Protecting your skin from the cold
The skin envelops the body and acts as a barrier against external damaging factors. But while this thin protective layer does a tremendous job, it still needs help to stand up to the cold, not least in winter. So what effects does the cold have on the skin? And most importantly, how can you protect it when temperatures drop, so that it stays healthy and looks good? Here are our solutions.
The cold has an array of effects on the skin. The cold directly affects the skin, especially the epidermis (the outermost layer). The skin is compromised and dries out, which leads to discomfort, redness and itching. These unpleasant, unsightly symptoms can set in for several months of the year.
Winter is harsh on the skin, which lacks water and oil. These deficiencies lead to cascade of symptoms. Dryness leads to roughness and redness, which can turn into chapping (on the fingers, the feet and the corners of the lips) whereby the skin "cracks". Smarting and itching are signs that the skin lacks suppleness and needs more care to feel comfortable. These especially affect the face and hands, which are most exposed to the cold. Some other parts of the body (the elbows, knees and legs), although protected, are affected by the same problems. Because the sebaceous glands, which are sparce in these areas, don’t produce enough sebum. This means that the hydrolipidic surface film works much less effectively.
Why does the cold damage the skin?
In winter, despite the rain and snow, the air is drier. Moreover, you don’t feel thirsty as much. As a result, the skin receives less water and loses more. Skin damaged by the cold becomes dehydrated.
The drop in temperature also impairs the skin’s barrier function. Like a wall, it is made up of several layers of dead cells (corneocytes) laid like bricks bonded together by cement made up of lipids. The cells of the stratum corneum (the outermost layer) flake off. There are then fewer of them, so the skin becomes thinner. Moreover, its protective hydrolipidic film is of poorer quality. If water is lacking, that means oil is, too. Sebum secretion plummets, because the sebaceous glands work more slowly when the temperature drops. Ultimately, the skin's barrier function is much less protective. It is as if the skin is laid bare, and the water in our cells leaks out much more easily. Without its usual defence mechanisms, the skin is damaged by the cold, and gets itchy. Added to this are the effects of variations in temperature. The drop in temperature prompts the body to protect the vital organs by maintaining good blood supply to them. Blood flow is directed towards them at the expense of the peripheral organs, including the skin. Being less well supplied with blood, it is less well nourished and less strong. Moreover, switching between the cold outside and the heat indoors due to heating triggers a yo-yo effect of vasoconstriction and vasodilation. When subjected to these rigours, the capillaries (microvessels on the skin’s surface) can end up breaking and causing redness or even rosacea, particularly on the nose and cheeks. These effects of the cold on the skin, in particular itching, are all the more pronounced in the case of skin conditions such as xerosis and atopic dermatitis.
How do you protect your skin from the cold?
While clothing is the skin’s frontline protection against the cold and snow, it does not cover all areas (especially the face and hands) and is not enough.
Moisturising beauty formulations play a key role in protecting the skin from the effects of the cold. They provide the skin with water, hydration activators (such as hyaluronic acid) to help retain it and oily substances to compensate for the lack of sebum. They also deliver vitamins (such as vitamin PP, or niacinamide) to revive radiance and regenerating active ingredients (such as Nacr-45®: active nacre) to help it repair itself. Revitalising and regenerating properties round off these moisturising formulations. Moreover, applying cream leaves a non-greasy protective film on the skin’s surface that kind of buffers it. It leaves the skin protected, moisturised, radiant and stronger.
To support the action of beauty products, it is essential to hydrate the skin from the inside by drinking water and infusions regularly during the day. However, you should only drink a moderate amount of diuretic beverages (like tea and coffee) and not much alcohol. You can also hydrate yourself from within by eating a diet that includes lots of water from sources such as fruit and vegetables.
The right habits
It’s essential to keep your lifestyle in line to avoid subjecting the skin to variations in temperature, which could lead to itching or even irritation. Lastly, in winter, you should adjust your make-up removal and skin cleansing routines. Opt for gentle products, such as make-up removal balm or micellar water, that are dermatologically tested and suit sensitive and reactive skin. Dermocosmetic formulations hold the skin’s pH stable, keep its microbiota intact and strengthen its barrier function. Cleanse, remove make-up and dry the skin by blotting rather than rubbing, to avoid irritation, itching and redness.
In the NACRE ÉCLAT range from BLUE SKINCARE, we recommend the following regimen in all seasons, especially in winter:
1• Remove make-up and cleanse the face with Metamorphosis Balm. This is a real treat for skin that feels tight, as it is a gel-like make-up remover oil! Once rinsed off with clean water, it leaves the skin clean, soft and feeling comfortable.
2• Bring the skin's pH back into balance with Isotonic Nacre Water. Bearing in mind that the pH of dry skin makes it somewhat acidic.
3• Morning and evening: use Skin Renewal Serum to lastingly remoisturise the epidermis (24-hour moisturisation), then Moisturizing Regenerating Cream to replenish, moisturise (48-hour moisturisation) and protect the skin from external damaging factors.
We recommend using the following bodycare products in the XÉRO·NACRE range from BLUE SKINCARE, in addition to your usual skincare products:
1• Lipid-Replenishing Cleansing Oil to gently cleanse the body. Enriched with organic plant-based oils, its smooth and enveloping texture cleanses, replenishes and soothes even the most uncomfortable-feeling skin prone to itching.
2• In the case of extreme dryness with white patches (scales), Kerato-Reducing Emollient Treatment is your friend when it comes to getting rid of that "crocodile skin" look. Enriched with gentle exfoliating acids, it encourages shedding, smooths the skin and relieves itching. It reduces roughness and redness and sooths the skin.
The effects of the cold on the various skin types
While the cold can cause itching regardless of skin type, the reaction comes on sooner and more severely in skin that is already compromised, prone to atopic dermatitis, sensitive, intolerant or reactive. The symptoms are also more pronounced. In some cases, certain symptoms similar to those of an allergy may indicate intolerance to the cold. All of these skin types, which are predisposed to the effects of the cold, must be treated - if possible preventatively and on a daily basis - all year round. That way, you avoid that uncomfortable feeling and embarrassment about your appearance, because already reactive skin otherwise develops scabs, redness and flaking. You may also break out in pimples and your skin may turn bumpy. This is also the case for skin that has been compromised by medication and hormonal treatments, and skin that is dry due to the menopause. Lastly, the most fragile skin, such as children's skin, must also be protected from the effects of the cold on a daily basis with suitable skincare products for the body and face.
How do you protect your skin from the cold?
The skin of the face and hands, which are the most exposed to external damaging factors in winter, needs moisturising skincare to protect and replenish it. The skin on the rest of the body also needs to be supplied with water and oil, as certain areas with very few sebaceous glands dry out quickly andtake on that "crocodile skin" look.
Can the cold cause itching?
Yes, because the cold soon dehydrates and dries out the skin. This process leads to that feeling of tightness, redness and itching. In winter when the skin is dry and that on the body is itchy, only a soothingly moisturising, replenishing beauty formulation can provide relief. It helps the skin to feel supple and comfortable again.
Why does the skin get dry in winter?
When it’s cold, the stratum corneum that protects the surface of the epidermis becomes fragile and the intercellular cement is impaired. The skin gets thinner, water evaporates from it and the hydrolipidic film deteriorates. The latter no longer fulfils its barrier function. The skin gets dehydrated and dried out, letting pathogens (allergens) through like a sieve. The skin feels under attack and reacts byturning red, feeling tight and itchy.