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Today we're talking winter skin. Here in the UK, despite having a pretty nice September, over the past couple of weeks we've felt the cold set in! These are my tips and swaps for keeping your face happy as things turn frosty...
Cleanse with caution
Cleansing in the morning is not essential for everyone every single day. As the temperature drops, just try to be mindful and responsive with your skin. I'm sure first thing we're all a little bit tired and it's easy to go into autopilot: shower, brush teeth, cleanser... But I'd honestly recommend looking at your skin, seeing how it feels and making a judgement call each day as to whether you need a cleanser or if a splash of water will do the trick. When I do want to cleanse in the morning during the winter months, I just haven't found anything that I love for my skin as much as the Skingredients PreProbiotic Cleanse* | £26 | full review. This is a gorgeous cream cleanser that you can actually apply to damp skin to get a lighter, lotion texture if that's your preference. It's formulated with some lovely ingredients like PHAs (which we'll get onto in a bit more depth shortly), fatty cetearyl alcohol and prebiotics and probiotics to promote a healthy skin barrier.
You should still double cleanse in the evening to remove makeup, sunscreen and the grime of the day without the need for something really harsh and stripping. As an everyday first cleanse, the Ordinary's Squalane Cleanser* | £13.90 (supersize) | full review | is great for me. It removes the sort of makeup I wear day-to-day and any sunscreen. Squalane is a lovely skin-similar plant oil and this formula emulsifies effortlessly with water. Then I would go back in with something like the Skingredients for a super-gentle, non-stripping cleansing routine.
Turn the temperature down
I know this is hard! We all love that toasty feeling of waking up in the morning with the timer set so the radiators are blasting out the heat half an hour before our alarm goes off. And that extra-long, hot shower you can't tear yourself away from. However, if you're skin is feeling dehydrated and dry as we all collectively find out if the boiler still works; quite possibly this is the issue. Of course, you need to be comfortable, it's just about being mindful - which I'm sure we all will be given the situation with energy companies this year! I'm sure no one is out here sitting in a t-shirt, feeling a bit chilly and deciding to turn the heating on, but it's just about making sure you're comfortable without excessive heat.
Cool down the shower to a medium temperature instead of as hot as you can handle and try to be fairly quick because - although we're focusing on facial skincare today - I personally have a super-dry body and this can help that too. Another thing I sometimes do is apply my creamy cleanser or a face mask to my skin before hopping in the shower to prevent the transepidermal water loss that occurs in the heat and steam of the shower.
Pack in the ceramides
Ceramides are a fundamental part of the skin barrier but cold weather and harsh winds can really compromise this equilibrium, leading to a dry, itchy feel. Using a ceramide cream can really help moisturise and soothe the skin, as well as helping it to better retain moisture. I'm currently loving the COSRX Balancium Comfort Ceramide Cream* | £31.99 | full review. It provides all of these benefits alongside a buttery, rich, deep-moisturising texture that never feels greasy.
Layer hydration like clothing
When I start putting on a top, then a sweater and then a jumper, a scarf and a coat; I start doing the same on my face! Although I'll generally go for my Vitamin C in the AM and retinoid in the PM, I don't force myself to power through when my skin just doesn't want it. If I'm feeling sensitive, I prefer to drop the actives and layer on lots of hydrating goodness instead, topping it off with moisturiser and sunscreen. That's it! At the moment I'm really loving layering the I'm From Rice Toner | £26 (15% off with code JASMINETALKSBEAUTY (affiliate code and link)) | full review coming soon | with niacinamide to help boost the skin barrier and also soothing rice extracts, underneath the Curel Moisture Facial Milk* | £17.50 | full review | which has calming, moisturising ingredients like allantoin and squalane. Anything with a bit of weight and milkiness to it is great and I layer in order of thickness, kind of like I do with my clothes!
Occlusion is your friend
I'm sure oily-skinned people in particular enjoy an oil-free moisturiser during the summer. Now is not the time for that! Most of these formulas contain humectants to draw water into the skin, but not softening and smoothing emollients or occlusives, which lock hydration in. During the hotter months, when you're sweating and possibly breaking out a bit more, you probably don't want to trap that against your skin. However, when things are dry and you've layered on your hydration; you absolutely want to do that to lock everything in and prevent water loss through the skin (this is particularly important if you're in a dry, cold environment).
The CosRX is an amazing moisturiser but there are also some other amazing products for when your skin is feeling sensitive or damaged. If your skin is in total meltdown and is dry, chapped and sensitive, the La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Balm | £7.50 | full review | is just amazing. It really soothes and calms things with cica and the texture means you can wear this during the daytime, even under makeup and it will seal in the moisture so your skin can heal. If you prefer something oil-based for dry patches, I love using the REN Evercalm Overnight Recovery Balm* | £42 | full review. I use this overnight but also if I'm heading outdoors for a winter walk; I'll apply it to areas I want to protect from the cold like around my nose and my mouth, where I can get sensitive. It locks in hydration and softens dry skin. Whichever of these works for you; keep something like this on-hand if your skin reacts to weather.
If I want an all-over barrier recovery product (rather than spot-treatments), I reach for the Zelens Power D* | £95 | full review. This is a super-light oil and - if my skin is suffering - I'll just use this and moisturiser in the AM (+ mineral sunscreen) and the PM. Vitamin D3 is great for the skin barrier, plus we have replenishing squalane, Vitamin F, avocado oil and more. I sometimes reach for this when I can just feel my skin is a little more sensitive and I want to steer it off that course! It's great to have something like this in your collection that can pull things back and help the skin barrier recover.
Gentle and mindful exfoliation
I'm never an advocate of incessant exfoliation, but definitely be careful with it in the winter. Whilst that dry skin is something you naturally want to exfoliate off, you can end up causing more irritation and dryness if you do too much. I recommend swapping stronger stuff like glycolic acid for something nice and gentle like the Medik8 Press & Glow PHA Tonic with Enzyme Activator* | £25 | full review. It will remove surface dead skin cells without the risk of compromising your skin barrier and PHAs also have hydrating properties.
Consider oil based actives
You might reach for an oil-serum for extra hydration and nourishment during the winter, but you can actually get lots of oil-based actives these days that not only pack in the moisture but offer a gentle route to getting results for sensitive winter skin. As the most potentially-irritating and drying active in your routine, I definitely recommend doing this for retinoids. Last winter I loved using my PSA Skin Midnight Courage Rosehip & Bakuchiol Retinol Night Oil | £37. This contains a granactive retinoid, which is a little gentler than some other options on the market with lots of nourishing oils to go alongside it.
What are you doing to switch up your skincare routine this winter?