Contributing beauty director Alessandra Steinherr shares the winter skincare and hair saviours that will nourish, protect and hydrate.
It may be a winter wonderland at the moment, but the inclement weather brings a whole new set of challenges when it comes to our skincare regime. As we flit between the freezing outdoors and the all-too-often overheated indoors, it can wreak head-to-toe havoc on the skin. The rapid and frequent changes in temperature mean our rosy-cheeked glow, which occurs naturally when the capillaries dilate, lasts much longer, leading to dehydration, flaking and irritation, whatever your skin type. For sufferers, this prolonged redness can aggravate rosacea too. And then there’s that icy wind, which blasts the skin barrier, leaving it vulnerable and less able to do its job of locking in moisture and keeping skin hydrated, as well as protecting it from the elements.
But it’s not all doom and gloom for your winter skincare. A soft and smooth complexion is achievable when the temperature plummets; as with every season change, you just need to alter your routine accordingly, introducing products that offer deep nourishment, intense hydration and protection. Here’s my guide to the cold weather skin (and hair) saviours, some new, others time-honoured classics. What’s important is finding something that really works for you this wintertide.
To protect our skin barrier through the bleaker months, we need to moisturise more meticulously, although different skin types will require different products. If you have very dry skin, you’ll be looking for a heavier cream product containing shea butter — with its rich moisturising agents — and ceramides, which are lipids (fats) and the building blocks of your skin barrier. Dehydrated skin (different to dry skin and due to a lack of water) doesn’t need lipids so much as you’re probably producing enough oil already, but you will benefit from glycerin, a super hydrator that attracts moisture to the skin, and hyaluronic acid — critical in maintaining skin hydration.
Even those with oilier skin aren’t immune to the inconveniences of winter, so you’re looking for the same. Omorovicza Gold Rescue Cream (£185) is ideal for dry, flaky skin. Its water-in-oil formula means it is really thick, and therefore soothing and calming – I swear by it. Another ultra-rich cream is Guerlain Orchidée Impériale Rich Cream (£320) which contains glycerin, as well as omega and lipid-replenishing properties. Less rich, but no less comforting, is Sisley Velvet Nourishing Cream with Saffron flowers (£143). Buckwheat extracts and Vitamin E protect the skin and the shea butter restores it, plus it really helps prevent water loss.
A great new product for all types of skin is Marie Reynolds Skin Quencher (£37.99). Its multi-layered formula contains squalane, a valuable botanical lipid, glycerine and hyaluronic acid, and you can use it as a serum under cream or on its own if you have oilier skin. For dry or very sensitive skin, Dr Sebagh Rose De Vie Serum (£129) is actually an oil, and is full of liquid nutrients that replenish, repair and revitalise.
Light and non greasy, it helps keep skin hydrated and you can use it over a cream, mixed with a cream or by itself, depending on your skin. Plus, the natural rosehip oil in it smells divine. If you’re looking for a mask, I prefer to use a cream mask rather than a sheet mask at this time of year as it’s more comforting. Dr. Barbara Sturm Deep Hydrating Mask (£90) contains soothing aloe, vitamin E and Camomile.
How many of us are guilty of neglecting whole-body skincare when the sun disappears? With winter skincare in mind, we tend to focus on our face, buying products with amazing formulas and fantastic ingredients, turning to a basic cream for everywhere else. After all, we’re perennially swamped in oversized jumpers, trousers and boots, so what does winter skincare matter? But we mustn’t neglect these hidden-away areas, as they too have a tendency to get dehydrated; they have fewer oil glands for starters, plus a favourite seasonal pastime of long hot soaks in the bath can leave skin really dry (to combat this, always apply your body product while your skin is still damp).
Both the recently launched Augustinus Bader The Body Cream (£130) and the classic Natura Bissé Diamond Body Cream (£195) are like super creams for your body. If, like me, you want a cream that’s rich but also something that isn’t sticky and means you can get dressed straight after application, these are for you, as they absorb really well. Irene Forte Skincare Orange Blossom Body Oil (£99), meanwhile, is made with orange blossom, jojoba, olive, pistachio and grapeseed oils, and really hydrates skin. It also smells delicious and, at the time of year when self-care can take a dip, it will certainly perk you up.
Alessandra’s hand cream selection
Winter skincare does not just apply to our faces. Our hands are constantly exposed to the elements, leaving them irritated and incredibly dry, even if you have oily skin. Chanel La Crème Main (£45) has a rich texture, the may rose wax and iris pallida in it leaving a moisturising protective layer. Its compact design means it can be easily popped in your bag, crucial as you need to reapply hand cream frequently.
Added bonus: it has a clever pump, dispensing the precise amount that you need. Clarins Hand and Nail Treatment Cream (£23) is a proven classic, with sesame oil and Japanese mulberry leaving skin soft and supple; it also fortifies nails (which suffer from the cold too).
Lips, eyes – treats for the delicate areas
Puckering up in winter can be hard. There are virtually no oil glands in the lips, plus the skin is very thin, so they dry out all too easily, becoming chapped and sore. La Mer The Lip Balm (£52) is fantastic, particularly if you’re a lipstick wearer as make-up goes on top really well and it’s not too slidy. L’Officine Universelle Buly Baume des Muses (€28) is a new plant-based translucent lip balm, which repairs and protects when applied. Plus it’s the chicest thing in the world and, for extra luxe, you can get it engraved with your initials.
Skin around the eyes also needs some TLC. Seed to Skin The Eye Rescue Duo (£225) consists of a daytime and a nighttime product. They work in tandem; the former has peptides to help with elasticity and has a bit of a soft focus effect, which makes the eye area look better. The latter is much richer and helps with skin rejuvenation.
Hero products for healthy hair
Central heating has a lot to answer for when it comes to hair, leaving it drier, fluffier and frizzier. If you suffer from flyaway, fuzzy hair, Aveda Nutriplenish (£27.50) is a new leave-in spray conditioner, which protects hair and ensures it doesn’t go all over the place, but equally doesn’t weigh the hair down.
For people who have dryness and who have colour in their hair, Philip B Russian Amber Imperial Gold Masque (£243) is incredibly luxe, packed with pure botanicals and essential oils to restore natural shine and bounce. For those who suffer from a dry, irritated scalp, the cold weather can make matters worse. Kérastase Scrub Apaisant (£43) deep-cleanses the scalp and the hair, removing product buildup and combating dryness.
It’s important to look after yourself from the inside out, as well as the outside in. Research consistently shows that a balanced diet that’s rich in antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids can have multiple benefits, including better skin, shinier hair, increased energy and improved brain function. But as soon as it turns brisk our good intentions can go out of the window, and we’re drawn to richer, heartier foods, consuming fewer fresh vegetables and fruit in the process. Adding calibrated supplements to your diet as a preventative measure can be an effective way to reap these skin, mood and body-boosting rewards. Though they do come with caveats: when taking supplements, be consistent and remember it takes time — don’t expect overnight results.
And, of course, the rest of your diet has to be relatively healthy — nothing in isolation works. Finally, note that there is little regulation in the supplement industry — so it’s down to us to do the research and determine which ones fulfil their promises. These are the ones that I think are effective. QMS Collagen Intravital Plus (£69) supplements work by increasing cellular metabolism and are packed with vitamin Bs to boost organ health, plus antioxidants to lessen inflammation and copper, which contributes to normal skin function. Sarah Chapman Skinesis Omega+Booster Supplement (£64) contains a blend of four different omega oils and oil-soluble vitamins A, E and, crucially, D3 (the sunshine vitamin). These provide immune system support and have been shown to improve the health of the brain, heart, eyes, mood and skin. And Marie Reynolds London 3-Set (£27.99), which contain vitamins and adaptogenic botanicals to support your body’s natural defences, reduce inflammation and lift your mood.