Beauty & Style

5 Things An Aesthetic Practitioner Wants You To Know About Caring For Winter Skin

Not all seasons are created equal.

While winter is good for some things (hot chocolate and snuggly mornings), it’s universally regarded as the worst time of year for skin. Why? When temperatures drop, so too does humidity, which can lead to dryness, flakiness and dehydration.

We spoke to aesthetic practitioner Sarah Hudson to find out how to navigate the perils of the season and her advice for keeping skin glowing all year round.

1. Don’t skip the cleanser

If you have dry, sensitive skin, it can be tempting to assume skipping your morning cleanse might help. But, as Hudson explains, cleansing in the a.m. is important because it removes the overnight skin cells on the surface of the skin. “If the skin is not cleaned effectively, it will inhibit a facial oil or moisturiser from penetrating and protecting the skin,” she says. “Cleansing morning, as well as evening, will assist with the rebalancing and strengthening of the skin’s natural barrier.”

Hudson recommends finding a face wash that contains glycerin, vitamin E and hyaluronic acid to preserve the skin’s delicate barrier, and avoid using hot water at all costs.

“Hot water strips the skins of its natural oils, so I recommend using lukewarm water to start your morning cleanse. Follow this with a well-formulated cleanser to balance the skin’s natural pH (5.5).”

Woman wearing skincare mask

2. You should keep exfoliating

While you might think exfoliation can be harsh on skin during the winter months, Hudson says missing this step in your routine is one of the biggest skincare mistakes you can make. “By removing drying flakes of skin cells, healthy new moist cells are encouraged to come to the surface of the skin, leaving it silky smooth,” she explains. “Moisturisers will be able to penetrate more effectively, leaving the skin feeling more hydrated and not as tight. I recommend my clients gently exfoliate 2-3 times a week during winter.”

However, Hudson says you should change up your exfoliant as soon as the cold weather hits: “During winter, opt for an enzyme exfoliation rather than a scrub or AHA exfoliant. Enzymes gobble up dead skin, leaving the skin silky smooth. If you have dry, sensitive skin, a scrub or AHA exfoliant will only exacerbate sensitivity.”

3. The moisturiser you choose, matters

Not all moisturisers are created equal, and much like an exfoliant, this skincare must-have needs to be upgraded as soon as winter hits. While a light lotion might have been enough in the summer months, skin needs an extra dose of hydration when things cool down. Firstly though, you need to determine whether your skin is dry, dehydrated and sensitive, or oily and dehydrated.

“If it’s dry, dehydrated and sensitive, look for a richer, cream moisturiser with ceramides and nourishing oils that will mimic natural skin oils,” says Hudson. “With oily / acne-prone, dehydrated skin, you should still apply moisturiser. But opt for a lightweight lotion with hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid.

“It sounds counter-intuitive, but I suggest choosing a moisturiser that doesn’t have an in-built SPF. It is better to layer products than use an over-complicated formulation trying to do too many things.”

It’s equally as important to remember the body moisturiser: “Twice daily is key to keep the skin nourished and protected,” says Hudson. “It is really important to keep the skin nourished during winter and not allow the skin to dry out, especially as you age. The drier, thinner and finer the skin, the more it is prone to tearing, and cuts won’t heal.”

Woman moisturising hands

4. Don’t forget your hands

Hands are one of the first parts of the body to show signs of ageing, so it pays to give them special attention, particularly during winter.

“Apply hand cream immediately after every wash, or whenever they are feeling dry,” says Hudson. You may also want to consider applying a hand mask twice weekly (you can even use a face mask) for 20 minutes. Gently rinse, then rub the mask residue into your hands. If your hands are looking really bad, Hudson suggests applying a thick layer of hand cream before bed, then covering with cotton gloves to increase absorption. If your skin feels tight and dry, Hudson recommends using Vaseline Jelly, which hydrates and protects dry limbs and hands.

Vaseline forms a waterproof barrier when applied to the skin, preventing skin moisture from escaping and bacteria entering the skin that can lead to irritation when the skin is chaffed and cracked,” Hudson explains. “It’s also fragrance-free, making it perfect for sensitive skin. Fragrance in a product will exacerbate the sensitivity of dry skin, leading to redness and irritation.”

Woman applying sunscreen

5. Sunscreen is still paramount

Yes, UV rays diminish significantly in winter, but you should still apply a stand-alone sunscreen on a daily basis to protect your skin from the elements, as well as any blue light from your phone and computer. According to the Cancer Council, UV rays above level 3 can affect skin – and much of Australia reaches this level during the middle of the day, even in winter.

“During winter, this is often a product that is forgotten!” says Hudson. “Giving ample protection from UVA/UVB rays, a well-formulated sunscreen will contain nourishing and protective ingredients.”

Brought to you by Vaseline

Related stories