What Causes Dry Skin in the Winter and What You Can Do to Help it
As we get into the colder months, you may be more aware that your skin is starting to feel dry. Dry skin is caused by a lack of moisture, with water either being lost in excess, or if your skin is not able to hold enough water to prevent your skin going dry.
When the air is dry it affects our skin and makes it more prone to dryness. As temperature levels drop, the air outside is drier due to humidity levels decreasing, pair this with warming up our homes with radiators and heaters, means that our skin is going to lose moisture. Both of these cause our skin to dry out much more than during the spring and summer months.
The stratum corneum is the most outer layer of our skin and is the one you can see and feel. It is made up of around 25-30 layers of flat, dead keratinized cells, which shed naturally after 14 days. This layer provides our body a barrier to the environment. This layer also contains our natural moisturizing factor (NMF) which helps to keep our skin moisturized. However, with a dry environment this layer starts to dry out, and causes the skin’s natural barrier to get damaged, leading to an increase in loss of our natural moisture. Want to know more about the layers of the skin? Read our blog here.
The drying out of the skin leads to skin feeling itchy, sensitive and sore.
So, what can you do to help your skin?
Quite simply… moisturize! If you do moisturize all year round but find that your skin still dries out in the winter, use a thicker cream to help seal in moisture on your skin which will help it stay hydrated.
There are also some other things you can do to make sure that you don’t dry out your skin any further:
- When you shower, use warm water not hot and try not to stay in for too long. Long, hot showers or baths can strip your skin of its protective oils and increases the chance of your skin going dry
- Avoid products which contain high amounts of alcohol as it can cause and exacerbate dry skin
- Avoid harsh cleansers. Anything too harsh can also impact your skin barrier and increase risk of dryness. Cleansers that foam usually contain drying ingredients which impact your skin’s barrier. Instead aim to use cleansers which are hydrating and gentler on your skin
- Avoid over exfoliating, especially with physical exfoliants. Use a physical exfoliant once a week, and use chemical exfoliants to help remove dead skin cells
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration also affects how your skin looks. During the winter months you may find that you don’t drink as much water. We should be aiming to get around 6-8 glasses of water a day (or over 1.2L), the best way to check how hydrated you are is to look at your urine, the darker it is the more dehydrated you are!
- Healthy, balanced diet – something that is always said, but nutrition can play a role in how your skin feels and look. Read our blog on foods to feed your skin here
- Drink alcohol in moderation. Alcohol is a diuretic and as we lose water it causes the skin to dry out, it can also increase facial redness, and skin inflammation and irritation
As we get older, skin dryness becomes much more common. This is caused by skin thinning and not being able to retain moisture as well, plus a reduction in natural oils that are produced in the skin. In postmenopausal women, there is a drop in hormones which play a role in the stimulation of oil.
With dry skin, if you start to notice issues like eczema, or bleeding from dry cracked skin and over the counter treatments aren’t working it is best to talk to your doctor.
About Lucy Bee Limited
Any information provided by us is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. We always recommend referring your health queries to a qualified medical practitioner. Members of the Lucy Bee team can only offer their best advice.
Lucy Bee is a lifestyle brand selling skincare and soap products all completely free from palm oil and with minimal use of plastic. Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, organic, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and empowering people to make informed choices and select quality, natural products for their skin.
Single-use cotton pads end up in landfill, whereas reusable can be used time and time again. Find out the impact single use can have on our planet
Both physical and chemical exfoliation help to remove dead skin cells, but what is the difference?