With temperatures dropping across the country, many people will be spending more time indoors, keeping warm with artificial heating and hot baths. Add in the cold, outdoor weather and harsh winds experienced in the winter months, and the result is dry, damaged skin.
What causes skin dryness?
As winter approaches, people tend to use indoor heating, which reduces the humidity of the air and affects how much moisture is available for the skin. The harsh winter weather can also strip the skin of its natural, moisturising oils.
People also tend to take lengthy hot baths and showers during this time, which can strip skin’s natural oils, leading to dryness. The use of soaps and vigorous rubbing further contribute to this issue.
How does rewilding help?
Skin dryness depends upon the level of oil on the skin’s surface and the integrity of the skin’s barrier function. Good barrier function reduces the rate of Trans-epidermal Water Loss (TEWL), which is the rate at which water evaporates through the skin.
There are two types of dry skin – lipid dry and dehydrated. Understanding which of these is a concern will determine the type of skincare product used.
- Lipid dry skin: This has very little oil and tends to look dull. The skin may be rough and flaky, feeling quite taut after washing. Fine capillaries are common on lipid dry skin, and milia can appear on the cheek bone and eye areas, with fine lines presenting prematurely.
- Dehydrated skin: The skin is tight, shows fine lines and ages prematurely. This is the type of skin that reacts easily to climate extremes, such as in the winter months.
Unfortunately, some aspects of modern lifestyles have led to the disruption of the skin’s barrier function and oil levels, leaving the skin exposed in winter. A large part of the problem is not treating the skin’s microbial partners very well. Harsh foaming agents strip the microbes and natural oils (sebum) from the skin. Chemical-laden products with preservatives kill microbes too aggressively; and processed diets don’t feed the beneficial partners needed for a healthy skin and strong barrier. This has resulted in a rise of skin disorders such as eczema, acne, and dermatitis.
Rewilding is about getting this microbial balance back so that the skin’s microbiome can do what it has evolved to do
– protect the skin and body. Rewilding cuts out harmful chemicals, cuts down on product use, restores the
connection to nature and re-establishes this healthy balance.
How to rewild the skin this winter
Rewilding is a process that takes time, but there are number of steps that can be taken to restore the skin’s microbiome and tackle skin dryness.
- Take an omega-3 supplement with at least 600mg of long chain omega-3 fatty acids, or include beneficial oils like flaxseed oil, olive oil or avocado oil as part of a daily diet.
- Avoid a fat-free diet and include healthy lipids from seeds and nuts.
- Supplement with magnesium and zinc to support the skin’s Hyaluronic Acid production.
- Take a good quality oral probiotic and apply a probiotic skincare treatment that contains live strains of beneficial microbes. This improves the skin barrier and minimise water loss through the surface of the skin.
- Where possible, get around 15 minutes of uninterrupted, unexposed sun exposure per day. The production of Vitamin D has an underestimated effect on the skin.
- Avoid unnecessary or excessive cleansing of the skin, or the use of abrasive exfoliators. Rather use a gentle exfoliator once a week.
- Avoid using harsh surfactants or bar soap on the body or face, rather use a mild, pH balanced cleansing wash containing minimal or mild foaming agents.
- Use products containing Hyaluronic Acid for a dehydrated skin, and Shea Butter and/or Kalahari Melon Seed Oil for a lipid dry skin.
- Use a moisturiser with sufficient nourishment containing natural, nutritive oils as these can be absorbed into the skin, unlike petrochemical oils.
- Avoid artificial atmospheres and extreme temperatures where possible. If these are unavoidable, supplement the skin by spritzing with a hydrating mist throughout the day.
To tackle winter dryness, Esse advocates products and a skin routine that restore the skin’s natural sebum production, reducing reliance on occlusive oils that do not penetrate the skin and reduce sebum production. It’s worth going through a few days of slightly dry skin to break your skin’s reliance on these oils.