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How to nurture your skin during winter

Dr Julie Sinclair’s guide to healthier skin throughout winter, on over-the-counter products versus medical grade treatments.

With winter fast approaching seasoned expert in aesthetic medicine, Dr Julie Sinclair sheds light on how to care for our skin to combat the harsh effects of the season.

Temperatures drop in winter, resulting in colder, drier air. “Air conditioners, heaters and fires exacerbate skin dehydration,” Sinclair stated.

Regardless of gender or skin type, Sinclair recommends using a humidifier at night to infuse moisture into the air to counteract the drying effects of indoor heating and prevent overnight dehydration of the skin, lips, and nasal passages.

“In Gauteng in winter, there is no rain, which means no moisture in the air.

“As a result, individuals are prone to experiencing parched skin, aggravating existing conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis. The skin, lips included dry out.

“A lot of conditions worsen during winter and you have patients with different skin types,” she said.

“Even those with typically balanced or oily skin may battle dryness during the cold months.”

According to Sinclair, the approach to maintaining healthy skin during winter is not only about what we apply externally because internal hydration is equally vital.

“Ensuring an adequate water intake is crucial, especially since we tend to drink less water and opt for dehydrating beverages like coffee in colder weather.

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“Having more than two cups of coffee a day will dehydrate your skin further. Alcohol dehydrates as well. I suggest ensuring you balance your water intake when you are consuming a lot of coffee,” she said.

On skincare products, she advocates for medical-grade formulations, which offer higher concentrations of active ingredients and superior efficacy compared to over-the-counter products.

With the over-the-counter products, the ingredients cannot be above a certain level.

The must-have products for different skin types to use during winter are hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, peptides, and polyhydroxy acids (PHAs).

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“These are key ingredients that help retain moisture, stimulate collagen production and combat signs of ageing,” advised Sinclair.

Additionally, ceramides, cholesterol, and natural emollients like shea butter and sunflower seed oil provide essential hydration and strengthen the skin barrier.

She said using emollient products, especially at night, ensures the moisture gets locked in and does not make the skin oily.

“Also, a good cleanser is a must-have. A cleanser nourishing and soft on the skin also helps remove makeup.

“A day and night cream and sunscreen are essential. Sunscreen is important all year round. You apply sunscreen before your makeup,” she stated.

In addition to topical skincare, she suggested using cosmetic treatments like injectable hydrating fillers and skin rejuvenation procedures, such as chemical peels and skin needling.

She stated these treatments, tailored to individual needs, help replenish moisture, stimulate collagen production, and restore a youthful complexion.

Signs to look out for that your skin needs attention include skin feeling tight (not in a good way) even with moisturiser on.

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When it feels dry and fine lines start forming, it is a sign of dehydration.

About food intake, Sinclair suggested maintaining a balanced diet rich in hydrating foods like soups, fruits, and omega-rich seeds is essential for overall skin health.

“Nutrient-rich foods like blueberries support skin hydration and repair, complementing our external skincare regimen. Oranges can be helpful for vitamin C.”

Remember to wash your face with warm water and cleanser (find one suitable for your skin). Dab dry, no rubbing (use your hands).

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