Nourish or Neglect?

Winter is round the corner and most of us have already turned the heating on.  If you have, you are probably noticing the drying effect it is having on your skin… and it will only get worse as we reach for more layers of clothes.

Colder air outside, warmer air inside, lack of ventilation all contribute to dehydrated skin and a compromised skin barrier.  Among the tell-tale signs are a dull complexion, excess redness due to the blood vessels reacting to extremes of temperature, chapped lips, and itchiness in the lower legs.

Dry skin on the face and body is aggravated by harsh products such as soap and detergent, and hot water, yet we long to lie in a hot bath when we get in from the cold.  We are more likely to reach for a cup of tea or coffee as we seek comfort on a wintery night in front of the TV, or a nice glass of wine as the thought of going out to meet friends doesn’t appeal so much.  All of the aforementioned are horribly dehydrating and we compound the weather/central heating problem further by indulging in them.

The benefits of AHAs (alphahydroxy acids) in skin care were introduced to us by Drs Van Scott and Yu in the early 1970s, but more recently a new generation of PHAs (polyhydroxy acids) were found to have similar effects on the skin and have the additional benefit of providing humectant and moisturisation properties.  PHAs such as gluconolactone and lactobionic acid are potent antioxidants that scavenge harmful free radicals as well as strengthen the skin’s protective barrier.

It is widely accepted that a build up of dry flaky skin is preventing the normal function of the skin barrier and while it may sound radical, further exfoliation can help.  When Drs Van Scott and Yu carried out their original research it was to treat dry-skin conditions, which they did very successfully by proving that AHAs maintain the skin’s proper moisture level.

My tips for achieving a winter glow

The two renowned scientists I spoke of earlier are still developing products for NeoStrata and Exuviance and so it is that I turn to the experts for my recommendation.

  • Replace whatever you wash your face with for a cleanser containing AHAs or PHAs.  These can be found in NeoStrata’s Restore or Resurface ranges.
  • The other product I don’t think winter skin should be without, is a daytime protection cream, also containing AHAs or PHAs, and a sunscreen.
  • If you will do nothing else then wash your face at night with cleanser.  If you like a night cream then I suggest Restore’s Ultra Moisturising Face Cream.
  • For the body I recommend Exuviance Hydrating Hand and Body Lotion.
  • If you are looking to actively improve the barrier function of your skin then I would consider a course of chemical peels (chemical exfoliation) for the best looking winter skin you could hope for.

My male clients actively express a dislike for parabens as they apparently mimic oestrogen and lower testosterone; I’m no expert on this but am happy to confirm the products I recommend are paraben free.

Additional Tips

Being hydrated on the inside is a must throughout the year to give you that inner glow, warm water with a slice of lemon or a herbal tea will do the same job as a glass of water.

Switching the heating off at night will go a long way to helping sufferers of inflammatory skin conditions.

Up your intake of Omega 3 by eating more oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines and herring.

Increase the antioxidants in your diet by including more greens.

If your body suffers from winter aches and pains consider taking Aneva Derma, a collagen supplement that delivers collagen wherever it is needed in the body, that will also improve skin, hair, nails and a whole host of other conditions (for me personally, itchy skin).