lot drier. This is caused by a combination of factors.
- The air contains less humidity in Winter, which causes the moisture on our skin’s surface to evaporate quicker.
- We spend a lot of time indoors with dry heating, which has a similar effect as the dry, Winter air outside.
- We take hotter and longer showers, which strip and dehydrate our skin.
- We don’t drink as much water in the colder months.
- We don’t switch our skincare to more Winter-appropriate products.
Those are the key culprits to our dry, Winter-weathered skin. So the simple fix would be to turn the heater down; use a humidifier; take shorter, colder showers; drink more water; and buy new skincare products. But these are all easier said than done.
We have our creature comforts in Winter time. Sipping on a mug of mulled red wine by the fire after a long soak in scorching hot bath water will no doubt dehydrate you—but boy, does it feel good! Yet, if you can be a little mindful of your activities during Winter—like upping your water intake, taking less-scorching showers, and using more nourishing skincare products—then your skin will feel a lot better for it.
The Winter Blues
It isn’t just our physical health that can suffer in the colder months. It’s a scientific fact that our mood can drop when the weather cools down, and the days become shorter. This is why you’ll also find higher depression rates in regions where the weather is cloudy, gloomy, cold, or dark for large chunks throughout the year—such as parts of Britain, Greenland, and Alaska.
Most of us can manage a few gloomy days here and there. But there is a clinical name to describe the condition where people become depressed with the seasonal changes; known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) (1). Have you ever experienced a noticeable mood change when there have been too many gloomy consecutive days? You may be experiencing a form of SAD.
If you know that you’re more prone to feeling sad or low during Winter, it’s important to do things to boost your mood. Everyone is different, but keep reading and I’ll highlight some ways that could help you.
Skincare Guide For Surviving Winter
The first guide I’m going to share is a skincare guide to surviving Winter. As mentioned earlier, the cold weather wreaks havoc on our skin. So it’s vital that you protect it with good quality products. Here are my top tips:
- Oil Cleansing
- Body Hydration
- Wearing SPF
- Sleeping on Silk
- Caring for Lips
- Wearing 100% Silk Face Mask
Even if you have oily skin like me, this is my number one tip for Winter. The cold weather can damage our skin’s protective barrier, which is made up of three layers:
- Acid Mantle
- Lipid Barrier
Many cleansers out there strip the skin, and break down these barriers, leaving skin vulnerable to free radical damage. An oil cleanser will emulsify and melt away debris, while retaining the skin barrier’s integrity.
You can learn more about your skin’s barrier in this article.
Try one of these:
Some tips on how to keep your body hydrated are to exfoliate once or twice a week, and use a hydrating lotion everyday. Exfoliation will help facilitate the skin’s natural shedding process that tends to slow down during Winter, so your lotions will absorb more easily and effectively. Using a lotion everyday will create a barrier on the skin’s surface, so moisture won’t evaporate.
Try this duo:
The sun is our biggest nemesis when it comes to aging. But many of us don’t think to use SPF in the Winter time, so a lot of damage happens during the colder months as a result. Wearing a good quality mineral SPF will keep your skin protected, without absorbing into the skin, like a chemical SPF does. Here are three different options:
A moisturizer and SPF in one:
SPF that you can wear on top of your favorite moisturizer:
A powdered SPF that you can mix into your favorite moisturizer:
Sleeping on Silk
This might not seem like a skincare product, but think about the sheets you sleep on right now. They’re likely made from cotton, or some kind of blend, right? Well, these fabrics are absorbent, and can actually take moisture from your skin while you sleep. So your skincare products you just applied in your night time ritual are slowly soaking into your pillow overnight.
Silk, on the other hand, does not absorb moisture like other fabrics. It’s also naturally hypoallergenic, so allergy sufferers can rejoice; and it is also antibacterial and biodegradable.
Another feature to look for in your silk bedding is silver ion-technology. It’s where silver ions are woven into silk to create a passive acne-fighting treatment while you sleep. This is proven to help with breakouts and acne inflammation.
A full sheet set:
Caring for Lips
Our lips can become incredibly chapped and dry throughout Winter. So a good way to combat this is to do a weekly exfoliant and make on your lips. This will remove any dead and dry skin, and nourish and hydrate the delicate skin.
Wearing 100% Silk Face Mask
For those of you who are a little more cautious of germs during flu season, or perhaps you work in healthcare, a silk face mask will help keep you protected, while also being gentle on the skin.
While silk is not a medical or surgical-grade material, it can be layered underneath the polyester and plastic fiber surgical masks that are often harsh and irritating on the skin. Silk also helps with preventing breakouts.
Self-Care Guide for Surviving Winter
Now that we’ve covered skincare, let’s address self care.
- Drinking Tea
- Buying Natural Fiber-Fabrics
- Moving Everyday
- Staying Social
I’m not talking about the sweetened teas you get from the gas station. I’m talking about brewed tea made with leaves, fruit, flowers, herbs, and spices. Tea—such as green and white teas, and berry teas—have an incredible amount of antioxidants. If you’re not aware, antioxidants are what protects our bodies and cells from oxidative damage, like sun damage, and pollution.
Certain teas can also help with your immune system, like formulas with echinacea and olive leaf extract. A warm tea also helps dilate blood vessels, which can help ease sinus congestion and other cold and flu-symptoms we often get during Winter.
Buying Natural-Fiber Fabrics
Something you may not have thought about is the fabric of your blankets. Most blankets we purchase are often made with a blend, like cotton and polyester. Polyester is actually a plastic, and while it can be warm (and unbreathable), it’s completely unsustainable, and could be harmful to your health.
There have been studies done around the safety of using synthetic fabrics. Synthetic fabrics, like polyester, are exposed to chemicals in the production stage, and those compounds can remain in trace amounts in our clothing and linen. While there have not been extensive studies done in this area, the few studies that have been performed suggest that synthetic fabrics can be harmful to our health (2,3). In another study with dogs, they put the pups in polyester fabric clothing, and found after wearing the fabrics for 24 months, the dog’s sperm count and sperm motility had decreased and showed degenerative changes (4).
Instead of using synthetic-blended blankets, opt for a 100% Silk Blanket. As mentioned earlier, silk has a wealth of features, such as being hypoallergenic, antibacterial, non-absorbent, and biodegradable. It’s also one of the softest fabrics on earth, which is what you want when you’re snuggled up by the fire with a cup of tea.
In Winter time, it’s so easy to just curl up into a ball and stay there until Spring time. But this is a one-way ticket to Sad Town. So practice movement in any way that feels good, and do it everyday. A few of my favorite things to do that get the body and muscles moving are:
- Yoga or Tai Chi.
- Walking or Trail Hiking.
- Getting a Lomi Lomi or Thai Massage.
- Active or mobility stretching.
- Be outside - even if it’s cloudy and gloomy, you still get a dose of vitamin D, which is crucial to our health.
This one might be a no-brainer, but maintaining a social life during Winter time is not always easy. With the cold nights, many of us prefer to stay home. But this can create isolation, and is something that we want to avoid.
Being social doesn’t have to cost money, and it doesn’t need to be extravagant. You can do dinners, like Korean Hotpot; or a Pinot and Paint event at home; or even a movie night.
When the seasons change, always stay tuned into how you’re feeling. Although Winter can be arguably the most damaging, loneliest, and depressing seasons, it doesn’t have to be. Maintaining your social life, taking joy in the little things, like sipping tea by the fire wrapped up in the world’s softest fabric will ensure that you enjoy the season for all of its cold and glorious wonder.
Emma Masotti is an Australian now living in Austin, TX, and has been a trained esthetician for over 15 years. She is a sustainable skincare writer, educating and building awareness around proper skin health that doesn’t cost the earth.
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