We don’t really have much of a winter season in the Lowveld. Yet despite this, we still suffer the effects of the season on our skins. By understanding the changes and making a few small tweaks to your home skincare routine, you can mitigate these unpleasant changes and get the most out of your skincare at home.

Two big environmental changes happen in the winter season: (1) The humidity drops dramatically, and (2) The temperature differences between day and night increase. We are so used to the humidity which comes with summer in the Lowveld, it only makes sense that the winter will be a huge blow to the skin in terms of decreased hydration.

The typical changes in the skin with winter approaching is usually that of “my skin feels dry”, “my face feels tight”, “my eczema is flaring”. All these complaints have one thing in common – disruption of the skin barrier.

A healthy skin barrier resembles that of a brick wall with the “brick and mortar” analogy – bricks represent our skin cells (corneocytes) and mortar represents a lipid complex between the cells packing them together. When they are tightly packed together, no external aggressor can penetrate the barrier and the function is optimal. This is normal healthy skin function. However, if the junctions are weakened the barrier is disrupted so we lose hydration, the skin feels dry, the skin cannot function optimally and we may get secondary dermatological problems as well.

So now that we understand why this happens, it makes it much easier to switch things up with your skincare to prevent it.

Here are five changes you should consider making to your home skincare routine this winter:

  1. Switch to a gentler cleanser which is not abrasive – exclude acids and physical exfoliants
  2. Add a hyaluronic acid based serum (hyaluronic acid is your skin’s natural humectant and one molecule of HA binds to 1000 molecules of water)
  3. Ensure that your moisturiser specifically contains ceramides to replenish the lipid complex or “mortar” of the skin
  4. If you’re using actives as part of your night routine, these may need some changes too: Omit the retinoids or switch to a lower percentage or use them less often as tolerated
  5. Exfoliation treatment can be limited to once a week

No home skincare would be complete without some in office medical treatments to boost skin’s functioning. Here are my favourites for winter:

  1. Platelet rich plasma procedures (PRP) – using your own platelets to boost the skin
  2. Skin boosters – also known as skin optimisation where we inject tiny amounts of hyaluronic acid into the skin. Instant hydration, glow and healthy skin (A personal favourite of mine!)
  3. Chemical peels – different acids target different concerns and while one may think this may impair skin barrier function, it can do just the opposite to remove dead skin cells and renew the surface of the skin.

Winter is the time to treat our skins with a little more TLC than just simply sunscreen of the summer months – we can use the cooler weather, less harsh UV index and less social functions (although there is certainly nothing slow about the Slowveld social scene) to do more intensive treatments to reverse the photoaging inflicted over summer.

Please, never forget sunscreen – you skin will thank you in 20 years!

Dr Allison Blair is a general practitioner with a special interest in aesthetic and integrative medicine. What makes Dr. Alli’s approach different is that treatments are focussed foremost on accentuating your best features, achieving natural results and softening the negative signs of ageing. She is absolutely passionate about happy, healthy skin! Dr Alli offers all cosmetic treatments including anti-wrinkle injections, dermal fillers, bio-stimulators, medical micro-needling, platelet rich plasma, chemical peeling and skin boosters to name a few. Contact Dr. Allison: hello@drallisonblair.co.za or 076 161 6690.