Winterproof your skin

Winter can be tough on the complexion, but never fear, Team Nerd are here to help your skin brace the chill this season...

Winter – the season where the weather becomes the epicenter of your conversations and the make-or-break factor in most decision-making. As much as the topic can become tiresome, it is beneficial to put some thought into adapting your skincare regime at a time when the weather calls the shots.

As the body’s primary barrier to the elements, the skin is exposed to potentially harmful conditions daily. This means for it work optimally, our precious skin barrier should be given the love and attention it deserves, especially at a time when the elements are at their harshest! A little prep work can help you avoid or at least manage some of the most common winter skin issues:


Many of us experience uncomfortably dry, tight skin when the wintery weather arrives. Dry skin can be caused by a compromised skin barrier – this can mean that it’s letting hydration out and potentially irritants in and losing its moistness and hydration along the way. A compromised skin barrier can be genetic – maybe you’re born with sensitive skin – or it can be environmental – maybe you’ve using the wrong products or over-exfoliating!

What is dry skin?

Dry skin (also known as xerosis or xeroderma) is a common condition that affects people of all ages. This condition makes the skin look and feel rough, flaky, itchy or scaly.

There are many causes of dry skin including cold or dry weather, sun damage, over washing or the use of harsh soaps. This means it is often temporary — you might get it only in winter, for example — or you might need to treat it long term. Signs and symptoms of dry skin include skin that feels and looks rough, tightness, itchiness, flaking, scaling or peeling, fine lines and cracks or deeper cracks in the skin that may bleed.

What can you do?

Applying a hydrating serum or cream is a common solution to dry skin and a thick, nourishing cream including ceramides will help. This is because ceramides are lipids (fat molecules) that comprise over half of the skin’s makeup. Being abundant within the top layers of your skin, they play a key role in how your skin looks and feels, as well as how it responds to environmental aggressors. To get nerdier, ceramides along with other factors, seal the gaps between skin cells and keep essential moisture locked in. The bad news is, beginning around the age of 30, our ceramide levels become depleted as we age, which can weaken the skin barrier and make it more vulnerable to external aggressors which can lead to irritation, dryness and discomfort. One remedy for this is the topical application of ceramides, which can bring comfort to tight feeling skin and strengthen the barrier.

For additional barrier back-up, look for products containing hyaluronic acid and glycerine alongside ceramides. Glycerine and hyaluronic acid are both humectants which quench thirsty skin by attracting moisture to the skin and boosting the resilience of the skin barrier. You can also top up your hydration levels throughout the day using a spritz.

When it comes to cleansing, keep dry skin balanced by opting for a rich, creamy daily cleanser that includes acids such as lactic or glycolic acid and fats. Dry skins can also use washes, but creams may be more comfortable (as it is the ingredients that matter not texture.)

Don’t over-exfoliate either. It can be tempting when your skin is looking dull but over exfoliation can damage the skin barrier, leading to redness, sensitisation and increasing transepidermal water loss (TEWL). To minimise the risk of this, avoid exfoliating more than 2-3 evenings a week and choose exfoliating acids over gritty scrubs as these are more barrier friendly.

Radiator Face

Extreme temperatures are the norm at this time of the year but are not good for our skin- especially if we are coming out of warm environments into cold spaces. Research has revealed that low humidity on the skin and low temperatures can decrease our skin’s barrier function.* The effects of radiators on our skin are sometimes called “radiator face” and therefore, it makes sense that as we move further into winter more people tend to experience redness and irritation! Rather than relying on one product for all our moisturising needs, there should be hydrating elements spread across our regime so that the nourishing effects are accumulative. Humectants (water-retaining substances) such as hyaluronic acid can be even more effective when paired with vitamin A as they work together to improve the level to which our skin retains hydration. Top this moisture mix off with a ceramide-based hydrator to lock in the goodness of all of the other products.

Chapped lips

Chapped lips can be an uncomfortable side effect of low temperatures as cold weather with low humidity strips the lips of all moisture. Why don’t your lips re-moisturise themselves in the same way that the skin does? Well, the skin of the lips doesn’t have the oil-producing glands that the rest of the skin does, meaning that when moisture is gone, it’s gone. This can cause the lips to crack, chap and flake and when this occurs, you need ingredients and treatments to go deeper than just the surface to be able to heal the skin efficiently. A moisturising and conditioning lip balm, especially one that contains SPF will help you to top up your moisture levels. Look for ingredients like lanolin, honey, as it is a humectant meaning that it keeps moisture in, bees wax, for similar humectant properties and shea butter, which is a great natural moisturiser.

The waxes found in lip balm protect the skin and the emollient ingredients give it back its moisture. To avoid flaky skin, we recommend incorporating a lip scrub into your skincare routine. The only time that us Nerds would ever suggest manual exfoliation is for dry, flaky lips. A DIY sugar scrub is ideal - use sugar and a natural oil like jojoba oil or coconut oil, mix them together to form a gritty paste and VERY gently rub the concoction on to your lips in a circular motion. Rinse it off and then apply a thick layer of your usual emollient lip balm.

Regular moisturising and year-round sun protection go a long way to managing winter skin issues but if you find home remedies don’t help, you may need to see a doctor. This is particularly important if your skin becomes inflamed or painful, you have open sores or infections from scratching or you have large areas of scaly or peeling skin.