The temperature is starting to dip; the chill in the air and the brown-tinged leaves can only mean one thing – winter is coming. Not to sound all Game of Thrones, but cold weather, coupled with icy wind and indoor heat can often spell disaster for skin health.
Not to bore you with the science but there’s such a thing called Transepidermal Water Loss and this really refers to the way in which moisture is sapped from the upper layers of our skin. Climatic factors such as cold and wind heighten this process and the effect on our skin is further exacerbated by constant temperature fluctuations when you move between warm and cold environments.
Black skin, in particular, suffers in cold weather. Research tells us that black skin is more prone to the drying effects of winter weather because we loose moisture at a fast rate than other ethnicities. So it’s not uncommon for me to see an influx of clients experiencing dry skin conditions like eczema or severely scaly, cracking skin in the winter. Sometimes clients also complain of skin that feels super dry, tight and itchy. All symptoms of no or low moisture in the skin.
But you don’t have to live with parched skin this winter; here are my top tips to give ashy skin the boot.
1. Firstly, take a look at your skincare routine
Solutions can be as simple as swapping your products round or adding something new in. What is your cleanser doing? With skin experiencing a bit more dryness, your usual cleanser may be a bit too stripping and you need to swap to a more nourishing option. The new daily use Cerave Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser (£12.50) has amino acids that attract and hold water in the skin so over time it feel more hydrated and bouncy.
2. Maintaining the strength of the skin barrier strong is also very important
A weak barrier is like leaving your front door open, like a thief, the wind will steal all your moisture leaving your skin resembling a dried prune. For skin that is feeling raw and inflamed, one round of Osmosis Epidermal Rescue Serum (£116.50) is my time-tested trick. I should warn you, it’s an acquired smell, so just concentrate on the wonders its doing to help build a protective wall around your skin cells.
3. Concentrate on layering hydration in the skin
If you’re used to waiting for every layer of skincare to dry, you need to stop that habit now. Move swiftly through your routine, adding layer over layer onto slightly damp skin. This will also helps to lock in more moisture into the skin.
4. If skin is particularly dry, then using a Hyaluronic Acid before moisturiser is a good idea
This hall of fame ingredient which the body also naturally produces helps to regulate moisture within your skin cells and just one gram can hold up to six litres of water making it particularly useful for dry skin. What’s more, it’s suitable for all skin types. I love La Roche Posay Hyalu B5 Hyaluronic Acid Serum (£38), I’ve used it for years on all manner of dry patches, on both my face and body, slotted in just before moisturiser for the best outcome.
5. Lastly, moisturiser
If you’re used to slapping on anything you can get your hands on, it’s time to get serious and invest in a well formulated moisturiser. Dry skin is more prone to discolouration, so you look out for star ingredients like ceramides, cholesterol, glycerin, peptides and triglycerides. Your skin loves them and some are already bio-available so you’re literally just feeding your skin more of what it knows and needs. I currently have Lancome Hydra Zen Anti Stress Glow Liquid Moisturiser (£39) on heavy rotation. Being the moisturiser snob I sometimes am, I underestimated how comforting it would be, it’s deceptively light with a very milky texture but tough on hydration. Its job is to restore calm (quickly!) to skin battered by the elements using a combination of amino acids, soothing aloe vera and hyaluronic acid.
If you’re concerned about using richer moisturiser in winter months, but yet still need to cocoon your skin, then check out Murad Clarifying Oil-Free Water Gel (£38), targeted to oily and acne prone skin types to hydrate without clogging or triggering a breakout. Salicylicand Hyaluronic Acid are key components as is the ginger root extract which act as a soothing tonic for the skin.
Let’s not forget the rest of your body because I’m sure you are also familiar with the itch you get when you peel of your tights on a winters evening. Skin so parched and devoid of moisture you can hear it crunch!
As much as I love the pure Ijebu Shea Butter my mother in law ships over from Nigeria for me, I have fallen in love with the ease of Emi & Ben Shea Butter Moisturiser (£14.95) – it is expertly whipped and melts into the skin with minimum effort. The benefits of Shea are boundless – fatty acids and vitamins condition and soften the skin for maximum comfort and if like me you dislike the raw scent that natural shea butter sometimes has, you’ll be glad to know that this range is delicately fragranced with essential oils.
For more luxe, I’ve been adding a generous pump of Afro Hair and Skin Co Awaken Reviving Body Treatment Oil (£21.50) which is rich in omegas to restore healthy skin. The citrus elements revive the senses and even the most lacklustre skin. Furthermore, I predict these two products from two powerhouse Black beauty entrepreneurs will do the most to keep our bodies moisturised and snatched this winter.