Winning The Skincare Cold War

By Radhika Agrawal

Combat dry and flaky skin with this ultimate guide to winter skincare

From dewy mornings, oversized jumpers, to a cup of hot cocoa, there’s much to love about the snuggle season. But the drop in temperatures isn’t quite as pleasant for our skin. Winter’s bite can do a number on even the best groomed men. The skin’s barrier becomes weaker with lower moisture levels in the air, which often leads to dry and irritated skin, flaky patches, rashes, cracks, and chapped lips.

“The lubricant level between the skin cells decreases in the winters. As the bonds between the skin cells or keratinocytes weaken, they are shed quicker,” explains Dr. Manjot Marwah, celebrity dermatologist, hair transplant surgeon, consultant & director at Dr. Manjot’s Clinic. The shedding of cells can cause your skin to feel itchy, and the more you scratch that itch, the flakier your skin becomes. Talk about a lose-lose.

That’s not to say that your skin is doomed for the entirety of the season. A well-rounded winter skincare routine can not only prevent but also reverse damage. All it needs is a little more time, attention, a few easy hacks, and some extra TLC from expert-approved products. Because cold air traps pollutants for longer, the months from November to February witness higher air pollution. And so, cleansing your skin to get rid of dirt and grime becomes an imperative first step. “Make sure you don’t wash your face too often or too vigorously though, as that can exacerbate acne,” says Ravina Jain, founder & CEO, The Skin Story and The Beard Story. Using a gentle all-natural cleanser twice a day will do the trick.

Next up is moisturising — an essential skincare practice for healthy skin all through the year — and doubly important in the cold. However, lathering yourself with multiple layers of lotion will do you little good. “Use a nourished, lightweight moisturiser suited to your skin type shortly after showering to lock in your skin’s moisture,” says Jain. Look for a product that comes packed with ceramides and squalene, which are fats and lipids that help retain moisture in the skin. Another wintertime ritual that can rob your skin of its natural oils is — and we’re sorry to be the bearers of bad news — hot showers. Because of the potential drying effects of hot water, Jain advises limiting the duration and temperature of your showers. If your skin continues to look dull and thirsty, it’s also a good idea to increase your water intake during the day. “Be mindful of what you eat and drink. Excessive consumption of coffee or alcohol can further dehydrate your skin,” says Dr. Marwah.

With a good moisturiser in your corner, you might be tempted to skip sun protection before heading out. While many associate sunscreens with beachy summer days, wearing SPF in the winters is a cardinal rule. “We see a rise in sunburns and pigmentation in chilly temperatures as people enjoy being out in the sun,” Dr. Marwah explains. Your best bet is a broad- spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or more, which offers protection from harmful UVA and UVB rays.

Cozying up under the covers is a universal delight in cold weather, so we don’t blame you for itching to hit the sack after a long day. But following a quick bedtime skincare routine can have noticeable results. If you’re suffering from chapped lips, consider applying a sleeping lip mask to quicken the healing process. “This is also a great time to show some love to your heels and palms. You can choose creams with urea, lactic acid, and glycolic acid,” says Dr. Marwah. And remember, when in doubt, moisturise, hydrate, and recover.

Reproduced with permission from

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