Beauty’s most-asked: why does winter make my skin so dry?

To answer your most burning beauty questions, we ask the world’s experts to share their knowledge. A board-certified dermatologist with over two decades of expertize in customizing regimens for her patients, DR. ROSE INGLETON explains why the change in the seasons can affect your skin for the worse, leaving it dry and itchy, and shares her advice on how to calm your complexion and restore a healthy glow


Why is my skin suddenly dry and itchy?

“When the seasons change and the weather gets colder, the humidity levels in the air drop, which makes our skin drier. And it can affect everyone – all skin types, ages and ethnicities. But while the changes can be swift and impactful – when the temperature drops, it doesn’t take long for your skin to react – it’s not your skin that’s the problem, it’s the environment. Plus, it’s exacerbated by our behavior because we turn on the central heating and that sucks all the moisture out of the skin. People never seem to complain about this particular skin dryness in summer when they have air conditioning, but I’m asked about it every year when the temperature cools.”

How do I know it is caused by the weather and not something I’m using?

“When it’s the result of the weather, the common signs are that skin feels itchy and prickly, and people say their skin feels much drier. You may even see a very fine powdery look to your skin’s surface, even if you don’t feel anything. If you see or feel a difference, then you want to step in and make basic changes; if you do nothing to help it, your skin gets worse, and just that bit of itching can turn into eczema and then you need a dermatologist.”

What can I do about it?

“When the seasons change, you should change what you use on your skin. A foamy cleanser tends to be a bit more drying, and while it’s fantastic for summer, when the humidity drops you need to switch to a good cleanser that is soap-free and is hydrating. Look for a lotion, cream or balm texture (depending on which you like), rather than a gel formula. I always recommend a hydrating serum – my Rose MD Skin Calming Booster is perfect for this as it has a lot of hyaluronic acid in it, which we know really binds moisture in the skin, but without being heavy or clogging the pores. I don’t commonly recommend oils as some can be clogging, but I do like a good face cream. You need a cream to ‘seal in’ the serum – something that again hydrates and is richer but without being heavy. Check the ingredient listing for ceramides, hyaluronic acid and glycerine, and make sure they are high up in the list. For oily or acne-prone skin you can use a cream primarily built on hyaluronic acid, so it’s hydrating but not heavy. And stay away from coconut oil – it’s in a lot of products but it does not hydrate; nut oils are great in your diet but not so good on your skin.”

What changes do I make to my regimen?

“The skin can look drab if you don’t exfoliate but, at this time of year, an exfoliating cleanser is a better way to go that your usual skin scrub. If you like an acid peel, then lactic acid is more hydrating, or choose a PHA formula as it will be less drying. I love a good nourishing cream mask and recommend using it overnight – the longer it’s on, the better the benefits. Sheet masks are great when you are in hurry, but an overnight cream mask will always be better.”

The skin on my body also gets really dry – what should I do?

“Keep exfoliating it in winter and use a body wash that has added hydration. When you step out of the bath or shower, pat your skin with a towel, so it’s left slightly damp, not dry, and then use a body oil followed by a body lotion or cream. An oil is like your primer – it’s not enough for dry skin if just used on its own. And don’t bathe in really hot water – it’s so drying on your skin.”


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