• The Escape Issue

    Winter Skin 101

    The Escape Issue
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    Winter Skin 101

    If you happen to live in the hemisphere that is currently facing away from sun you’ve likely noticed two things: 1. it’s cold, perhaps terrifyingly so, and 2. your skin has a new personality. I can’t help you with the weather outside except by suggesting a large scarf and warm alcoholic drinks. But I can give you some tips on how to switch your skincare routine from summer to winter – specifically how not to look like a lizard while the sun is hibernating. It’s simply a matter of ramping up your moisturizing with a side of exfoliation.

    Before you start treating dry skin it’s important to keep in mind that there’s a big difference between dry and dehydrated skin. Both dry and dehydrated skin can be flaky, itchy, sensitive, tight, and dull. But dry skin has to do with your skin type – your skin feels dry all over, including hands and scalp, because it lacks sebum (oil). You’ll need oil-based moisturizers to remedy the dryness, especially in the winter. Dehydrated skin is a bodily condition and means that your skin lacks water. It can affect anyone regardless of skin type if your water intake is low, if your diet isn’t right, or a range of other reasons that you should ask a health professional about. Your skin may feel both dry and oily and be susceptible to breakouts depending on diet or environmental changes or health. If your skin is dehydrated you’ll want to steer towards water-based moisturizers. As a rule of thumb, you should be drinking plenty of water because skin is the body’s largest organ and needs water.

    Now let’s get started. Winter weather can be most unforgiving when it comes to the delicate skin on your face because the cold sucks away moisture, possibly leaving you with chapped skin. Add to that the artificial heat often pumped into your home and/or work place, sucking away what moisture is left. This might leave you with dry patches, peeling or dull skin. 

    The first thing I do when I notice a dip in temperatures is to adjust my day and night routines by ditching lighter, gel-textured moisturizers in favor of creamy, rich moisturizers. Key ingredients I include are hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and low comedogenic oils and butters.

    A photo posted by Alesia✨ (@alesia_renee) on

    A photo posted by Alesia✨ (@alesia_renee) on

    If your skin is in crisis and flakes are plentiful, it’s wise to exfoliate the dullness away first and then follow up with moisturizing. Because your skin is hyper sensitive at the moment, choose a gentle physical (manual) exfoliator with non-abrasive materials (such as scrubs and peeling gels) or my preferred method, chemical exfoliators (most effectively found in serums and some masks). Exfoliating is an important step in the fight against lizard skin, a technical term. Once the dead skin has been shown its way out, the skincare products you use, including serums and other treatments, are able to penetrate deeper into the new surface of your skin and freshly excavated pores.

    My current favorite in the world of physical exfoliators is the Dr.G Brightening Peeling Gel because it gently sloughs the dead skin off your face. As for a chemical exfoliant the Herbivore Blue Tansy AHA + BHA Resurfacing Clarity Mask wins. It’s loaded with natural ingredients like blue tansy, AHAs (which I discuss in detail here), and enzymes so there’s no aggressive contact with your skin yet, after 10 to 20 minutes, your glow returns. 



    After properly exfoliating, we’re primed for moisturizing. As I said before, there are a few key ingredients to look for in cold-weather products.

    • Hyaluronic acid is naturally found in the skin. It is a hydrator that also protects skin from environmental nastiness and also soothes irritated skin when applied topically. Hada Labo Tokyo Anti Aging Hydrator is a miracle worker and can be applied throughout the day over makeup. If you’d like to incorporate a hyaluronic acid serum into your routine, do test out The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5. $6.80 to change your life.
    • Ceramide is a lipid (natural fat) found within the skin that attracts and holds moisture. I like to slather on a ceramide-heavy cream at night to repair whatever damage my skin may have incurred throughout the day, but also as protection from the heat being pumped into my home. Dr Jart’s ceramidin line is incredible, but I’m especially fond of the Ceramidin Cream. It’s a rich yet lightweight cream that leaves your skin silky without shininess so you can use it day or night.
    • Low comedogenic oils and butters are the easiest and perhaps most cost-effective options. You can use these individually in place of a store-bought moisturizer or even whip some shea butter into a nice DIY moisturizer with the help of a few drops of argan oil. If you don’t mind looking dewey, you can also follow up with whatever moisturizer you’re currently using, perhaps leftover from days of warmer weather, with a few drops of oil to increase moisture. I personally enjoy looking like I just exited a sauna so I highly recommend it if you’re looking for frugal alternatives. I’m currently obsessed with the Pixi By Petra Rose Oil Blend.

    Are you wondering what to do for your body? Good, because it’s time to talk about winter ashiness. It’s relentless, but thankfully the skin on your body isn’t as sensitive as the skin on your face so you can be just as aggressive and don’t have to worry much about non-comedogenic ingredients (unless you have sensitive or acne-prone skin). The steps for the body are essentially the same: exfoliate and then moisturize. Here are some tips and suggestions:

    • Physical exfoliation is clutch. You can find scrubs in all price ranges that are just as effective. Some of my personal favorites are Herbivore Coco Rose Body Polish, Lush Cup ‘o Coffee and Dermadoctor KP Duty (this one, my holy grail, includes chemical exfoliants that boosts its efficiency).
    • For maximum exfoliation, apply the scrub to dry skin and gently rub it into your driest areas like knees, elbows, ankles and work the scrub to the rest of your body. Hop in the shower and rinse the scrub off with warm water. It’s crucial not to overdo it with hot showers in the winter because the heat will just further suck the moisture out of your skin. I don’t know the science behind this but my theory is that dry skin is easier to deal with before water hydrates dry patches and flakes.
    • While damp, apply a heavy oil such as jojoba oil or almond oil to your skin for maximum retention. It will feel amazing and your skin will stay supple longer. If your skin can’t handle heavy oils, try the Neutrogena Light Sesame Formula Body Oil. You can use any oil of your choice, of course.
    • If you’re really not playing around, moisturize damp skin with a body butter and follow up with an oil to lock in moisture. I’m partial to the Kiehl’s Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter because it leaves you smelling like a pastry without being obnoxiously saccharine. Of course there’s always the tried and true shea butter or cocoa butter. These two are especially effective if you’re looking for natural ingredients to combat eczema.
    • Do not neglect your décolleté, chest, tummy and bum when moisturizing. Spread the love.

    If there’s ever a time to be excessive about moisturizing it’s during the winter months. Don’t be afraid to whip out a smorgasbord of oils and lotions at work. The only people who will judge you for leaving your home looking like a butterball turkey are folks who don’t know the joys of supple elbows. Go forth and moisturize.

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