The ultimate guide to keeping your skin from flaking off in winter

Woman with snow on her in winter
Winter can be unkind to your power bill, but don't let it be unkind to your skin. Photo credit: Getty

The weather in New Zealand is cooling considerably, which brings with a lot of changes.

Some are nice, like going from beers in the sun to a glass of red by the fire; or pulling out that blanket-like scarf that's been hibernating at the back of your wardrobe.

But some are not so nice, like getting rain water inside your new boots. Or your skin turning into a cloud of dust due to the indoor heating and the bitter cold outdoors.

Luckily, there are ways to tackle the problem of dry, flaky winter skin face first. 

Wash in lukewarm water

Dr Frank Lipman from Be Well recommends that even though it can be tempting to get into a piping hot shower, it can dry out your skin even more. Use lukewarm water to avoid stripping oils away from the skin, he recommends. Not only that, moisturise immediately afterwards. Applying moisturiser to damp skin helps seal in dampness.

The ultimate guide to keeping your skin from flaking off in winter
Photo credit: Getty

Change your skincare

If you're lazy, like me, you'll happily keep using the same skincare and makeup from summer until winter, and only notice there's a problem when your foundation is about three shades darker than the rest of your face.

While that can be problematic for your photos, it can be even more problematic for the rest of your skin.

Dermatologist Dr Samer Jaber told Huffington Post that people should use a "more bland" cleanser for their face, and switch to something like Dove or Cetaphil for their body.

Exfoliate less

You might be moisturising more, but you can definitely pull back on the exfoliation. If your skin is particularly dry and irritated, stop it all together; whereas if it's just looking a bit flaky, you can reduce to once a week. Switch to a gentler exfoliator if you can, and even a hot flannel can be useful for sloughing off dead skin cells. Remember, moisturiser works more effectively without layers of dead skin on your face (sorry), so if your skin can take it, weekly exfoliation is ideal.

Don't go out in the cold with damp skin

Not only is it bloody uncomfortable, it's not good for your skin; much like licking your lips when they're dry and chapped. Dry it well, moisturise and rug up - if you need an excuse to buy a new beanie and some gloves, this is it.

Avoid toxins, allergens and irritants

Dr Lipman recommends you avoid anything which might cause your skin to flare up, particularly if you have eczema, dermatitis, or psoriasis.

"Winter skin is more fragile, so avoid irritating fabrics (like wool) and chemical-laden detergents. In addition, glutathione is considered the "master anti-oxidant" and helps your body detox," he recommends.

Hydrate both your insides and your outsides

Harsh heating in the office can cause you to become even more dehydrated than in summer, even though you might not be as thirsty. Keep drinking water, eat foods high in water content (fruits and veggies like apples, oranges , tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and carrots), and fatty foods like salmon and nuts to lock moisture into the skin cells.

If your skin is very dry, using a humidifier while you sleep can be particularly helpful for dry skin around your face and nose, recommends Time.