Winter Skin Tips From Eucerin's Medical Manager
Eucerin's Medical Manager answers our questions on keeping skin healthy through winter
Why does the skin become drier in winter?
There are multiple causes for it, some that we do it ourselves and some that are environmental. The main thing, as it gets colder in the winter months, the air becomes drier and gets windy as well.
That constant blast of cold, dry air sucks the moisture out of our skin. But what it also starts to do to skin it starts to damage your skin barrier, which will actually lead to even further dry skin.
Could you explain in a bit more detail what the skin barrier is, and why it is so important?
So simplest terms your skin barrier is the top layer of the skin. When it's healthy and it's working as it should, it holds in the oils and the moisture within your skin. It also protects us from bacteria or anything else entering the skin as well. So it's a natural barrier that holds moisture in, and everything bad out.
Are there specific ingredients that we should be using to support the skin barrier?
You need two separate real groups of ingredients to help manage dry skin.
Firstly we need humectants, which are moisturising agents. Really famous ones are glycerin, hyaluronic acid and urea. Urea is part of the Natural Moisturising Factors which are produced naturally in your body to keep skin moisturised. There are 17 of them in total. They pull moisture into the skin, so the skin gets that big boost of hydration.
If your skin barrier is broken, that water is going to constantly be evaporating. So no matter how much you put it in, you're not really getting the full benefit. So that's when you need ingredients like ceramides, which help to lock and heal that skin barrier.
So natural moisturising factors glycerin and urea pull the moisture in and then ceramides (which are lipids), then lock the moisture in. Combine these two together and you've got the perfect treatment for dry skin.
What things beyond skincare that we can do to prevent dry skin, whether that's the food we're eating or anything else to help?
One of the main causes of external factors is the weather as it's changing, becoming drier and colder, but there are things that we do ourselves that can make our skin worse.
- The clothes we wear. We wear thicker, heavier clothes that will create more friction. We call it tight snow or jeans snow - when you take off your tights, or your jeans and get that snowy dandruff. That's because of all the friction from your clothing causing the dry skin to flake off. Wearing cotton next to the skin can help to reduce friction.
- Longer hot showers or hot baths. The hot water is going to be sucking out moisture from your skin. So you need to ensure you're putting that back. A lot of soaps people use will naturally strip out the oils and the moisture from the skin, which is another thing to be conscious of.
- Central heating. The hotter your fire in the living room, or the heating in your house, the more moisture will be lost from the skin.
What’s a winter skincare myth you would like to bust?
The main myth I always hear in winter is ‘drink more water’. Drinking more water is not going to have an effect on dry skin. Yes, it's important to stay hydrated and have your body functions working okay with the correct level of water, but drinking more cups of water will not change the flakiness, dryness of the skin. You will need to use a moisturising agent on top of the skin to support that.