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Early Winter SkinCare Tips

Dr Olfa Fahem – Skin Beauty Advisor


The harsh summer season is finally over in the UAE and our favourite time of the year is just around the corner. While we get our boots, jackets and woollens out, it is absolutely important to prep your skin for the winter months ahead!  Winters bring along uncomfortable dryness to the skin, especially of the face, hands, and feet. For some people, the problem is worse than just a general tight, dry feeling. With the cold weather and falling temperatures, the skin can become very dry that it might start flaking, cracking and even sometimes may end up in having eczema, where the skin becomes inflamed. Dry skin is usually a long term recurring issue, especially in winter, and it is important to avoid it.

What exactly happens to the skin in cold weather? When the superficial skin layers (known as the stratum corneum) losetheir moisture and water content, the cells shrink.

When the volume of the cells decreases significantly, it can then adversely affect and impact the skin’s elasticity, thereby creating fissures. Fissures cause rupture of capillaries, causing clinical bleeding. The disruption of skin integrity will thereby result in inflammation, with a risk of infection. The absorption of allergens and irritants also rises, since the skin is damaged. This thereby increases its susceptibility to allergic and irritant eczema. This eczema may cause persistent complications, and it only gets harder in winters, where the natural oils are leeched from the skin.

Here aresome useful tips to ensure that your skin remains hydrated and healthy.

  1. Facial Care
    • Moisturize More!The use of a moisturizer that works just fine in spring and summer may not be adequate. An “ointment” moisturizer that’s oil-based is preferred, rather than water-based. The oil will create a protective layer on the skin that retains more moisture than a cream or lotion. Lotions containing “humectants” are advisable because they include glycerine and hydroxyl acids which attract moisture to the skin. Applying a soothing lotion right after the bath or shower will help the skin’s protective layer stay intact.
    • Yes, sunscreens in winter! Sunscreen isn’t just for summertime. Winter sun can still damage the skin. Apply a generous amount of sunscreen to your face and neck, about 20-30 minutes before going outside. Reapply frequently if you’re out for a long time. Combination sunscreens which contain both sunscreens and moisturisers are convenient.
    • Drop the harsh products: As weather conditions change, so, too, should the skin care routine. If the facial skin is even mildly dry, avoid of harsh scrubs and alcohol-based toners, these will remove vital oils from the skin. Instead, use cleansing milk or mild foaming cleansers. They will gently cleanse without stripping natural skin moisture. Masks that are “deeply hydrating,” rather than clay-based (which draw moisture out) are also helpful.
  1. Hand care: The skin on our hands is thinner than on most parts of the body and has fewer oil glands. It’s harder to keep your hands moist, especially in cold, dry weather. This can lead to itchiness and cracking. Keep your hands warm at all times to avoid excessive dryness, and keep a hand moisturizer in your bag wherever you go.
  1. Feet care: Simple foot lotions are lovely in the hot summer months, but during the winter, the feet need stronger stuff. Lotions that contain petroleum jelly or glycerine would be thicker and more effective. Alsouse exfoliants (physical ones like coarse loofahs and pumice stone) to get the dead skin off periodically; this will help moisturizers to sink in faster and deeper.
  2. Body care: Soaking in hot bath feels great after frolicking out in the cold. But the intense heat of a hot shower or bath actually breaks down the lipid barriers in the skin, which can lead to a loss of moisture. Luke warm water is any day better than hot or cold waters. Using a mild bath product or one that is pH balanced helps to maintain skin’s oil balance. Showers may be better than baths as they minimize the contact duration of water with skin.
  1. Professional Care: Since dry skin makes the skin more sensitive, some care has to be practised in selection of suitable products. If the dryness or itchiness persists in spite of regular emollient application, you should definitely visit a professional dermatologist.

Don’t forget that water is good for our overall health and severely dehydrated skin will definitely benefit from fluids. Citrus fruits, nuts, green leafy vegetables are good sources of nutrients.

About Dr. Olfa Fahem
With over a decade of experience in the medical field, including the initial one year as Resident Holistic Health Practitioner, Dr Fahem is a distinguished name in the beauty industry today. She holds the distinction of introducing Aromatherapy and Spa. She manages also the doctor’s recruitment. Dr. Olfa Fahem is a woman of varied interests. She owns a Medical Center under her own name in Tunisia and has authored various features on slimming and beauty in several leading magazines. She is also a regular guest on the program ‘Arabic Morning’ on MBC Arabia, speaking on different treatments. She speaks Arabic, French and English fluently.