Even with the best skin care routine in place, a cold snap can really throw skin out of balance. Editor Jane Garton looks at natural ways to help you keep the glow right through to spring.
The impact of winter on your skin
Cold biting winter winds won’t do your complexion any favours. And when it comes to skin, things aren’t much better indoors either. Central heating, heavier duvets and closed windows can all deplete your skin’s natural moisture levels. The result? Skin starts to look dry and patchy. But the good news is there is plenty of natural ways to restore your natural glow.
Tweak your diet
A diet rich in oil will keep skin well hydrated, so up your intake by including more oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna on your weekly menu.
All are full of ‘good’ fats known as essential fatty acids (EFAs), which can calm inflammation and keep skin moisturised. Aim to eat oily fish at least twice a week to see and feel the benefits. If you can’t stand the taste of fish or are vegan, try plant sources of omega-3s – flaxseeds, rapeseed oil, chia seeds or walnuts are all good options.
Next, add plenty of citrus fruits, berries, kiwi fruit peppers, tomatoes and dark green leafy veg to your menu. All are rich in vitamin C, which is essential for making collagen – a key part of the skin’s support network. Finally, don’t forget nuts, seeds, eggs, wheat germ, vegetable oils and avocados for their vitamin E content, which helps promote skin healing.
Water is essential for glowing winter skin, so aim to drink at least two litres a day. Without sufficient fluid intake your body can’t carry away toxins or deliver nutrients to skin cells. Avoid caffeine found in tea, coffee and cola-type drinks, which can be dehydrating. Go for herbal teas instead. And keep alcohol intake to a minimum. Too much can deplete vitamin stores and rob the skin of essential fatty acids.
A balanced diet should provide all the vitamins and minerals you need to keep skin looking young and healthy, but with only 25% of UK adults eating the recommended 5 portions of fruit and vegetables day this can be hard to do. Taking a multivitamin is a good place to start. Ideally, it should include the antioxidant nutrients (vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene) and minerals (including zinc, selenium, manganese and copper).
Turn down the heat
Too much heat can be just as damaging to skin as the harsher winter elements. Hot radiators, for example, mean there is less moisture in the air, which can zap moisture from skin. The answer is to turn down the temperature control and place bowls of cold water under radiators to help retain moisture in the air.
When it comes to moisturising dry winter skin ‘more moisturising more often’ is key to keeping it well hydrated and protected against the harsher elements that prevail at this time of year. The richer moisturisers that contain active ingredients come into their own at this time of year. Vitamin E can stimulate skin renewal, while anti-inflammatory agents such as aloe vera can help protect skin against the cold.
Smart skincare moves
When washing your face avoid extremes of temperature – splashing your face with cold water after a hot shower for example can redden skin.
Use a rich conditioning lip balm and reapply throughout the day to moisturise, protect and heal.
Watch the sun
Before going out, apply sunscreen with at least SPF15 every day: UVA rays (which cause skin aging) and UVB rays (which cause burning) effect our skin throughout the year – the sun’s rays can be just as damaging to skin in the winter as in the summer.
Tuck up early
Lack of sleep can take its toll on skin causing dark under eye circles so make sure to get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
Stub it out
If you smoke, take steps to reduce the amount you smoke and ideally get support to give up altogether – your skin will really thank you for it.