4 tips a dermatologist wants you to know about winter skincare

·Contributor
·4-min read

Dr. Shreya Andric is a dermatologist based in Sydney. She is passionate about skin health and her mission is to educate the public on how to care for their skin, and also clear up the vast amount of misinformation out there on this topic.

When not at work, Shreya is kept busy by her two young children and loves to spend time with family, friends and occasionally get to a pilates or boxing class!

While Dr. Andric has independently chosen the products that appear in this article, she does not receive revenue from the links. Some of the links may return revenue to Yahoo Lifestyle Australia.

A headshot of Dr Shreya Andric wearing a burgundy blouse
Dr Shreya Andric is a Sydney-based dermatologist on a mission to educate people on how to look after their skin. Photo: supplied.

As the weather cools, I have more and more people coming to see me with dry, scaly skin.

People are also finding that their usual skincare routines just aren’t cutting it and their skin is feeling more sensitive and irritated than usual.

Cooler temperatures and low humidity levels, combined with long, hot showers and soap-based products are responsible for this and can also cause flares of some pre-existing skin conditions.

Caring for winter skin

As tempting as it is to turn the heat up and linger in the shower for as long as possible, this is one of the worst things you can do for your skin.

Young woman applying sunscreen on her face in snowy mountains in winter, in Sierra Nevada, Granada, Spain. Female wearing winter clothes. (Young woman applying sunscreen on her face in snowy mountains in winter, in Sierra Nevada, Granada, Spain. Femal
Here's how to look after your skin during winter. Photo: Getty Images.

The hot water draws moisture out of the skin and this needs to be replaced with a moisturiser but is a step that is often skipped. I advise my patients with dry skin and eczema to have short (3-5 minute), cool showers using a soap-free wash and to apply a moisturiser top to toe as soon as they get out.

Moisturising your body while the skin is still damp from a shower or bath is a great way to keep skin hydrated as the moisturiser traps existing moisture in the skin.

When looking for a body moisturiser, you might choose something thicker that comes out of a tube or a tub, as a formulation coming through a pump is likely too thin. The Dermeze Treatment Cream is a great choice.

As we age, the skin all over does tend to become more dry. Using a regular moisturiser to strengthen the outer layer of your skin not only makes your skin feel more comfortable and less sensitive but it also reduces your risk of developing a skin infection.

Dermeze Treatment Cream 100g, $7.49 from Chemist Warehouse. Photo: Chemist Warehouse.
Dermeze Treatment Cream 100g, $7.49 from Chemist Warehouse. Photo: Chemist Warehouse.

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Facing the chill

When it comes to the skin on the face, lighter lotions may not be enough to adequately hydrate and protect your skin from cold, dry, windy conditions. Keep in mind that creams used for the body can also be used on the face so this could be an easy swap out for the winter months.

You may also consider reducing the frequency of application of products with active ingredients, such as alpha-hydroxy acids, beta-hydroxy acids or retinols as they can be more drying and irritating when combined with cold, dry air.

That being said, some moisturisers containing lactic acid can gently exfoliate dry, scaly skin, whilst maintaining skin hydration.

Dermal Therapy Lip Balm 10g, $5.49 from Chemist Warehouse. Photo: Chemist Warehouse.
Dermal Therapy Lip Balm 10g, $5.49 from Chemist Warehouse. Photo: Chemist Warehouse.

Whether it be for the face or the body, other ingredients to look out for include glycerin, lanolin, mineral oil, petrolatum and shea butter. Oil-based cleansers are another good option for winter as they clean the skin without stripping it of its natural oils.

Lips and hands are two of the first areas to show signs of dryness. I often recommend the Dermal brand lip balms as they are super hydrating without being sticky.

Neutrogena Norweigan Formula Hand Cream is my go-to for dry hands.

Neutrogena Norwegian Hand Cream 56g, $3.99 from Chemist Warehouse. Photo: Chemist Warehouse.
Neutrogena Norwegian Hand Cream 56g, $3.99 from Chemist Warehouse. Photo: Chemist Warehouse.

Advice for eczema and psoriasis

Skin conditions like psoriasis and atopic dermatitis (eczema) often flare in the cooler months. Phototherapy (or UVB light treatment) is a well-known treatment for psoriasis.

People often report that their psoriasis is better in summer and frequently attribute this to spending time in saltwater at the beach. It is more likely to be secondary to the incidental sun exposure they are receiving, which can suppress the inflammation at a cellular level.

Eczema is caused by a skin-barrier defect and this barrier is further compromised by wearing too many layers of clothing, taking long, hot baths or showers, or overheating with blankets/doonas/sitting close to heaters or the fireplace.

To minimise irritation, wear clothing made from natural, breathable fabrics like 100% cotton. Avoid having wool and synthetic fabrics close to the skin. If the air feels dry, a humidifier will also be helpful. You should also follow the tips above related to dry skin in general.

Is sunscreen needed in winter?

It is a common misconception that sunscreen is not required when it is overcast. Unfortunately, UVA is present year-round and is able to penetrate through the clouds.

For this reason, a sunscreen should be applied (and reapplied) to exposed areas (eg. face, ears, neck, hands) on a daily basis. Some sunscreens can be quite hydrating and are a great option for the winter months as they can be used instead of a moisturiser eg. UltraViolette Supreme Screen, QV face cream.

If you use a separate moisturiser to your sunscreen, remember that sunscreen should always be applied as the last step in your morning skincare regimen.

Ultra Violette Supreme Screen SPF 50+, $49 from Sephora. Photo: Sephora.
Ultra Violette Supreme Screen SPF 50+, $49 from Sephora. Photo: Sephora.

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