Calgary is known for its dry climate and the long winter months. As we slowly approach the short days of the season we should consider if our skin care routine is ready to take on below zero temperatures. Here are some thoughts on how to protect your delicate skin this winter.
During the winter months the frosty days can cause a decrease in the blood flow and the activity of our sebaceous glands, which maintains the integrity of the skin barrier, is greatly reduced leaving our skin feeling dry and dehydrated. As the temperature dips down, our skin tends to lose its elasticity and tone, making our skin more susceptible to wrinkles, especially areas where the skin is thinner and more sensitive. We need to change our routine and incorporate different products that provide more nourishment and maximum protection.
The two main products that are worth changing from season to season are the day cream and eye cream. Your winter creams should be more nourishing and emollient. The correct product should form a “covering” that protects against the cold, wind and, because of the Chinooks we experience in Calgary, a variation in temperature. The moisturizer should be chosen based on your skin type: for example, a light weight moisturizers can be used by oily skin and creams that are emollient and rich in oils are ideal for dry skin. Key ingredients to look for in products for dry skin are occlusive ingredients that protect the skin – for example, emollients such as oils, butters and esters. Cocoa Butter is a great ingredient that can help lock in moisture in the skin and the most ideal oils are the ones that contain Gamma Linolenic Acids; examples include Rice Oil, Evening Primrose and Rose Hip Oil. For oily skin, light astringent oils are also important such as Grape Seed Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil and butters, such as Mango Butter or Shea Butter. Other important ingredients that are ideal for the cold winter months are Organic Hydrosols that improve hydration and calm the skin.
In an ideal world, for skin to feel its best, we should theoretically live in a climate that is 40% to 60% humidity, however, since Calgary is nowhere near this ideal range we should consider the next best thing – humectants and moisturizers that help us feel hydrated. Consider products that contain Glycerin, Hyaluronic Acid and Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B5). Once applied, humectants have the great ability to attract moisture from the atmosphere, but if the atmosphere is too dry, they can also have the opposite effect. This phenomenon can also occur when we move from the outdoors, where the temperature is below zero, to indoors, where it’s cozy and warm. The best remedy to keep the humectants working, are Misters and Splashes. These can be inexpensive ways to keep you hydrated and moisturized the whole day.
It is also important to keep up with your regular cleansing routine year round. An exfoliating cleanser can be beneficial to remove dirt and debris, but it can be overused and affect the pH of your skin. Toners are specifically designed for daily use, providing a deep cleanse while maintaining and regulating your skin’s pH. This will allow your serums and moisturizers to penetrate deeper, providing more nourishment for your skin.
One common myth about hydration during the winter season is the use of oils. Some of us prefer to apply some type of pure oil, instead of a regular hydrating moisturizer however, you might be missing out. Oils might provide small levels of anti-oxidants, vitamins or a moisturizing factor (depending on the type) but it does not compare to the extremely high complex delivery systems found in creams. These systems combine the use of active ingredients (ingredients for the purpose of a cream –hydrating, lifting, anti-wrinkle, etc) with minerals, vitamins, hydrosol and extracts that make the use of creams far more superior then any use of oil alone.
Don’t forget, our lifestyle, the food we eat, the hours we sleep and amount of water we drink, will greatly influence the health of our largest organ – our skin. All of these will leave an imprint, so we must try to understand our skin type, and the best ingredients to incorporate in the products we use.