Chapped lips, dry skin and cracked heels are the most common skincare challenges during winters. This brings us to the most common question: is a good moisturiser ‘good’ enough? The questions do not end here, as many concerns surface during this time of the year.
Happiest Health reached out to Dr Chytra V Anand, a dermatologist, cosmetician, and trichologist in Bengaluru, Dr Bela Bhat, a consultant dermatologist at Amrita Hospital in Faridabad and Dr Mikki Singh, a consultant dermatologist at a Bodycraft clinic in Bengaluru to answer the six most frequently asked questions for winter skincare.
Are there certain kinds of skin moisturisers that work better than others during the winter?
It is always best to opt for thicker creams instead of lotions during dry winter months. Make sure your moisturisers contain occlusive ingredients (ingredients designed to provide a protective seal over skin and lock in hydration), which act as a protective barrier and prevent moisture loss. Ingredients like squalane and dimethicone also help in checking water loss from the skin’s surface.
Look for moisturisers that have ceramides that limit moisture loss, and for those infused with shea butter, cocoa butter, colloidal oatmeal, shea butter, glycerine and hyaluronic acid.
Is it necessary to use a sunscreen in the winter? If so, what types of sunscreens should be used?
Yes, use a sunscreen daily irrespective of whether it is cloudy outside. One can choose between chemical and physical sunscreens that use different types of filters. One can also choose sunscreens based on one’s skin type and concerns.
Is it true that showering too often can dry out the skin? Should one use bar soap or body wash during winter?
Showering often is fine but care must be given to the temperature of the water. Choose lukewarm showers over hot water ones. After the shower, gently dab the skin with a towel and avoid rubbing. Following that, go for a double layer of moisturiser (applying a moisturiser or body oil and then repeating the application as the next step to moisturisation). This process prevents the skin from getting dry.
Both bar soaps and body washes are fine as they are alkaline. The important thing to look for is a pH balanced soap or soap-free cleanser, as these do not strip the body of its natural oil.
No matter how much lip balm I use during the winter, my lips still get chapped. Is there anything I can do to prevent this?
Drink lots of water as it helps hydrate the lips. Use a good quality lip balm. Use a moisturising lip balm during winters at least twice a day. Also, carry your lip balm with you so that you can reapply whenever your lips become chapped and dry. Occlusives, like petroleum jelly, work wonders as they seal in moisture and help to soften, soothe, and rehydrate the lips. Avoid lip licking and compulsive peeling or plucking the skin off chapped lips, as it might worsen the problem. Prefer creamy lipsticks with hydrating ingredients rather than matte ones. You can also opt for tinted lip balms instead of lipsticks. Last but not the least, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even during winters.
What is the biggest mistake people make with their skin in the winter?
In winter, the skin is not just dry but also dehydrated. So, one needs a heavier moisturiser that is more occlusive. Next, because people do not sweat much, they think that they do not need as much water in winter as they need in summer. Moreover, they do not eat watery fruits like watermelon and cucumber as these are cold. Drink plenty of water – either plain or infused with electrolytes to keep the body hydrated.
Do we need to avoid exfoliation during winter?
Exfoliation should be a part of one’s skincare routine all year long, just like using a sunscreen is. Exfoliation removes dead cells on the skin’s surface, thereby allowing healthy and fresh skin cells to form. One should moisturise the skin right after exfoliation during winter.
What are the ways to strengthen the skin barrier?
Dry cold air and low humidity during winter can strip moisture from the skin and can compromise our skin’s barrier function. Opt for gentle cleansers and body washes instead of harsh soaps. Avoid hot water for bathing, instead, use lukewarm water. After a shower or bath apply a moisturiser soon after patting the skin dry. This approach will seal in moisture. Use a cream-based moisturiser at least twice a day. Opt for moisturisers with ceramides, colloidal oatmeal, shea butter, and glycerine. Avoid harsh or abrasive products on your skin. Avoid excessive scrubbing as well as it may damage the skin’s barrier. As indoor heating is turned up in the winter, humidifiers can be extremely beneficial in maintaining the moisture levels inside the room.