Protecting Skin from Cold Canadian Winters
Cosmetics: To start, how much can the condition of our skin change from summer to winter? Can the change from oilier to very dry skin occur?
Dr. Lisa Kellett: The skin can change during the winter and generally the dead skin cell layers of the skin can become more prominent resulting “dryer” skin. How severe this is depends on the degree of elemental exposure as well as individual variables.
Cosmetics: What are the main concerns you hear from clients regarding skin in winter?
Dr. L.K.: They usually talk to me about “dry” skin, “chapping,” and fissured skin. They often say their skin feels uncomfortable.
Cosmetics: What SPF should Canadians be using in winter? Can a sunscreen cream replace a moisturizer?
Dr. L.K.: Always apply an SPF 30 year round. If a patient finds that a thicker sunscreen gives them enough moisture then that is adequate.
Cosmetics: What happens to skin when we get caught out in very cold winds?
Dr. L.K.: Signs and symptoms of overexposure include: redness, pain, numbness, blanching of the skin or a blue tint to the skin, and even frostbite with a loss of sensation. Extended exposure to the elements can cause a decrease in blood flow and in sever cases, tissue death.
Cosmetics: Some skincare experts are now recommending consumers should apply a moisturizer and then wait ten minutes before reapplying. They say the skin absorbs the first application. Is this a good idea?
Dr. L.K.: I recommend applying moisturizer to wet skin. When you wash your face, gently pat the excess water away but make sure the skin is still wet. Now, apply your moisturizer. It will better increase its absorption.
Cosmetics: How long do skincare products last?
Dr. L.K.: Most skincare products contain preservatives and in general their shelf life is two-to-three years. Consumers should use caution using “natural health” cosmetics they aren’t familiar with as these may not contain preservatives and might contains bacteria, fungi or atypical mycobacteria. Products approved by Health Canada such as sunscreens will have expiry dates. It’s best to scoop out skincare products from a jar with a clean Q-tip because contamination is possible if you use your finger. This is more likely to occur if you have an obvious infection.
Cosmetics: Do you recommend using a moisturizing mask each week in winter?
Dr. L.K.: Moisturizing masks are not absolutely necessary but some patients like to use them during the colder months.
Cosmetics: Does the texture of a moisturizer affect its efficacy?
Dr. L.K.: It depends on the moisturizer and its ability to decrease transepidermal water loss.
Cosmetics: How often should you cleanse you skin in winter?
Dr. L.K.: How often you cleanse depends on the individual and also the degree of sebum production in the skin which counteracts the drying effect of winter.
Cosmetics: What ingredients should you look for in good moisturizer today?
Dr. L.K.: It depends on the individual skin type and also what else a patient is using. In general a daily regimen should include an SPF 30, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium. But these might not all be found in the same product.