We look at the 5 ghastliest ways cold, dry air affects your skin and body, and then come up with a plan to knock winter out cold

#Winteriscoming was only cool when sexy Jon Snow was still a living and breathing part of Game of Thrones. Now, the phrase just sends chills down our spines.

See, our skins don’t mix well with cold, dry air. That’s why we started talking about adapting your skincare routine in autumn already. And now, winter is practically here, and it’s time to step up our game.

Know your winter devils

Instead of just giving you the “normal” rundown on cold weather skin do’s and don’ts, we’ve identified five of nastiest ways cold and dry air affect your body. And then worked out a plan of action from there:

1. Irritated and inflamed sinuses

Dry air damages the mucous membranes in your respiratory tract over time. And, since you’re breathing in and out all the time, and humidity in the air is lower during winter – not to mention everyone’s blasting the heating (more dry air) at home or at the office – your sinuses become inflamed, putting you at risk for catching a cold, the flu and other infections.

Take action:

  • Keep your nose and throat as moist as possible – use saline sprays or washes, if needed
  • Try to up the humidity in the air indoors – invest in a humidifier for your home and office
  • Avoid harsh and strong-smelling chemicals – stay away from cleaning products (yay, no more chores!), hairspray etc.

2. Impaired barrier function

The combination of cold and low humidity (dry air) not only strips your skin of moisture, but also damages your skin barrier. And the bad news (catch 22) is that, until the skin heals and barrier function is restored, skin can’t heal or rehydrate properly on its own.

That’s why, when the barrier’s impaired, just moisturising is simply not enough.

What’s happening: The ideal skin barrier is made up of layers of cells trapped in special oils called lipids. Cells usually make their own lipids, but when the barrier is damaged, moisture keeps leaking out of these “holes”. Nothing can return to normal until these “holes” are plugged.

Take action: Enter advanced products like Lamelle Research Laboratories’ Serra range. This specialised skin barrier-boosting product works with patented corrective lipid bi-layer replacement technology. This is a fancy way of saying that when Serra comes into contact with skin, it immediately starts creating multiple new lipid layered structures, using technology that’s very similar to human skin, effectively (plugging the “holes”) restoring skin barrier function to normal.


3. Dry, itchy eyes

Silly as it may sound; the cold and dry air actually evaporates the liquid around your eye (the stuff of tears) a lot faster. We’re calling dibs on the song title Too Little Tears For Another Winter, which we’re going to pitch to Adele. But in the meantime, drier eyes actually cause micro slits and scratches in the film over your eyes, making them irritated and red and susceptible to more serious conditions over time.

Take action:

  • Wear sunglasses, even in winter, to protect your eyes from the wind and elements (smugly smiling at those who laugh, because their comeuppance will come when winter robs them of their tears).
  • Use tear substitutes (artificial tears) four times a day to keep eyes hydrated – note, there’s a difference between real artificial tears and eyedrops that just remove redness, so do some research first.

4. Dry, cracked skin

When it gets really bad and skin actually cracks (like hands, heels and lips tend to), those small fissures in skin actually put you at risk of bacteria and viruses entering your body. You need to get serious about repairing the skin, the barrier function and restoring moisture.

Take action:

  • Seek proper care (medical attention, if necessary) to heal the cracks
  • Find a solution to help restore the barrier function, like in point 2 above
  • Have a look at our article How To Be Kind To Your Autumn Skin for helpful tips on switching to hydrating soaps and creams, as well as ideas for focusing on collagen repair.

5. General dehydration

Just breathing in winter dehydrates your body. The cold, dry air you inhale is enough to begin dehydrating your whole body, which, you should by now recognise as a very bad thing.

Take action:

  • Invest in a humidifier – for the home and at work
  • Drink lots of water, but also ensure you include lots of water-rich food in your diet (fruit and veggies). Oral rehydration solutions can also help, as they contain valuable minerals and electrolytes necessary for optimal hydration.
  • Shower (or bath, but not too often) in lukewarm water, not hot.


Did we miss one? Tell us your pet hate about winter in the comments below, and we’ll see if we can find a solution.


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