itchy skin

Itchy skin: How to beat the “winter itch” and keep your rosy glow

Itchy skin can be a symptom of menopause, but it can be made worse by cold weather and changes of temperature.

Britain’s climate in winter – cold, wet and windy – can make your skin uncomfortably dry or chapped: the delightful “winter itch”. Colder temperatures constrict your pores and this is what can lead to dryness and dull skin. Some people prone to acne can even find the colder weather causes them to breakout more.

But there are ways to help itchy skin and keep shining all year long…

Top tips to fight winter skin

  • avoid hot showers that pull moisture from your skin. It’s tempting to turn the thermometer up when it’s cold outside, but believe me you’re not doing your skin any good at all. Keep it lukewarm;
  • that also goes for your central heating. Lowering your indoor temperature will stop your skin suffering from a sudden jump from the UK cold outside to the balmy Med in your living room.
  • wear sunscreen every day – even if it doesn’t look sunny outside.
  • you can also consider buying a humidifier to help regulate moisture levels in your house. Not only will it keep your skin’s moisture levels balanced, I find humidifiers help me breathe a little easier, and finally
  • eat nutrient-dense foods and drink plenty of water.

How do I treat dry skin?

Washing can also strip away your body’s oils, so go for a soft, gentle cleanser. Forget soaps – they’re too drying. Instead, I love Superdrug’s Vitamin E Hot Cloth Cleanser. It’s a dupe for the Liz Earle cleanser, only this one doesn’t make my sensitive skin break out. Oh, and be gentle when you dry your face. Gentle pressing is better than a vigorous exfoliation! Yes, we want to remove the dead skin cells, but you should exfoliate in a gentle way, not via a lack of fabric conditioner!

I follow this with The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, which really makes my dehydrated skin feel full and fresh. The little fine lines don’t look as bad, neither. (I’ve also been trying the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% to try and brighten my skin, but I have to say it is doing absolutely nothing for me.)

This time of year should also see you up the level of thickness in your moisturiser to protect and quench thirsty skin. However, I’ve been using the Boots No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Day Cream (Christmas present) and I have to say, I’m not feeling the love at all. I like the Night Cream, but the Day Cream seems thin and weak and doesn’t nourish my skin at all, so if you have any recommendations, send them my way!

When it comes to my body, I’m a good old E45 girl – especially at the minute, as my hormones are rocking away and I have extremely itchy dry skin. I go for the thick cream as I love how sumptuous it feels in winter and it works wonders on my hands and feet. In summer, I go for a lighter body lotion, such as Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Deep Moisture Body Lotion For Sensitive Skin. Neither of these are fancy or sweet-smelling – that’s what my perfume is for – but they’re the only ones that do the job for me. Good old drugstore!

Why you need to wear sunscreen

Out of all of these tips, I think sunscreen is the one most of us forget about. I find many women my age are dismissive of the need to wear sunscreen in winter – or, in fact, any time or location that isn’t summer at the beach (and rarely a UK beach). It’s easy to see why. When I was a teen, I’d smother my skin in cooking oil (yes, honestly) to get a tan. That’s how we grew up and it’s still a mind-set I see too much, sadly.

Harmful UVA rays are around all year round. They penetrate through clouds and windows and reflect off surfaces such as grass, asphalt and cement – all the things around us. They can also reflect off snow, so watch out you skiers.

High UVA levels can damage your skin in even the snowiest of surroundings

You need to be even more careful if you live at a higher altitude or head off somewhere high for a winter break because UVA rays are stronger the higher up you go. Don’t be confused that this means mountains or the like. I used to live in Madrid, which is about 667m or 2,188ft above sea level. I know it’s Spain, but winter in Madrid is freezing so I was hit with all these factors – cold air, UVA rays because it’s still incredibly sunny and the central heating in offices and at home.

So basically, wearing sunscreen with at least an SPF 30 should become a daily habit, no matter what the calendar says.  

Skincare ingredients to help itchy skin

As well as following these tips, you should also look out for the following ingredients in your skincare products to help:

  • apple fruit extract – a gentle anti-inflammatory ingredient to calm irritation;
  • date fruit extract – not only stimulates collagen, which helps promote glowing, vibrant skin and provides elasticity, but also has anti-inflammatory and barrier-repairing properties;
  • avocado extract – firms the skin and provides anti-inflammatory and barrier-repair properties;
  • safflower extract – works to repair the skin barrier, has anti-inflammatory properties and provides skin-firming benefits, and
  • flax extract (linseed) – provides anti-inflammatory properties and stimulates collagen, elastin and glycosaminoglycans, which help restore and replenish your skin.

Step it up with a face mask

Masks are an excellent way to give your skin some much-needed TLC at this time of year. Go for something hydrating and smoothing, such as the Epionce Enriched Firming Mask, to counter the harsh weather and help repair the damage.

As well as hyaluronic acid and shea butter, which together help moisturise and hydrate your skin, the Epionce mask also contains willow bark to help the skin shed dead cells, clear pores and stimulate new cell formation.

Apply after cleansing and leave on for 5-20 minutes. You can also leave it on overnight to get maximum hydration.

What do you use to help your skin in winter? I’d love to know – especially any moisturisers! Leave me a comment below…

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