The freeze/thaw effect
A few years ago, a dermatologist told me that fall was usually his busiest time of the year: “Everyone comes in with dry, sensitive, sore skin, and they get worried because they see this change for the worse almost overnight,” he explained. The deterioration is down to the sudden drop in temperature outside and a turning up of the central heating inside. The constant swapping between the two makes our skin surface freeze and then thaw, breaking up the protective barrier, which means moisture gets out while potential irritants get in. Even a favorite product, like a foundation, can suddenly cause a reaction because it’s getting into the skin rather than sitting on it. It’s a case, he explained, not of the wrong product, but the right product in the wrong place.
Working from the inside is key when it comes to our skin. With the cell membranes made up of essential fatty acids, taking omega-3 daily maintains a stronger skin barrier from the get-go, which equals more hydrated skin – if your skin is constantly dry, this can be a game changer. A daily dose of probiotics has also proved to be great for all-round healthy skin, as an irritated gut leads to red, reactive skin and even acne.
It seems mundane, but the experts see cleansing as the key step in our daily beauty regimen – overdo it and you’ll deplete the barrier, triggering a cascade of problems. During cold weather, an oil, balm or milk work best, and if using water, make sure it’s warm (not hot) – Lixirskin Electrogel Cleanser is an excellent all-rounder for every skin type. Whether you’re doing one or two cleanses, use a light touch and remember: it’s about removing makeup and daily dirt, not the top layer of your skin.
The good news is that no matter how dramatic the change, it’s only temporary – to stop any lasting issues, you need to soothe, calm and restore the skin. Steer clear of potently active products (especially retinols), and choose creams that can replace the barrier, if only for the short-term – La Mer is my skin savior right now. Estée Lauder’s brilliant Advanced Night Repair is packed with soothing anti-inflammatories, as is Dr. Barbara Sturm’s excellent Calming Serum. Sleeping in a hydrating face mask is a simple but speedy way to settle down reactive skin; for an oilier skin type, choose something deeply nourishing like Dr Sebagh Rose de Vie Hydrating Mask, while for dry skin, Estée Lauder’s Re-Nutriv Ultimate Diamond Thermal Mask uses a blend of natural oils to seriously soften, soothe and plump all skin types.
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