I can’t speak for the rest of the country, but Cape Town lives in constant denial of winter.
Drive along Camps Bay any morning of the week, at any time of the year, and there will scantily clad, impossibly toned women trotting along the coast.
Despite their best efforts for an eternal summer, the sad fact of the matter is; it’s getting colder, and dare I say the ‘W’ word has arrived (sadly no rain, but they cold, yes). But what does this mean for your skin and body care routine? Does it REALLY need to be switched up in winter? Do you honestly need an SPF when it’s cloudy? I asked two experts; Dr Karen Koch, a specialist Dermatologist in Parktown, Johannesburg and Dr Judey, a biomedical scientist and co-founder of Biomedical Emporium for their expert opinions on the matter.
How does cooler weather affect my skin? Dr Judey says, “Generally the air is less moist during winter then summer. As humans we also expose our skin to more extremities such as being outside and exposed to the cold, and then indoors being exposed to heaters etc. Our bodies homeostatic control is thus in overdrive and demands more energy to reach a state of equilibrium.” “This is why our skins need more gentle care during the winter months,” adds Dr Karen.
Should I switch formulas? Both doctors agree that not everyone has to switch formulas, unless you are prone to very dry skin or rosacea. “If you’re having problems with your skin, try and wear less makeup, as this will allow the skin to breathe and better balance itself.” says Dr Judey
Any products I should add in winter? A gentle exfoliator used a few times a week will help keep your skin healthy,” says Dr Karen. “If you feel you need to, switch to a richer night cream to hydrate and nourish your skin over night.” Dr Judey adds that if you aren’t keen on exfoliators, you could try a peel once a month to slough away dead skin cells. But make sure to follow with hydrating face masks, preferably ones containing hyaluronic acid. She explains, “Hydrating serums, masks and creams that contain hyaluronic acid and vitamin E are the best at keeping the skin as moist as possible, which will enhance and maintain the elasticity as well as the skin’s tensile strength. Ample moisturisation (any time of the year), at least twice a day is required. Products with high anti-oxidant activity such as Vitamin A, B, C and E will assist to enhance the skin’s barrier function as well as promoting healthy skin cell turnover rates.
Don’t let products containing AHA’s such as lactic acid and glycolic acid scare you, as these will assist in dead skin cell removal as well as enhancing optimal collagen contraction that will boost and maintain the skin’s hydration levels. Do a patch test on your arm before using if you are worried about a reaction.
Any cooler weather skin care tips? Unsurprisingly, both doctors stressed the need for daily sun protection application, even in the colder months. Remember that UVA radiation passes through clouds and windows! If you have dry skin, Dr Karen suggests using a cream formula rather than a lotion or emulsion, as it will be more comfortable on the skin.
And finally here are Dr Karen’s body care tips for winter:
Lip balm is a must have in winter! There are several good bands out there, so find one that works for you.
Be careful about soaking in long hot baths. As delightful as it may feel – prolonged emersion in water actually strips the skin of its natural oils.
Try to layer your clothing so your skin doesn’t have to come into contact with itchy wool fabrics.
Chilblains can be a real issue inland in winter, so make sure you protect your fingers, nose and ears from cold weather.
If you suffer from very dry skin consider investing in a humidifier at home.
Products the doctors recommend:
Avene XeraCalm Cleansing Oil (R230)
Holding image: Shutterstock