Ask anyone who lives in slightly frosty weather and they’ll tell you all about the perils of winter. Yes wearing those waistcoats and scarves can be a lot of fun, but unfortunately, your skin doesn’t seem to think so. While our summer skincare routine is pretty simple, less is more. The heat, humidity and soaring temperatures combined with oily skin sound like a hot steamy mess that you don’t want to be party to. The lesser moisturiser, sunscreen and makeup you have on, the better your skin feels. A few degrees north or south of the thermometer can wreak havoc on your skin, hair and body. Depending on the temperatures, your general routine too should change a little. A few of us beauty enthusiasts have our skincare routines set in stone. We know what works for us, however little or elaborate it may be. But then suddenly, just like that one unwanted guest who refuses to leave, your skin throws a tantrum and you're at a point where you need to rethink your entire routine again. This usually happens during seasonal change. As is the change in your wardrobe, the rest of your routine too deserves a little revamp.
The answer to this question, like everything else in life is relative (no pun intended!). Some of us have inherently dry skin, while the rest of us experience these ‘dry skin’ problems with the onset of winter. The solution thankfully is common. Hydration is key, and hydration never fails you. A few layers of hydration can bring you one step closer to the ‘glassy skin’ of your dreams!
While it’s going to be difficult to tell you exactly why you have dry skin, some of these might break it down for you a little better.
You know that hot, steamy shower that we all love to indulge in? Yep, that relaxing wonderful feeling of a warm hug is what’s aggravating or causing your skin to be dry, dull and flaky. A hot shower strips your skin and hair of all it’s natural moisture. This means your scalp and skin have to overcompensate by producing more oil than required. Sometimes, this leads to excessively oily skin and acne while in other situations it leads to dry, parched skin. The best way to avoid this would be well, not to take a hot shower. Now I’m not telling you to bathe in cold water - but yes that does help your skin glow. A shower in lukewarm water is far easier on your skin. If you must bathe with hot water, keep in mind that this opens up your pores and makes them vulnerable to damage. So if you’re persistent on taking a hot shower, do end it with a blast of cold water; this will allow your pores to close. This way, you get the best of both worlds. Hot shower and less skin damage.
Using the wrong soap, shampoo and skincare products can make your skin dry, rough and scaly. When winter comes knocking, you want to introduce oils and hydrating ingredients into your routine.
It’s definitely advisable to drink more water. 8 glasses a day is the recommended amount. The more, the merrier. But if you live in an area where your water is untreated and ‘hard’ your skin and hair do show signs of damage. A quick way to help reverse this would be to use mild products that are gentle on your skin.
Psst: If you don’t like guzzling water, here are a few recipes for fruit-infused water that’s not only beneficial for your skin but also help boost your metabolism. Lose weight drinking water, hell yeah!
I’m sorry to rain on your ‘I hate moisturiser parade’ but if you have dry skin, and if it’s winter, you need to moisturise. The chilly air, the dry heated rooms and the lack of humidity are not kind to your skin. Perhaps you ought to be mindful and slather on a moisturizer or even better, a rich moisturizing oil every day. If you do use body oil, use it on wet skin just after you’ve showered. This way you lock in all the moisture and your body will be as soft as a baby’s bum! Here are a few body oils that we absolutely swear by come winter, summer or the apocalypse.
Did you know that some types of medication cause your skin to dry? Yep, and in those cases, you’re going to need some heavy duty moisturization. Check with your doctor if any of the medication you’ve been prescribed causes your skin to dry out. If that is the case, over the counter moisturisers and products won’t be of much help in the hydration department. You’ll have to seek help from a dermatologist and ask for products that work with the type of medication you’ve been prescribed. Most acne medications dry out your skin.
Some of us have a dry skin type and when this is the case, there’s not much you can do other than hydrate. Come summer, monsoon or winter you need to layer on the moisturisers. While I’m not telling you that you should bathe in oil, you do need to moisturise. Whatever your poison may be - oil, moisturiser, lotion or body butter you will definitely need to be committed for your skin to be happy. You might find a Korean skincare routine to be particularly beneficial. Here’s everything you need to know about Korean Skincare and their elaborate and non-greasy hydration routine. Alternatively, you could consider smacking on an overnight sleeping mask so that you wake up to plump and bouncy skin. Here are a few we love!
There’s a good reason our grandmothers gave us a full body oil massage. The best time to do this would be right after a hot shower. This is the time when your pores are open. Applying oil and giving yourself a quick 5-minute massage helps your body retain moisture and remain soft all day long. The oil forms a protective barrier over your skin protecting it from harsh environmental conditions, wind and even heaters in the office. Besides moisturising your skin it also leaves your body with the most gorgeous glow! Any kind of light body oil works, even baby oil is fine. If you want something a little more heavy-duty, try Virgin Olive Oil (Rs 242)
Another quick trick to ensure that your entire body is hydrated is to add a tablespoon or two of body oil or milk to your bathwater. You know that Cleopatra used to bathe in milk right? While I’m not asking you to be extravagant and extra, a milk bath would really help your case if you have eczema or psoriasis. If you bathe in a bathtub, add a few drops of essential oil for a truly relaxing experience. Even if you use a shower to bathe, fill up a bucket full of water and add some oil to it. Use this as your last rinse. Trust me, your body is going to feel irresistible. And to areas that are exceptionally dry, add a few drops of oil to your palm and massage them in. If body oil doesn’t quite cut it for you, a capful of a dermatologist-recommended a product like the Oilatum Emollient Liquid Paraffin to your water will make your winter dry skin a little more bearable.
Nothing better than a DIY home remedy, is there? Check out this easy homemade recipe for body butter. Fair warning: Hydrated, glowing skin ahead! You can substitute the tea tree oil with absolutely any essential oil you like. Lavender, Rose, Orange are some options.
Sometimes dry skin is more internal than it is external. Excessive dry skin could be your body’s internal mechanism telling you to drink more water. And you must consume your recommended 8 glasses or more if you want your skin, body and hair to be strong and glossy.
Vitamin E capsules are a one-stop shop for all your skin, hair and nail problems. Consult your doctor and check if it could be beneficial to add a Vitamin E capsule to your daily diet. It’ll not only help your hair and skin but it’s also going to make your nails stronger. And as a bonus, it helps with acne too. You can even pop open a Vitamin E capsule and use the oil inside on your hair, face and body.
Often during winter, the heater or other indoor heating systems tend to make the air around you dry. This not only dries out the air around you but also wreaks havoc on your skin and hair. If you often sit close to a fireplace to get warm and cosy, even that makes your skin susceptible to excessive dryness. A humidifier placed in your room at night can offset the harsh effects of indoor heaters. The humidifier will put back the humidity into the air around you and as a bonus, can even act as your home-spa. A few drops of essential oil in your humidifier will convert any room into a calm, restful happy place. It even helps to purify the air around you!
Keep these tips and tricks in mind to perfectly tailor your skincare, haircare and body care routine from summers to winters. The change needs to be a slow transition. You can't wake up one morning and switch all your products. You need to do it step-by-step, without alarming your skin. Scalding hot showers need to be avoided. Comfortable as they are, hot water is actually stripping the moisture off your body. Warm water is your best friend here on.
So, what needs to change?
This is the time to step away from the light foam cleansers that deal with humidity and gravitate towards the creamy rich cleansers. The code for winter skincare is, MOISTURISATION! When it comes to ingredients, you're moving away from cooling agents like aloe and mint and moving towards cleansers that contain milk. The best way to transition through this is 'skincare cocktailing'. Just mix a spritz of your summer foam cleanser with a cream-based cleanser to ease your skin into the change.
The basic idea is to layer products, starting from the lightest into the one that's the densest. This is the time when you need to start listening to what your skin needs. To start with, add a richer serum or moisturiser to the routine and then see how much more is required. For example, if I am travelling to a place with sub-zero temperature, my skin needs extra moisturisation, especially during the night. So I top up a moisturiser with a sleeping mask and seal the deal with a good hydrating facial oil.
Got more questions about layering? Here's a handy guide you need to read.
The misconception about transitioning from summer to winter skincare is that you need to switch your moisturiser. We tend to change the quick absorption, non-oily formula with cold cream. The problem is that the cold cream is much richer than your summer moisturiser and your skin doesn't take kindly to this sudden change. Hence you hear a lot of people who talk about breaking out when they apply cold cream. To transition, mix a few drops of facial oil into your light moisturiser. You can then finish with the cold cream.
This is one product that I would recommend, regardless of the season. It refreshes your skin, tones, cleanse and even acts as a basic makeup remover in a sticky situation. Get one that smells good and you're good to go! This Kama Ayurveda Pure Rose Water (Rs 275) is one that I am currently loving. Spritz it on before you apply your moisturiser, use it during the day when your skin feels dry or even use it to set your makeup. There’s something extremely comforting about the smell of rose and you can use this as a quick mid-day pick me up.
This is something that has now been added to my bag. It can soothe, moisturise when you're feeling particularly dry, act as a hand or foot cream or even a hair mask! The Egyptian Magic All-Purpose Cream (Rs 2,575) is going to be my best friend for the next 3 months. This is a perfect consistency, which makes it an ideal product to use when you're changing your skincare routine. This can be used on the body post-shower as well. When there are so many ways that you can use one product, you know it’s going to be a lifesaver. If you’re apprehensive of using the same product on your face, body and hair you need to check out the reviews for this moisturiser on some international websites. It’s one of the oldest skincare secrets straight from the Egyptians.
With cold weather comes dry and flaky skin and what’s the most effective way to get rid of it? Exfoliation. You should be exfoliating your face and body at least once a week. It helps to slough off dead skin cells and keep your skin soft. It also helps your skincare products like moisturiser and body oil absorb better. If you don't already have this step as a part of your skincare routine then it is time you add it. A good scrub is ideal when dry skin weather approaches. A gentle exfoliator with microbeads like the St. Ives Fresh Skin Apricot Face Scrub (Rs 550) could be your saviour.
As I have written above, a facial oil is a must as a transition tool from summer to winter skincare. But it is also a great product to have around by itself. This Indulgeo Essentials Rose Gold Daily Oil (Rs 1,280) is definitely one that has made it to my skincare arsenal. There are so many ways you can use this little bottle of magic. Use it as the last step of your skincare regime in the PM to seal in all that hydration, mix it in with moisturiser, sunscreen and foundation during the day to keep your skin soft and supple. Added into foundation or cream makeup, it can boost your skin’s natural radiance and give you that JLo glow. If you have extremely dry skin, a few drops of this oil moisturised into your skin in the morning will really help too!
While this may not be the best thing to slather onto your face, petroleum jelly really does banish dry skin on the hands and feet like a charm. If you have a stubborn patch of dry skin or your feet, cuticles and lips feel very dry apply a thick layer of Vaseline (Rs 311), put on some socks and call it a night. Your feet will be baby soft the next morning!
Looking for more winter skin care products? Check these out!
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This story was updated in January 2019.