Travelling to a country with a colder climate, especially in winter can wreak havoc on your skin. However, taking pre-emptive measures to combat flakiness, dryness and other skin conditions that arise from environmental factors will save you time, energy and the occasional odd look from a passer-by.
Here are some tips to maintain and sustain the overall health of your skin:
Humidity Isn’t Always Bad
If you’re facing a hard time keeping your skin soft and supple in the harsh, dry and cold climate, it is best to invest in a humidifier to maximise the amount of moisture in the air. There are a number of travel-sized humidifiers that you can carry along for your trip. Some humidifiers even work up to 18 hours, so you can moisturise your skin, while getting some shuteye.
Moisturise Before Going to Bed
You might want to take it a step further, in addition to having the humidifier next to your bed. Slather some lotion on your hands, feet, elbows and knees — the skin on these parts of the body is thinner and therefore prone to dry out faster. To get the most out of your moisturiser, wear some cotton clothing to seal in the moisture until morning.
Exfoliation is the Key to Smoother Skin
All your efforts and attempts to moisturise your skin will be all for naught, if you do not exfoliate and remove the dead skin cells regularly. It won’t matter, even if you’re using the best lotion that money can buy — with an estimated 40,000 dead skin cells shed every hour, it will be harder for moisturising agents to penetrate into deeper layers of the skin.
Take H2O and Healthy Fats
With the average human body holding about 50–75% water, it is no surprise why you need to keep yourself hydrated on a daily basis with adequate amounts of fluid. Consider adding more fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon, apples, kiwi, zucchinis, carrots and tomatoes into your diet. These foods are high in water content, which helps replenish moisture in your cells.
If you’re not much of a fruit or vegetable person, you can also dig into some foods containing natural, healthy fats. Eggs, nuts, cheese, fish (with high omega-3 fats) and cod liver oil are good alternatives for maintaining the optimal health of your skin and other organs.
It is important to note that although hydrating from within will aid in keeping your skin looking clearer and feeling softer, it will do less of a difference to patchy dry areas caused by winter skin. Opt for good moisturisers with fatty acids and ceramides (a family of waxy lipid molecules). These key ingredients will do wonders for the look and feel of dry, patchy skin.
Use Plenty of Sunscreen
You might be wondering why you need to wear sunscreen in a place relatively colder and has more cloud cover than your country has had in over a year, but there’s still a significant percentage of UVA rays that penetrate the atmosphere. This UVA radiation is notorious for speeding up the aging process of your skin. Choose your sunscreen lotion wisely, and wear it religiously when you are out and about under the seemingly deceptive cloud cover.
Besides instilling practices that will keep your skin healthy and supple, there are also a number of things that you should avoid doing to ensure that you don’t become the main cause of your skin afflictions.
Avoid Sitting Too Close to the Fireplace
In a cold climate, our primary response would be to get warm as fast as possible. So when we feel the heat emanating from a fireplace, we instinctively move closer to the fire in an attempt to absorb heat quickly. However, doing this could give rise to skin problems. One major outcome of sitting around an open flame is dry skin. Exposure to too much heat can also cause other underlying skin conditions, such as worsening eczema or causing an acne breakout (depending on the individual).
Indoor heat sources are also known to dry out the humidity in indoor air. Instead of relying on space heaters and central heating systems for warmth, put on more layers and wear clothes that trap heat and insulate heat.
Avoid Steamy Showers
It’s hard to resist a long, steaming hot shower when you’re feeling cold. Even if you have to, limit your time standing in the hot shower or soaking in a tub full of hot water, as it will draw out and deplete your skin of its natural oils. As a rule of thumb, limit your showers to a minimum of five minutes or maximum 10 minutes.
Another tip to seal the moisture in your skin is to apply a lotion or moisturising serum after patting dry. Your damp skin will absorb the product more effectively, leaving you less prone to dehydrated skin.
Avoid Harsh Soaps & Alcohol-based Skincare Products
It’s not news that harsh soaps and alcohol-based skin products dry out skin after prolonged periods of use, although this has a faster effect when in a colder, drier climate. Peels and other types of astringents are the main culprits that cause peeling. Steer clear of these products and use a hydrating mask with natural ingredients instead.
Look Good, Feel Good
There are a number of problems that might arise when your skin is exposed to a new environment for prolonged periods of time. The best way to tackle them effectively is to remain consistent in your skincare routines and avoid practices that might exacerbate your skin issues.