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I’m a nurse – here’s how the icy cold snap is ruining your skin and 8 tips to save it

IT’S beginning to feel a lot like the depths of winter.

But it’s not just snowflakes that are forecast, especially when it comes to our skin – cold weather, low humidity and a lack of sunlight can wreak havoc on it.

There’s more to protecting your skin in winter than staying warm

And when you throw indoor heating into the mix it often means winter leaves our skin dry, flaky and itchy.

Cold weather and dryness can trigger conditions including xerosis (dry skin), eczema, cold sores and can even cause spot breakouts.

But, that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve a winter glow.

Nurse, skincare expert and founder of Fortheloveofskin Leah Turner says it’s all about taking precautions to protect your skin against winter’s harshness.

Leah says: “Our skin is our biggest organ and it protects us from the outside world, so it’s no surprise that it takes a bit of a battering when winter hits.

“Keeping our skin healthy and happy is not just about improving its appearance.

“The more we support our skin to stay healthy and hydrated the better it can do its essential tasks.

“You might not realise it, but our skin protects the body from viruses and bacteria, keeps us warm, protects against ultraviolet rays and cell damage as well as helping us react to dangers like extreme temperature and pain.

“The winter months are a key time to protect our skin to keep it looking healthy so it can keep us healthy in return.”

Here, Leah reveals the eight key ways to protect your skin from winter skin conditions…

1. Don’t over-cleanse

Washing our skin is important for our overall hygiene and keeping bacteria at bay, but over cleansing can do us more harm than good, especially in the winter.

Too much cleansing with strong soaps actually removes our skin’s natural moisture, leaving it exposed to the cold weather with little natural protection.

I advise using a creamy, soap-free cleanser or cleansing balm as these are great way of keeping you clean without stripping away the skin’s natural protective barrier.

Two products I always recommend for winter cleansing are Kate Somerville’s Goat Milk Cleanser and Elemis’s Pro Collagen Cleansing Balm.

2. Use SPF moisturiser daily

Make sure you are using a moisturiser with an SPF every day – yes, we still need to protect our skin from UV rays in the winter.

Giving our skin a daily helping hand with extra moisture helps it fight dryness and put up a stronger protective barrier.

It’s also not uncommon to need a richer, thicker moisturiser in the colder months, as cold weather and central heating can really dry the skin out.

I recommend Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream SPF30.

3. Supplement your skin

Supplements are a great way of supporting your general health and wellbeing and when we support our health and immunity, we also support our skin.

When we are healthy on the inside it impacts the look and condition of our skin on the outside.

In the winter months our natural vitamin D production decreases as we have less exposure to the sun thanks to shorter days and less powerful UV rays.

The NHS advises that everyone should take a daily vitamin D supplement and this can help keep skin happier and healthier.

4. Hydration is key

We all know the importance of drinking enough water, but during winter it can be harder to keep those levels of hydration up because we often don’t feel as thirsty when it’s chilly outside.

Our body needs just as much fluid in the winter as the summer to function effectively and our skin relies on our internal hydration to keep itself healthy and well moisturised.

Try and drink water regularly – aiming for eight glasses a day – and if you struggle with cold water, drink hot herbal teas, or hot water with a slice of lemon or orange. 

You’ll likely see that glow return to your skin when your hydration improves.

5. Look after your lips

Our lips are part of the skin that makes up our face and can be one of the first areas of the body to suffer from dryness in the winter as it is an area that is often moist.

Lip balm is one of my winter skincare essentials and I advise that you use it daily – whether your lips are feeling dry or not.

Putting a protective layer of lip balm on before you leave the house helps to prevent the skin on our lips from drying out and protects us from cold sores, soreness and infection.

Vaseline keeps lips soft and moisturised while also directly protecting it from cold temperatures.

6. Avoid hot showers

How tempting is it to turn up the heat in your bath or shower when it’s cold outside?

While it might feel nice, the problem with hot water is the damage it can cause to the skin’s natural barrier.

Regular damage to the skin’s barrier can leave skin feeling scaly and itchy and can trigger an eczema flare-up.

Cooler water is just as effective as hot water at removing germs and is much less irritating to your skin, so turn down the temperature slightly and don’t spend longer in warm water than you need to.

If you are unsure if your water temperature is too hot, a good test is looking to see if the water causes your skin to turn red; if it does, then it’s too hot.

7. Give your skin some beauty sleep

After a long day keeping you protected from the cold and all the bacteria and germs you come into contact with, sleep is when our skin recovers.

While we sleep our skin rebuilds its collagen supply and repairs any damage, so during the winter it’s key to encourage this process by making sure we get a full seven to nine hours a night.

It’s also worth giving skin a helping hand by using an overnight mask.

I suggest Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Mask and allowing it to sink into the skin all night to help restore and replenish with an added boost of hydration.

8. Eat more

A balanced diet is crucial for our health and this includes for the look and condition of our skin.

The nutrients we get from food feed our skin so it’s important we keep them topped up.

I always advise people that the more the merrier when it comes to vegetables during winter.

The more variety we have in our diet, the more variety of vitamins and nutrients, the happier and healthier our guts.

Mushrooms, greens (broccoli, spinach, kale) and tomatoes are my favourites for protecting skin during the winter.

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