As a skincare professional, I’m often asked if we should adjust our skincare routines in winter, especially by those of you with sensitive, acne prone skin. In most parts of the country, the answer is yes. Cold weather outside means lower humidity levels, and heated air inside can be stale and extremely dry. Neither of these conditions are optimal for healthy, vibrant skin.
What does your skin crave most in winter? Moisture!
Sensitive, acne prone skin is no exception to that, but it does bring its own set of challenges. Many acne-fighting products are already drying to your skin, so the added stress of cold dry winter air just makes matters worse. Flare ups, irritation, and breakouts are common complaints.
Adjusting to the Cold
It may seem counterintuitive, as oil seems like the main culprit when it comes to breakouts, but the dryness of winter can actually cause an extra build up of dry, dead skin cells. The skin will try to compensate for the lack of moisture by producing extra oil, and the extra oil and dead skin cells will form tiny micro-comedones that trap acne-causing bacteria under the surface where breakouts start.
So, when we haul out the sweaters and scarves, it’s an excellent time to stock up on a few new skincare tools. Now is also the time to check the ingredients of the products you have on hand. Some products just make matters worse in winter.
These are at the top of my list of basic ingredients that may be hiding in your cleansers, body soaps, and lotions that you’ll want to avoid:
- Alcohol – this is found in many astringents. While it strips away natural oils, it can be too much in Winter. This is a good time to switch to an alcohol-free toner instead.
- Fragrances – these can be irritating to sensitive skin. Switch to minimally scented or naturally scented products to keep skin calm and soothed.
- Petrolatum – this ingredient seals the skin, but the risk here is that it will keep what little moisture is in the air out, while trapping oil and dirt under the surface.
Overall, the winter is a perfect time to simplify your routine. Gentle ingredients are best for now, so avoid harsh cleansers, abrasive exfoliants, and choose products with the fewest ingredients.
And while I have your attention, drink plenty of water and don’t skimp on sun safety, even when it’s cold outside! You’ll thank me later.
The name of the game in winter, especially when it comes to acne prone skin, is moisture. So, now’s the time to step up your moisturizing game and get comfortable with the fact that oil is not necessarily the enemy right now.
Stripping away your skin’s natural oils can backfire and cause excess production and pore clogging. Internal supplements like flaxseed oil or other omega-3 fatty acids can help to balance out your skin’s oil production and reduce inflammation. Flaxseed oil is something of a wonder-ingredient in skincare right now, both as a topical ingredient and a supplement, and it’s known for its rehydrating effects. Perfect timing.
Ready for the science? Flaxseed oil contains the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). The body converts ALA into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are the same omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil.
Since acne prone skin is especially deficient in essential fatty acids, another oil I love is jojoba oil. Jojoba oil is a lovely ingredient that won’t leave a residue on your skin. Besides fatty acids, it contains vitamin-E properties that soothe and repair.
On the oil-free moisturizing front, I also recommend oil-free hyaluronic acid-based products especially in winter. Hyaluronic acid is another one of my go-to ingredients that will act to pull moisture into the skin without clogging pores.
Your Winter Routine
Now let’s recap, and put this together into a super-simple replenishing skincare routine for the winter months.
Cleanse without exfoliants or harsh scrubs. I recommend a gentle gel or cream cleanser with few ingredients. This will take care of dirt and residue from stale over-heated air and won’t dry out your skin and create flakiness.
Use a hydrating toner without alcohol. Enriching ingredients like cranberry extract and jojoba oil contain essential fatty acids and antioxidants as well. Calming ingredients such as green tea extract is a bonus.
Use a water-based hyaluronic moisture boost serum. This humectant will help lock moisture into the skin and replenish the cells.
Nourish the skin and replace needed essential fatty acids with a vitamin packed moisturizer containing healing oils such as argan. Nix the artificial fragrances and look for nutrient-rich ingredients such as acerola cherry extract.
Bonuses: Be sure to get outdoors when you can as your skin can use the oxygen bath and a break from stale heated air. And whether you’re indoors or out, join me in upping the coziness factor this winter with a dose of hygge.
As always, stay warm and take good (skin)care!
Guest Author Bio: Alana Mitchell has been working in the beauty industry her whole life. She is the proud owner of Skincare by Alana and a licensed esthetician. Alana is honored to host product lines that are truly good for the skin, such as Image Skincare, Bioelements, Eminence Organics and 100 percent pure. She does not believe in products that have not been thoroughly tested and researched. Alana has just introduced her very own results-driven line, Alana Mitchell skincare, which has been her labor of love! She also frequently shares organic skincare tips on her skincare blog.