A cold winter climate can give us a battering. We are in and out of different environments, from the cold, wet and windy weather to hot, dry overly heated buildings. These constant changes, in combination with other factors like lifestyle, can cause all sorts of issues, from dry skin, breakouts and redness, to chapped lips and sore eyes. Fear not, it is simple to keep radiant in winter. Here are some skin tips for winter, with a few handy homemade recipes to keep your shine while protecting your wallet!
- Moisturise throughout the whole day. It’s not just for the mornings, you can reapply as often as needed during the day, and again at night on a cleaned face. And it’s not just for your face, keep all your skin moisturised: hands, legs, feet – they all like a good slather. Hands are exposed to the elements, so protect them with gloves and hand cream/moisturiser. Feet are often forgotten in winter, tucked away in socks and boots.
- Handmade hand cream: Melt 4 tbsp of beeswax and 4 tbsp of cocoa butter together. Add 4 tbsp almond oil and mix until really smooth. You can add a drop or two of essential oils if you want a scented cream. Pour it into a jar and let it harden. Keep at room temperature.
- Plant and nut oils work wonders for dry skin. Just put a drop in your hand, rub your palms together vigorously to warm through, and apply to clean skin. Once it soaks in, we find it leaves our skin nice and soft. Avocado, olive, sesame, rosehip and coconut oils all work wonders on skin, and can be used solo or mixed.
- Avoid the things that can contribute to dry and sensitive skin e.g. overly hot and long showers and baths, ingredients that can cause reactions, treatments or products that strip the oil from your skin.
- Dead skin cells can build up on our skin, making it look a bit dull and flaky, or create small spots and bumps. Go easy, you’re not scrubbing tide-marks off the bath; gently does it is good enough to buff off dead skin cells, leaving your face refreshed. After a bout of buffing… moisturise!
- Basic exfoliator for dry skin: Mix 2 tbsp of honey, 2 tbsp of granulated sugar, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice in a bowl. Add olive oil until you have a thick paste.
The sugar acts as an exfoliator, helping to slough off dry skin, as does the acid in lemon juice. Honey is soothing on skin and olive oil is good for dry skin – both help trap moisture in the skin.
Rub onto your face/skin using concentrated circular motions on dry areas, then leave for about 5 mins and rinse off with warm water. Pat skin dry.
Be careful using in a shower without a rubber mat or when you get out the bath as the oil could leave a film and be slippy (as with any oily products).
- Handmade gingerbread sugar scrub for the body: A perfect spicy warming body scrub for winter. As it has oil in it, be careful when using in the shower without a non-slip mat. Add all these dry ingredients to a bowl and mix together: 2 tsp ginger, 2 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp allspice, 2 tsp nutmeg, 200g (7 oz) brown granulated sugar, and 110g (4 oz) white granulated sugar. Now add 2 tbsp honey, and initially about 4 fluid ounces of olive oil. Mix together. Add more oil as needed – you want a thick grainy paste that holds its own and is not thin/runny. Allow the mix to sit for about 10 minutes, stir again, then pour into a jar and keep at room temperature. And try not to eat it…
Sun Protection Factor (SPF)
- It is a balancing act – we need to protect our skin against harmful UV radiation from the sun, but exposure to sunlight helps us make vitamin D.
- Vitamin D is essential for good bone health and, for most of us, sunlight is the most important source of vitamin D. How much vitamin D we need is open to definition and how much exposure time is needed to produce a “sufficient amount” of vitamin D is down to several factors, including time of year, time of day, altitude, personal choices (clothing coverage, sun avoidance), age and skin colour. Basically, it varies from person to person and is influenced by many factors. It’s known that in the midday sun in the summer months, most of us produce a good amount of vitamin D in no time at all (less time than it takes for a fairer skinned person to get burnt), but in winter it can be much longer (or even near impossible for some places) due to the sun being lower and daytime being much shorter.
- Enjoying the sun safely, while taking care not to burn, can help to provide the benefits of vitamin D without unduly increasing the risk of skin cancer. So, get a little unprotected midday winter sun, but if you are outdoors for long periods, even in cloud, continue to use products with UV protection.
- Eye drops are great for dry, itchy or irritated eyes. They add a drop of much needed moisture and soothing love to our soul windows. If you use contacts, look for a formula that can be used with contacts.
- Sunglasses! Yup, you still need to protect your eyes against UV radiation in winter. UV light is a risk factor for certain types of cataracts and has been implicated in age-related macular degeneration. In a snowy environment, the majority of UV is reflected back at you, making sunglasses essential – intense exposure can cause photokeratitis (“snow blindness”), a painful and completely preventable condition. Only use sunglasses that offer a safe level of UV protection e.g. in the UK look for the “CE” mark and British Standard BS EN 1836:2005.
- In the cold, wind and rain, we don’t need the added bonus of streaky mascara! Wear a waterproof mascara. And remove it completely at the end of the day. If you don’t have makeup remover, carefully rubbing a bit of oil (e.g. olive oil) into lashes breaks down most formulations.
- Our kissers also suffer in the winter, getting dry, chapped and cracked. Use a lip balm to condition, lock in moisture and provide a layer of protection against the elements. If you want a hint of colour, go for a tinted lip balm. Reapply throughout the day and before going out into the cold, wind or rain.
- Petroleum jelly doesn’t sink deeply into skin, but it’s good to help protect lips against wind, rain and cold by covering your skin in a fine layer of oil, which also helps prevent the moisture in your skin from being lost. As lips don’t have hair follicles, there’s no chance of them being clogged with a petroleum-based formula.
- Homemade moisturising lip scrub: In a small dish/cup, mix together 1 tsp honey, 1 tsp olive oil and 2 tsp granulated white sugar to create a grainy paste. You can also add a drop of lemon juice or an essential oil like peppermint. Gently rub your lips with small circular movements using a clean fingertip or your toothbrush. Once done, dab off the excess with a damp cotton ball and apply some lip balm.
Hair care for winter is, well, pretty similar to the summer really. In summer we have the heat, humidity, sweat, air con and, if lucky, sand and salty sea action to contend with. In winter, it’s the same things that get our skin that get our tresses.
Whatever the season, all these things can cause a variety of problems like:
- Roughened cuticles (salt, sand, wind): Use the right protective conditioner for your hair type every time you shampoo to smooth down cuticles from root to the ends.
- A dryer scalp/hair or brittle hair (sun, heated tools, winter): Use a deep-conditioning treatment once a week, or try oils. Go easy on heated tools and blow drying – and use heat protection products every time.
- Split ends: There is only one way to deal with split ends – a haircut or trim.
- Static (dry heat/air): A little serum, soothing cream or anti-frizz product can help deal with static problems that some people seem to get during winter. Also, using a leave-in conditioner and try “anti static” combs/brushes – and running a baby wipe over static hair seems to work for some people!
- Frizz (humidity, wind, lack of moisture in hair): Use serum or an anti-frizz product. Also, if you have wavy/curly hair and use a hairdryer to dry your hair, use a diffuser and use a cooler heat setting.
And don’t go out in winter with wet hair. Not only will your head get very cold, it makes hair go crispy as it dries.
Homemade Hair Treatments
Just like our skin loves oil, so does our hair. There are many different plant, nut and vegetable oils that can be used on hair, like include argan, olive, coconut and macadamia nut oils. It depends on your hair type (e.g. some oils are too heavy for finer hair, so pick a light/finer oil) and your personal preferences – here are a few suggestions:
- Warm avocado oil conditioning treatment for dry and damaged hair: Warm the oil carefully (not too hot – a burnt scalp is not good) and massage completely into your hair. Wrap your hair up in a towel and leave for 30 mins. Shampoo in warm water and rinse. You can also add a tiny amount of oil after regular shampooing and conditioning – rub just a few drops in your palms and massage it through warm, damp hair, especially at the ends.
- Coconut oil and olive oil treatment for Afro/black or coarse hair: Mix the two oils for a conditioning treatment that works well on coarse and thick curly hair. Coarse hair can take the rich coconut oil.
Keep drinking water, keep eating properly, keep moving, keep warm and keep laughing. Bingo!
For recipes: tsp = teaspoon | tbsp = tablespoon