For all of winter’s perks – snuggly clothes, hearty comfort food and red wine in front of the fire – there are definitely a few drawbacks when it comes to your complexion. Have you ever found your holy grail moisturiser turns on you suddenly and stops delivering results? There’s a reason for that: seasonal change.
So, whether winter has robbed you of your glow or your skin is flaking like nobody’s business, we’ve got the answers.
The skin cycle
First things first, in order to understand why your skin takes a turn for the worst come winter, you need to understand the skin’s cycle. According to the experts, your streamlined three-step skincare regime is not universal year-round. Just like the seasons, our skin goes through different phases and as a result our skincare needs to adjust accordingly.
But it’s the sudden changes in weather that skin is particularly sensitive to. You know those four seasons in one day kind of days - cold spells, sunshine and wind – it can take a huge toll on our complexion. Then, when artificial heating (or air conditioning) is added to the mix, our skin barrier is thrown out of whack and has to work even harder to adapt and repair. Due to this, our skin requires different types and levels of support throughout the year.
While not everyone will experience the effects of seasonal change to the same degree, below is a snapshot of the common issues we’re likely to experience come winter and why.
Winter skincare 101
In the winter, rapidly changing temperatures, from heated indoors to cold outdoors, are harsh on the skin and capillaries. The prolonged exposure to wet weather also slows down cell renewal and circulation, as well as strips the skin's barrier function. Overall, you’ll notice your skin just doesn’t operate like it used to - not to mention the effects of winters ills and chills on skin performance!
What to expect
As your skin gets put through the ringer expect to see more dryness and irritation than usual - and most likely a duller complexion. While tempting, try to reduce frequency of super-hot showers and tone down the central heating.
What your skin needs
Winter is all about retaining as much moisture as possible, as well as brightening and reducing dullness. From cleansers to lotions, it’s important to up the ante in the moisture department.
- Ditch the foaming cleanser
Since your skin is already lacking moisture, you don’t want to strip it even more with foaming agents. Instead, introduce a gentle milk or cream-based formula, which will replenish and nourish dry skin. The same goes for makeup removal too – a cream formula is more delicate and soothing for compromised skin.
- Change-up your moisturiser
The lightweight moisturiser you used in summer doesn’t always stack up against the winter elements. If your skin is flaky and your foundations aren’t blending like they used to, your skin probably isn’t getting the moisture it needs. Swap out your summer lotion for a richer formula to feed your skin with much-needed hydration. When it comes to moisturisers, as a general rule, creams hydrate better than lotions as they form a physical barrier that locks in moisture. You may even want to consider using your night cream during the day - just remember to wear SPF.
Try: L'Oreal Revitalift Night Cream 50ml, $22.99, which provides 24 hour moisture and helps stimulate new skin cell regeneration AKA bye, bye dry, flaky skin!
Or, Palmer’s Coconut Water Face Moisturiser with Vitamin E 50g, $12.99, which naturally hydrates the skin with Certified Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil.
- Make friends with vitamin C and hyaluronic acid
Want to get your glow back? Then hyaluronic acid and vitamin C is a must. Hyaluronic acid is a powerful humectant, which means it excels at retaining moisture. When used in skincare products like creams, masks or serums, it brings moisture to the surface of your skin, keeping skin continuously moisturised all day long. Hyaluronic acid is not only renowned for its ability to alleviate dry skin, it can also help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Win win!
As for vitamin C, it’s the ultimate do-all ingredient! A proven brightening agent, integrating this superstar into your morning and/or evening skincare routine will help to revive a lacklustre complexion and reduce the appearance of pigmentation developed over summer.
The biggest misconception and skincare mistake people make in winter is forgetting to apply sunscreen. Just because you can’t physically see the sun shining doesn’t mean it’s not quietly there wreaking havoc. If you’re hitting the slopes it’s especially important to take extra care as reflected rays from snow and ice are particularly damaging. If the cold weather has caused sudden sensitivity, invest in a gentle formula specifically formulated for the face.
Try: Cancer Council Face Day Wear Sunscreen 75ml, $7.99
The most defining characteristic of New Zealand’s chilly season has to be its unpredictability. It has a mind of its own so it’s no surprise your skin gets a bit confused. It’s essential to have a multi-purpose balm on hand at all times like the cult Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant. Whether it’s to protect from dry winds and central heating, soothe skin inflammation or irritation, heal chapped lips, or heal flakiness, an all-in-one balm is a must.
Try: Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Fragrance Free 50ml, $25.99
- Mask Monday
In case you still need convincing, masks are AHHH-MAZING for hydration. They can quickly infuse a concentrated, measured dose of ingredients into skin to address a laundry list of issues. From dryness and inflammation to acne and oil control, face masks can deliver almost any benefit that your skin needs.
- If your skin is red and irritated try the Korean Beauty Nicka K Facial Sheet Mask Avocado, which contains avocado that’s brimming with oleic and linoleic acid to restore moisture and collagen in the skin.
- If your skin is dry and flaky try the Cala Peel Off Gold Mask (another cult K-Beauty product!) $12.99, which contains collagen and honey to keep skin hydrated and firm. It also effectively removes dead skin cells, delivering a naturally radiant glow.
- Or, target specific areas with the formula it needs using the L'Oreal Pure Clay Mini Mask Kit 3pk, $7.99, which contains a purifying, detoxifying and glow mask.
Dryness, dullness, oily patches and blotchiness are all common in autumn and winter when the moisture is sucked from your skin. Stay away from powder formulations as they’ll dry your skin out even more. Instead, opt for liquid foundations with hydrating properties to help dryness and restore radiance. Thankfully, there are now heaps of amazing foundation formulas infused with skincare properties to combat these common winter woes. Don’t forget to apply first if your skin is dry to ensure the foundation blends seamlessly into the skin without flaking.
- Fake it till you make it
If this season is robbing you of your sparkle, there’s no shame in faking it. Stock up on makeup with illuminating and reflective ingredients to create the illusion of a healthy glow.
Try: W7 Glowcommotion Highlighter, $6.99 or mix a couple of drops of W7 Night Light Matte Highlighter & Illuminator, $7.99, into your daytime moisturiser for a subtle glow. For a deeper level of colour, all Bondi Sands products are suitable for the face – simply add a couple of pumps to your day or night cream and spread evenly onto your face.
Winter skincare tips and tricks
Here are a few game-changing hacks to ensure you get more out of your skincare during the winter months.
Hack #1 Get Wet
Moisturisers work best when they have some pre-existing moisture to lock in. Hence why there’s such thing as the 3-minute rule: always apply your moisturiser within three minutes of having a shower or bath. When there’s water on the skin, the bonds between skin cells become less rigid allowing active ingredients (and moisturiser) to travel deep into the skin. For maximum results, apply your moisturiser shortly after cleansing, before your skin is totally dry. And when we say wet, we mean damp. A face dripping with water is hardly going to encourage your moisturiser to stick around...
Hack #2 Scrub up
If you want your moisturiser to go the distance, you’ve got to give it a fighting chance. Instead of reaching for moisturiser at the sight of dry rough skin, you’d be better off using a gentle exfoliant to sweep away the dead skin cells and quenching the thirsty new skin cells beneath. It doesn’t need to be a fancy scrub, even something as simple as a damp washcloth will do!
Hack #3: Good vibrations
Using vibration to push moisture and nutrients into the skin is fast-catching on with makeup artists and influencers alike. Oscillating brushes made from silicone deeply cleanse and prep the skin for skincare ensuring you get more mileage out of your products. Either way, the tech is taking off for its ability to sculpt, lift and revitalise. Facial rollers are also an effective way to evenly distribute product while stimulating blood circulation through massage to reveal brighter skin.
Hack #4: Use a dehumidifier
Investing in a dehumidifier is not only great for your health and home, but your skin too! It will add moisture to dry winter air and help keep your skin hydrated. Run a humidifier in the rooms you spend the most time in, including your bedroom.
Hack #5: Seal vulnerable areas
The lips really cop the brunt of winter because they’re vulnerable to harsh weather. Always seal your lips before heading out with an effective ointment. We recommend also dabbing a bit underneath the nose, which also tends to get flaky, as well as around your cuticles.
Try: Vaseline Lip Therapy, $3.99
Hack #6: Beauty bathing is the real deal
Not only is a bath on a cold winter’s evening the best way to warm up and de-stress, they’re also great for skin. Leverage the powerful therapeutic properties of Epsom Salt, which are renowned for their ability to relieve tension and renew skin. Look for Epsom Salt soaks with skin-loving ingredients like coconut oil or charcoal.