Winter Skin Check In
By Jessica Notch, Esthetician
How is your skin handling the winter months?
Signs of dry skin can include tightness, redness, itching, flaking, and potentially cracking. During the winter, when the humidity is low, water in your skin will evaporate faster in the cold dry air.
These environmental conditions could mean your skin may not be retaining sufficient moisture. To understand why this happens, let's talk about your acid mantle and why it’s important. Your acid mantle acts as a barrier for any potential contaminants that might penetrate the skin, keeping out viruses and bacteria while retaining moisture. Sebum, an oily waxy substance from sweat glands that waterproofs and lubricates the skin, assists with moisture retention. Sebum mixed with lactic and amino acids found in sweat creates your slightly acidic skin barrier with a PH between 4.5-5.5.
You can balance your skin’s PH levels with the correct home care for your skin’s needs. Using the wrong ingredients could strip this proactive barrier causing damage, premature aging, and exacerbation of already dry skin.
While there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to skincare, there are ingredients which benefit all skin types. A few of my favorites include aloe vera, Hyaluronic Acid, sea buckthorn oil, Shea butter, and lactic acid.
• Widely known for its hydrating capacity and ability to supply moisture directly to the skin tissue, Aloe Vera is extremely beneficial in regulating dry skin. Benefits Include anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties while healing, softening, and hydrating. When applied, it creates a cooling sensation while immediately soothing stressed skin.
• Hyaluronic Acid is a naturally occurring moisturizer with incredible water binding capabilities. The Hyaluronic molecule can bind up to 1000 times its weight in water and it is one of the main components of connective tissue. It’s ability to retain water helps regulate skin’s elasticity and the distribution of nutrients while significantly improving rough skin surfaces.
• Sea buckthorn oil protects the skin against harmful or irritating external factors. The main components of sea buckthorn oil include vitamin A to help regulate keratin, keeping skin soft and smooth. Vitamin E to help prevent oxidation of cells, amino acids, flavonoids, and carotenoids. Flavonoids and carotenoids are both powerful antioxidants responsible for the vivid colors found in fruits and vegetables. They play an essential role in neutralizing free radicals, helping maintain the quality and overall appearance of the skin.
• Shea butter helps improve dry, irritated skin by restoring suppleness and protecting from dehydration due to harsh climates. Shea Butter comes packed with anti-inflammatory benefits to reduce redness, soothe dry chapped skin, and reduce signs of sensitivity.
• Lactic acid is a natural component of the skin's natural moisturizing factor. NMF is a collection of naturally occurring humectants within the top layer of skin that protect and keep skin moisturized, healthy, and smooth. Lactic acid has the ability to increase water retention in the top layer of your skin.
It’s important to remember that skincare concerns are not synonymous with skin type; oily skin can still experience dry symptoms. My experience with my own problematic skin has shown me that an individualized skincare plan is critical to reaching your goals. Even for skin less temperamental than my own, a plan can help ensure long term skin health. Some things I take into consideration while creating your skincare plan are lifestyle, current skincare routine, prioritized concerns, and the current state of your skin. Incorporating the ingredients above can help with dry skin this winter, but a specific, customized facial treatment can help set you in the right direction in the long term. Customized facial treatments include: an effective treatment customized to your specific skin care concern, including multiple professional tools to deeply cleanse, exfoliate, and nourish the skin, plus an upgraded skincare experience with a shoulder, neck and scalp massage to de-stress and encourage the movement of lymph fluids around your body. Your hands will also experience relief with a hot oil treatment. Keep in mind that while getting regular facial treatments are beneficial for skin health, a developed home care routine is where you will experience the most change in your skin.
Your home skin care should include morning and evening routines. For most, a morning routine should start by using a PH balanced cleanser followed by a well known antioxidant, vitamin C, to help fight free radical damage. Free radicals cause damage when they steal an electron from an atom in a healthy cell. The healthy cell then needs an electron, which results in it taking an electron from another cell, starting a chain reaction of damage. This damage to our skin’s DNA speeds the aging process. Vitamin C helps to counteract free radical stress and visibly renews skins appearance, making it brighter and firmer. It also allows for longer lasting UVB protection when combined with UVB sunscreen.
SPF protection is critical in preventing premature aging. Signs of sun damage include cross-cross wrinkling, severe skin sagging, multiple skin discolorations and hyperpigmentation, rough or leathery textured skin, distended capillaries, and skin growths including skin cancers. One of the first and most important signs of skin damage caused by the sun is splotchy discoloration of the skin. This is caused by the skin trying to defend itself against sun exposure. Tanned skin, while nice, is a warning that UVB rays are creating cellular DNA damage.
An evening routine should include cleansing with a PH balanced cleanser to remove dirt and debris from environmental contact, as well as makeup. Your next step should include an anti-aging serum for your skin type. It’s important to use skin repairing ingredients in the evening. While you sleep your skin’s blood flow increases, collagen is rebuilt, and damage from UV exposure is repaired, thus reducing wrinkles and age spots.
Other steps you can use in your routine to further protect your skin depend on your specific skin care concerns. I would advise most people to add an eye cream or gel to their everyday care. Depending on what your main concern is brightening under eye circles, preventing or treating sagging or wrinkled skin, or hydrating dull skin there are a number of eye creams suited to help you achieve the results you are looking for. Finally, corrective face masks are for more than just slumber parties. They can be a powerhouse treatment when packed with the right ingredients to hydrate, soothe, exfoliate, remove excess oils, remove impurities, and improve the appearance of skin.
In the end, a great analogy is that facials are like going to the gym and a home skin care routine is like a healthy diet; going to the gym isn’t going to do much if you’re not eating the right ingredients at home. I invite you to create a customized skin care plan designed around your concerns and needs. Visit me in the spa at Edge Hair Design on Dressler Road for $20 off your first facial treatment experience with me.
Jessica Notch has been licensed since 2009 and has spent nearly four years specializing in customized skin care. Difficulty with her skin and a desire to reach her skincare goals lead to a career centered on empowering her clients to take control of their skin through education. Customized facial treatments and long term plans create a road map for skincare success, and Jessica’s goal is to share the success she’s found with all of her clients.