Your skin is blotchy. Red, yet pale. Hot like a latte one minute, cold as iced-tea the next. Mysterious dry patches appear…. And although it may be desirable to have wind-swept hair, windswept cold-aggravated, central heating harmed skin is what make February, with apologies to TS Eliot, the cruelest month, at least to your skin.
So what is going on and why? Start by considering your heritage. Say what?! “Genetics cause cold weather to affect the skin in different ways,” explains ûber facialist Linda Meredith who counts Gwyneth Paltrow, Sienna Miller, Kate Beckinsale and even Colin yes-I-know-he’s-happily-married-but…Firth as her clientele at her London based salon. “People with relatives or who have grown up in a cold region for example like Russia or Scandinavia have genetically thicker skin to help with protection against low temperatures. Also, their diet over the years plays a big part in the genetic structure, fatty and oily food helps build up this protection.” Here is a tip worth thinking about as you scan the supermarket shelves; oil in respectable quantities, doesn’t make you fat and it makes skin glow.
So what is going on when you come in from the cold? “Change in temperature increases blood flow and will cause the fine capillaries in the surface layers to burst, causing dehydration and dryness to follow,” explains Linda. And more emollient isn’t always better. “A thicker cream may block the surface and lead to further dehydration under the surface, and also breakouts. So focus on keeping the skin protected both topically and also under the surface with creams that absorb.”
Now that I have tried the Linda Meredith Amazon Cream (£149/$234), it is my new go-to product—hence asking Linda—when I am about to enter or emerge from a snowstorm because it is packed full of omegas 6 and 9; it’s does what snow-boots do to your feet but on your face.
What if your skin has gone red—and refuses to neutralize? Another London based facialist, Debbie Thomas advises: “SkinCeuticals Redness Neutralizer ($65) really helps to calm the skin back down.” In fact clinical studies have shown that this has a long-term effect. She also recommends a richer moisturizer in the winter to prevent dryness. I am a fan of Olay Regenerist Deep Hydration Regenerating Cream ($22.99) that works on anti-aging while protecting and nourishing deep down.
But Debbie has one practical tip anyone can do for free: “To combat the drying effects of central heating, put moisture in the air either at home or work by placing a small bowl of water on the radiator as this does the same thing as a humidifier.”
To save face, don’t forget to use a sunscreen either. The winter sunshine reflecting off the snow isn’t just dangerous for the skin on a ski-slope; invest in one such as Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Sunblock SPF 70 ($9.99) that absorbs easily and stays all day.
And this is a good time to use foundation over a tinted moisturizer or a BB cream; like the clothes you wear, the more layers you have, the more you are protected from the elements.