Ask the Esthetician: Caring for Your Skin in the Cooler Months

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As a professional esthetician and spa owner, one of the biggest concerns which I hear from clients is how to properly care for their skin in the cooler months.  I can absolutely offer some practical advice, but first it is important to explain a few things about the skin.  It is important to understand that there are three primary types of skin: Dry, Normal and Oily.  Dry Skin is characterized by a under active sebaceous (oil-producing) gland, Normal Skin is well-balanced and is ideal, Oily Skin is characterized by an over-active sebaceous-gland.  Most people tend to fall somewhere in-between, that is to say Normal-to-Dry or Normal-to-Oily; true “Combination” Skin is something which I have very rarely encountered in my practice.  Beyond your skin type, an esthetician may analyze a skin condition (i.e.- acne, dehydration, etc.).  Your skin type is genetically pre-determined.  Understand that any skin type can be affected, at any time, with any skin condition.

In the cooler months, the most common skin condition that creates issues is dehydration.  Dehydration is a condition wherein the skin lacks water.  While dehydration can and does effect  all skin types, it is typically most pronounced in those with Dry Skin.  Your skin has what is called a “Hydro-Lipidic Barrier”…this is the balance of water and oil in your skin.  The less oil that is in your skin, the less protection there is for your skin’s water content.  Long-term dehydration of the skin leads to Trans-Epidermal-Water-Loss or T.E.W.L.; this is a major contributor to the pre-mature aging process.

Phew!  That was a lot of information!  Still, if you do not understand the root cause of an issue, then how can you hope to combat it?  Here are my ‘Top 5 Tips for Cooler Weather Skin Care’:

  1. Be sure that you are using a sulfate-free cleanser.  Sulfates (which appear in the vast majority of mass-market/make-up counter brands) are too basic for the acid-mantle of your skin.  Because of this, they tend to “strip” your face of oils.  Here’s the issue…if you already have dry skin, then your skin has less oil to begin with.  By stripping off what little oil you have, you leave the water content in your skin’s surface vulnerable to evaporation, thus speeding up the aging process.  If you have oily skin to begin with, then “stripping” the skin of oil can contribute to a greater production of oil by your sebaceous glands…also not great.  Remember that you want your skin to be in balance…when your skin is in balance, then your complexion will take care of itself.  ***If you were to splurge on just ONE professional skin-care product, then your cleanser would be a good choice!  Personally, I LOVE Stone Crop Gel Wash available at Balance Day Spa for just $42.00 (USD)!
  2. Be sure to use a high-quality moisturizer both day and night.  Moisturizer mimics the oil-layer of your skin’s hydro-lipidic barrier and, therefore, helps to “seal in” moisture.
  3. Incorporate a face oil into your skin care routine.  Face oils are one of those things that tend to make people nervous.  Oil has long been wrongly vilified as the culprit behind a multitude of skin issues, chiefly acne.  The key is to use a high-quality face oil (translation…most likely not one that is sold “over-the-counter” at your local natural market…sorry, but it is true).  Personally I ADORE Face Oils by Eve Taylor. Based in London, Eve Taylor has been considered the “gold standard” in the world for essential oils for more than 40 years now; these organically grown, hand-harvested oils are available at Balance Day Spa for just $42.00 (USD)!  So, what is the advantage of incorporating a face oil?  Most moisturizer is water-based.  Typically, this is a good thing; however, if you live in an arctic sub-terrain, such as New York in the winter, then the water content in your moisturizer can freeze on the surface of your skin with prolonged outdoor exposure.  The result?  Chapped skin.  On the other hand, oil does not freeze and thus can be blended with your moisturizer to protect your skin.
  4. Embrace the power of humidity!  One of the absolute simplest, and most cost-effective, things that you can do for your skin is to purchase a humidifier.  In the cooler months we tend to be exposed to more indoor heating; this can leave the air very dry.  It is important to note that fireplaces are the absolute WORST offenders of sapping the moisture from your air.  One great way to combat this is by adding a humidifier to your home.  Any old humidifier will do…generally these can be purchased for less than $100.00 in a local pharmacy and will last for years.  Think about it…if the air in your environment is not dry, then it will not be looking to evaporate moisture from your skin.  ***IMPORTANT: In order to avoid mildew and mold, it is imperative that you clean your humidifier regularly according to package directions!
  5. Treat yourself to a professional facial.  It never hurts to have a good, professional facial done with the change of seasons.  Not only can your esthetician work to “beef up” the hydration levels of your skin, but she can make any necessary seasonal revisions to your home care regimen as well.

With just a few simple steps, you can glow all winter long!

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