How to prevent dry, itchy skin during winter

Winter is here and with that comes cold weather, low humidity and windy days. All of which can leave your skin feeling parched. Many people struggle to keep their skin hydrated during winter. This is likely due to many things, including changes in temperature and use of heating systems indoors. 

In this article, we’ll cover what causes dry skin, why winter can make it worse, and share our top tips for preventing dehydrated skin during the colder months. But first, how can you tell your skin is in need of hydration? 

These are the symptoms of dry skin.

  • A feeling of tightness
  • Itchiness
  • Redness
  • Grey or ashy skin
  • Mild to severe skin flaking and peeling
  • Scaling
  • Deep skin cracks that can bleed

What causes dry skin?

Dry, dehydrated skin occurs when the skin’s rate of water loss increases. This can happen when the ‘glue’ holding your skin cells together is loosened by factors like sun damage, over-exfoliating or underlying medical conditions.

  • Genetics: Whilst dry skin can be caused temporarily by weather conditions like a colder season, some suffer from dry, dehydrated skin all their life due to genetics. Those who deal with eczema or psoriasis are also prone to dry skin. 
  • Harsh ingredients and products: Using harsh ingredients like Sodium Lauryl Sulphate and denatured alcohol (often found in cleansing and astringent products), ends up stripping your skin of too much of its natural oils (sebum) that keep it lubricated and protected. That’s why your face will feel uncomfortably clean, tight and dry after using a very harsh, foaming cleanser. 
  • Hot water: Another cause of dry skin is quite a common one, and that’s taking long, hot showers or baths. Dermatologists agree that hot water can worsen skin inflammation and cause damage to the keratinocytes (skin cells that produce Keratin) sitting on the top layer of your skin, known as the epidermis. When Keratinocytes are destroyed, your skin’s ability to keep in moisture worsens. Hot water also strips your skin of sebum, making it harder for your skin to lubricate itself.
  • Seasonal changes: Additionally, the weather can be a big contributor to dry skin and you might find your skin dryness changing depending on the climate you’re in. The outdoor temperature, humidity and wind all affect how your skin fairs and how good it is at keeping in moisture.

Why is skin drier in the winter?

Wintertime poses the common problem of dryness because of its low humidity and temperature, which strip the skin of its hydration. When the air outside is cold and dry, the water molecules in your skin evaporate more quickly. 

Windy, snowy conditions also snatch water from the skin, leaving it feeling dry, sensitive and irritated. 

Additionally, your sebaceous glands, which produce the sebum moisturising your skin, don’t work as effectively during the colder months, increasing your risk of dryness.

How to keep your skin hydrated and healthy during winter:

  1. Apply a hydrating serum to damp skin for an extra moisture boost. Try doing this after you’ve cleansed your face or applied a hydrating mist. 
  2. Apply a nourishing moisturiser to damp skin regularly throughout the day and especially at night. We recommend our Radiance Renewal Pro-vitamin moisturiser, which is specially formulated with nature's best ingredients. It contains Borage seed oil, Sea Buckthorn oil, Rosehip oil & Sunflower oil, which are packed full of vitamins and Omega fatty acids that improve the quality of your complexion. It also contains Hyaluronic acid and Glycerine, which provide instant hydration, and lock moisture into the surface layers of your skin to prevent dryness
  3. Invest in a humidifier to increase the water content of the air. This will reduce the rate of water loss from your skin.
  4. Avoid long, hot showers. Use warm water instead to avoid damaging your skin cells and further drying out your skin.
  5. Use a cleansing balm or oil at night as the first and second steps of your double cleansing routine. A cleansing balm, like our fruit enzyme-powered Radiance Renewal cleansing balm, leaves the skin more nourished and effortlessly removes dirt, grime and makeup. It’s the perfect product for dull, dehydrated skin, and promotes radiant skin without leaving the skin dry, stripped of moisture or irritated.
  6. Exfoliate regularly to avoid dead skin building up. Skin that's regularly exfoliated will absorb moisturisers better. Just ensure you don’t overdo it, as over-exfoliation increases water loss in the skin. We recommend exfoliating no more than twice a week.
  7. Don't go out during the hours of 10 am and 4 pm without sun protection. That is the time when the sun is at its hottest. Excessive sun exposure can dry out the skin and cause photodamage, which results in premature skin ageing.

And there we have it! Dry skin can be a pain, but there are plenty of ways of looking after it that return it to a healthier state.