It’s a slippery slope when summer ends and kids go back to school. Before we know it Labor Day and Halloween have slipped by, fall fades to winter and we are deep in the holi-DAZE. Temperatures drop so you crank the heat in your car, house and office, you have a holiday gathering at least twice a week where you eat foods you normally don’t indulge in and you have more cocktails in a week than you normally do in a month. Of course your skin is dry, red and probably broken out! How is your skin supposed to keep up?
Because this conversation has been on repeat the last few weeks in my studio, I thought I’d share a few winter skin care tips I offer my clients to help them steer clear of (or dig their way out of) the winter skin doldrums:
Eat your water
Sure, drinking water is very important, but what we don’t realize is just how much of our water intake comes from a plate and not a glass! NBC News reports that as much as 20% of our intake comes from fruits and vegetables, which can be up to 90% water themselves. Simply drinking a bunch of water is like a passive flushing through the system - what goes in must come out, quickly. Forcing the body to extract the water from what we eat through digestion means it takes up residency longer and is therefore more beneficial to the body. Given that fresh fruits and veggies don’t get a lot of “plate time” during the cooler months and are generally replaced with sauce-drenched versions of themselves, I’m guessing we could all benefit from some crudités. So order the salad, it’s good for your waistline and your dehydrated skin!
Boost your barrier
Your skin has a big job to do and it’s made up of many layers that each have specific functions. One of the most important functions of the outermost layer of skin is to keep bad stuff (chemicals, irritants) out and good stuff (water and lipids) in - this is called the barrier function. Our skin depends on this barrier heavily to stay strong and healthy. Our environment, diet and lifestyle all seem to break down this barrier, which then contributes to any number of skin issues such as dehydration, dryness, aging and inflammation, to name a few. Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are a vital component of this lipid barrier and can be supplemented orally for an easy boost to your complexion. Is your skin struggling to get the barrier function job done? Make a quick call to your favorite doc for permission first but consider giving your skin an assist from the inside with some EFAs.
Layer your products
At the VERY least, toning and moisturizing should be standard steps taken after cleansing the face. During the winter, many believe that switching to a heavier moisturizer is always the answer to their skin woes, but I prefer to layer! Here’s the lineup I recommend to clients after cleansing: tone, serum, moisturizer/night moisturizer. Use a hydrating toner after cleansing to rebalance the the pH of your skin, provide some moisture and prep for the next important step - a hydrating serum. Serums are concentrated products formulated to penetrate deeply and target specific problems. Using a hydrating serum before your moisturizer ensures the delivery of effective ingredients deeper into the layers of skin. If you don’t use a serum, start NOW, it could be just the difference you need. Try using your night moisturizer as your day moisturizer to up the level of protection. It’s usually the right amount of extra moisture your skin needs without risking the introduction of a new product and its an easy switch. Don’t just spackle your skin with a heavy moisturizer and hope for the best, layer up for some real benefits!
Exfoliate your skin
Yes, it's basic, but too often forgotten. Layering products on your face without exfoliating is expensive and ineffective. Dead skin, oils and perspiration, build up on the surface of our skin dulling your complexion, clogging your pores and preventing your skin care products from doing the best job possible. Truly, exfoliation is important no matter the season, but may be even a tad more important when the seasonal odds are stacked against us. Let me clear though, exfoliation does not always mean scrubbing! Using scrubs on the face is one way to get rid of some flaky dry skin, but it’s strictly superficial and has the potential to cause other issues (irritation, inflammation and sensitivity) if overused or the source of exfoliation in the scrub is not ideal. My recommendation is to either increase the use of a chemical exfoliant or add one to your arsenal. Chemical exfoliants like lactic, glycolic, salicylic and mandelic, all work to break down or loosen the bonds between cells causing the skin to slough off and leaving behind a smooth, glowing complexion. Chemical (acid- or enzyme-based) exfoliation works below the surface of the skin creating longer lasting results and can provide benefits beyond simply exfoliation … anti-aging anyone?
Try one or all of these easy recommendations for happier winter skin. Hopefully they’ll keep you looking as Merry and Bright as you feel!
Chloé Amstutz is a licensed esthetician in California and Tennessee and the owner of NAKED: Skin & Wax, a unisex skincare and wax studio in Nashville, Tennessee. Chloé was previously an esthetics educator at the Aveda Institute in Nashville and a Regional Educator for a franchisee with multiple locations of European Wax Center in California. Prior to teaching and training roles, she specialized in full body speed waxing with hard wax. Additionally, Chloé is certified in dermaplaning, lash extensions and microneedling. She is active on Instagram where she shares her expertise with consumers and professionals alike.