Winterize your skin

October 11, 2021

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Cold weather can impact the skin directly and indirectly. 

Cold weather itself tends to be drier with lower humidity. This strips away natural oils from your skin. I tell my patients to not think of their skin as smooth like a wall- it’s more like a cobblestone street. Cold weather tends to break apart the mortar that holds the bricks (our skin cells) together. This makes them more susceptible to irritation and sensitivities from the environment.

Indirectly, heating and hot showers can also serve to dry out the skin even more. 

As our skin loses its natural oils and hydration in colder months, we need to replace these with hydrating products. During summer months, there is more humidity in the air that makes it less necessary to apply products with this added moisture. In fact, some people may find using these in the summer may make their skin feel greasy or oily. 

If you think about the cobblestone street analogy- if the mortar between the bricks is dissolving then we need to fill in those areas with the right products! 

Please note that dry skin is not a cosmetic issue- it has significant medical consequences.  

Xerosis can trigger itching which can in turn triggers a breakdown in skin which can ultimately lead to infection or cellulitis.  Recognizing that the skin plays a role as our largest organ protecting us from the environment makes it essential to keep intact.  It’s like the walls of your house- if you let cracks develop in the walls of your home it’s just a matter of time before it is impacted by the environment.

Ingredients in products are so important because as many people note, using the wrong products could result in clogged pores or acne. Using more anti acne products will only dry your skin out further. Before you know it, you find yourself in a vicious cycle of treating hydration by causing acne then drying out the acne and then looking for more hydration and repeating again and again! 

An  important word to find on your products is ‘non-comedogenic’. This means non-pore clogging. This word isn’t perfect. To make this claim, testing is performed over 21 days with cyanoacrylate biopsies before and after counting the number of open comedones (blackheads) before and after use of the product. If there is no increase then it’s labeled noncomedogenic. This testing does not consider closed comedones or whiteheads, pus bumps or inflammation.
Look for oil free products to prevent acne flares when looking for added moisture.

Hyaluronate or Hyaluronic Acid is often found in some hydrating makeup products as they draw moisture to the skin.

Squalene is another hydrating ingredient that is a very effective emollient. 

Many people think serums when they are looking for added hydration. It is really important to understand what serums are and how they work before turning to these products.
Serums are lightweight products that do not have the thickness or greasiness of a cream or lotion. Creams or lotions are heavier because they are designed to adhere to the skin to help maintain hydration. 
Serums usually have other active ingredients in them designed to address a particular concern. For example, discoloration and anti-aging are the most common. These active ingredients are more concentrated and will therefore be a bit more potent. 
Because these active ingredients are so concentrated they can be a bit more irritating for some skin types depending on the active ingredients.
Most who consider serums will use particular products to address specific concerns. Most often these are used on the face because the products are much costlier and can be cost inhibitive to use on larger surface areas like the body. 

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Serums can be be used alone for people with oily skin and feel that they prefer the lightweight feel of these products. However, by applying a serum first and traditional moisturizer on top this can help make the serum more effective and reduce any associated irritation. 
Many serums are targeting the one of the most frustrating cosmetic concerns- tissue paper like wrinkling of the skin. They often contain peptides and alpha hydroxy acids with claims to firm and tighten the skin. These are ideally used with a moisturizer as most people that complain of these concerns rarely complain about oily skin in these areas- it’s usually excessively dry!
There are also  serums that  target excessively dry skin without leaving behind a greasy feel. These are the ones I like the most because one of the biggest barriers to using moisturizers in the first place is how greasy they can feel. These body serums have concentrated hydrating ingredients that are not irritating. It’s true that it will make them even more potent to use with a moisturizer in the winter. In these cases, when it comes to makeup- it may be worth using a serum, moisturizer and opting for facial powders instead of full coverage foundations to avoid excessively drying out the skin. 

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