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How to Deal with the Impact of Cold Weather on Our Skin

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Brrrr. It’s turned really chilly, hasn’t it? Since the beginning of December, the temperature has  dropped considerably, and some parts of the country, even as far south as Essex, have seen their first sprinklings of snow. 

But aside from turning the heating up and donning an extra layer, how is your skin faring? Cold, wet, icy, windy weather can play havoc with our skin, even if our skin is relatively ‘normal’ most days. Throw acne prone skin, dryness, sensitivities and skin conditions such as rosacea and eczema into the mix, and we can have some very stressed out skin indeed.

So this week, we’re looking at the impact of cold weather on our skin, what it can do and how we can combat the ill effects of wintry weather. 

Cold weather and dry skin

Imagine standing outside in the cold, wet or windy weather without wearing gloves. Your hands would feel pretty cold and uncomfortable, wouldn’t they? But that’s pretty much what we do to the skin on our faces on a daily basis when we go outside on a winters’ day. 

Aside from wearing a balaclava again like we did as a kid (although, more on those a bit later), or if we cover up for religious or cultural reasons, the skin on our faces is generally the most exposed skin on our body. 

Theeffects of cold weather can be quite extreme. The natural protective barrier properties of the skin can be stripped away. This can leave gaps in the barrier, where water can escape from, in a process called trans epidermal water loss, or TEWL. This is a fancy name for dehydration, and dehydrated skin becomes dry and irritated and can become itchy and flakey. 

Cold weather conditions are also responsible for dry, cracked and bleeding lips.

The answer is to ensure that you’re using a moisturiser that whilst it’s not too heavy on the skin, will provide enough moisture to withstand the dryness. OurSide Kick Day Cream is ideal and is suitable for all skin types from dry to oily, acne prone to sensitive. 

You can also treat your skin and protect it against dehydration when cleansing. Use a gentle, plant based cream cleanser such as ourClean Slate Cream Cleanser. It contains cocoa and shea butters that gently lift dirt and makeup from the surface of the skin without damaging its natural barriers. 

When cleansing, also be mindful not to use water that’s too hot and to gently pat your skin dry rather than rubbing it too harshly. 

Winter flare ups of eczema and rosacea 

Skin that’s prone to eczema, rosacea and other sensitive skin conditions will tend to be even more contrary when exposed to harsh winds and cold or rainy weather. This is because your skin already has a barrier that’s compromised andnot working as well as it should

The cold weather will make things worse, causing even more redness, itching, irritation and inflammation. 

You can help matters by using our enriched day time moisturiser as above. Plus you can add an extra layer of protection by using a serum designed to support the needs of sensitive skin, such as ourStrength Training Serum

Try also keeping your bath or shower water tepid, as extreme heat after exposure to the cold elements outside can cause your already sensitive skin to become stressed out even further. 

The effects of central heating

Central heating might feel great when you get inside from a cold commute or day working outside. But artificially heated homes and offices tend to have very dry air. The effects of this will mean that your dehydrated skin can’t draw moisture from the air and will become even more dehydrated. 

It will help to have a humidifier in the rooms you spend the most time in. These are designed to be filled with water and sit on your radiators. As the water warms up, it diffuses into the air, creating more moisture. A wet towel (or wet washing that needs to be dried) placed on your radiators will have the same effect. 

At night, our skin can afford a little extra in the form of a heavier moisturiser. OurMidnight Feast Night Cream is just like our day cream, gentle and effective. But it’s a little heavier and ideal for giving your skin an overnight hydration boost. 

The impact of wearing more layers closer to our face

So about those balaclavas, and whilst we’re there, the scarves, hoods and coat collars we have pulled up over our chin and the hats we have pulled down on our heads. They’re all there to keep us warm and stop the biting chill of the air or the harsh, wet winds affecting our face. 

Whilst this is a good thing, as like the gloves we mentioned earlier, all these layers help to protect the skin on our faces from the wintery elements. There’s also a risk that these layers of clothing could also be having a negative effect on our skin. 

This could be for various reasons, including an allergy or sensitivity to the fabrics these items of clothing tend to be made of, such as wool. This can cause itching, irritation and redness. 

Then there’s the risk that if worn over our faces, in particular over our mouths and noses, for long periods of time then this can prevent the skin from breathing properly. There can also be a sweat issue arising, or trapped moisture from our breath. This is similar to themaskne you might be suffering - acne spots caused by wearing your Covid mask or face covering. 

Finally, thesoap powder we use to wash all these items might also be causing our skin to stress out. If we’re covering our faces to protect ourselves from the elements with a fabric that’s been washed in something that we’re sensitive to, then it could cause skin problems and flare ups. 

The answer here is to know your skin. Use gentle washing powders and fabric conditioners if you know your skin is quite sensitive. Also take steps to try to strike the difficult balance from protecting your skin from the elements with scarves etc, and not being outside too long so that you don’t develop rashes and irritation from your face coverings. 

If you do, make sure you’re treating your skin to the right skin care products such as ours, in order to try to mitigate the effects of having to be outside. 


Hannah de Gruchy BSc(Hons)

About Author

Hannah de Gruchy is a freelancer writer who specialises in health and wellness. She has a keen interest in the biology of skin and loves using her words to help separate the real science of skincare from the pseudoscience of some skincare brands. Hannah has a degree in Human Biology and many years’ experience working in laboratories around London. Using this experience, Hannah enjoys turning complex science into interesting, engaging and easy to digest pieces to read. In her spare time, Hannah runs, practices yoga and loves cooking plant based foods.

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