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Here in the UK we’ve had a surprisingly mild autumn so far but the cold weather has started to set in and I always recommend knowing which staples in your skincare routine you can rely on to be gentle, moisturising and skin-barrier-supporting during the colder months. These are mine...
I always bleat in about this but it’s true: cleansing is the most inherently stripping step in your skincare routine so it’s really important to choose the right formula. For me, a product that’s effective but always incredibly gentle is the Kate Somerville DeliKate Soothing Cleanser* | £38. This is water-based but has a slightly emulsion-like quality to it and it's completely non-foaming and free from fragrant ingredients. Fatty alcohol and cucumber oil moisturise and soften the skin, aloe is soothing, ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and it contains the healing peptide and ceramide complex used across the DeliKate line. You're going to hear a lot about ceramides in this post, as they're a component of your skin's lipid barrier, which can sometimes be compromised when you're exposed to harsh weather. This formula is gentle, non-stripping and contains a lot to help your skin through the colder months.
I also can't get enough of the Laneige Cream Skin Toner & Moisturiser | £26.50. This is a milky toner but if your skin is feeling sensitive and you have more of an oily skin type: you can definitely just use this and a gentle sunscreen as your morning routine. It's that moisturising! The body this product has will also act as a welcome extra layer of moisture for dry skin types when used as a toner step. This is a really simple formula with skin-softening meadowfoam seed oil, Vitamin E (a fat-soluble antioxidant, protecting the skin from free radical damage) and glycerin (a humectant to draw hydration into the skin).
Every single year, I pick up a bottle of the Niod's Modulating Glucosides | £25. This is a light milky serum that still feels pretty unique to the market, even years after its launch. For this formula, Niod took plant-based antioxidants and removed the potentially-irritating components by just using the soothing elements of these extracts. So, you're getting a very gentle hit of antioxidant power (which is great in a morning routine, in particular) and some amazing anti-inflammatory benefits. This is one of the best serums on the market for irritation and redness, particularly if its as a result of inflammation. There are also lipids in here to counteract flaky, dry patches of skin. You can use this as and when needed but I personally like to have it in my routine as a precautionary measure to keep my skin balanced and happy.
Another amped-up antioxidant is the Zelens Power E Vitamin E Concentrate* | £90. Vitamin E - as I mentioned - is oil-soluble and feels nice and replenishing on the skin. It's a great ingredient but there are often products marketed as Vitamin E when they only contain a small amount of a Vitamin E ester. This combines the pure form with three derivatives to really ensure you're getting the maximum benefit possible in a light emulsion serum. This is packed full of lipids to moisturise and soften the skin, alongside squalane - a skin-similar plant oil. Sodium PCA and glycerin draw hydration into the skin and there are plenty of moisturising plant oils in the mix to give dry, dull winter skin that surface softness. I personally like to layer this with my stronger actives, such as my retinoid or chemical exfoliants, as it just balances everything out and ensures the edge is taken off them.
Next, I have a product that's finally available in the UK: the Skin Fix Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Cream | £52. This is a really good alternative to a much more expensive and famous product on the market, plus has the added benefit of skin-restoring peptides. It brings together the three components of your skin's lipid barrier: ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids. Topping up your natural supplies of this holy trinity via topical skincare can help improve barrier function and ensure your skin stays strong no matter what the colder months throw at it. I love that this product has a lighter quality to it; it's nourishing (containing ingredients like shea butter) but is easily absorbed by my skin and works both for the AM (including under makeup) and the PM. It's soothing, nourishing and does the background work your skin needs when it's under stress.
The REN Evercalm Overnight Recovery Balm* | £45 | can be seen as a little like a solid-to-oil that can be used as and where you need that extra bit of nourishment. I personally like to use it around my mouth and on my nose, where my skin tends to get very dry during the winter. This is the only product in this post that does contain some oils and botanicals that could be irritating to some people, but it works so well for my skin and I do follow a number of sensitive skincare creators who really enjoy this product. One little tub of this can get me through an entire winter used every night and it never fails to give my skin that extra kick of softness and nourishment.
Lastly is a product that works when everything else fails: the La Roche-Posay Cicaplast B5 Baume | £9. This is for when my skin is already upset or sometimes I apply it preemptively if I have to go out in extreme weather like snow. It's a cream-balm formulated with soothing and hydrating panthenol and the active component of the cica plant extract, which has the power to soothe irritation and calm redness. There are also occlusives in here to really trap in the hydration. This is what I put on areas of skin that really can't handle anything else! For example: if it's cold, if I'm under the weather and I've been blowing my nose a lot and it's red, raw and peeling then this helps to both heal and protect the area. My bathroom cabinet will never be without this emergency essential!
What are your go-to products for bracing your skin against the cold weather?