If you've got dry or sensitive skin, you'll know from bitter experience that it can take a bit of a beating in winter - it’s generally the season skin struggles most with flare-ups.
Why Does Winter Affect Skin So Badly?
The colder months bring a challenging combination of low temperature, low humidity, and cold winds. You might also be spending more time indoors in hot, dry central heated air, getting more exposure to household irritants such as mould spores or chemicals, wearing hot itchy woolly clothes, and taking long hot baths.
Unfortunately, none of these things are great for the skin! Dry air means moisture from the skin evaporates more easily, leaving it less resilient, more open to irritants and further damage. Detergents, hot water and perfumed toiletries strip vital oils from the skin barrier, leaving it reactive, depleted and permeable.
All of these combined assaults mean the skin barrier doesn’t work as well to keep moisture where it’s needed, and as a result a vicious circle of dehydration, damage, inflammation and itchiness is set up.
Effective Ways To Strengthen Skin In Winter
The good news is that there are some really effective ways you can reduce the toll winter takes on sensitive skin! Think of it as giving your skin extra weapons in the battle against dehydration, building up the battlements and strengthening defences.
One really good way is to feed it up with nutrients such as omega oils. Omegas help keep inflammation in check, regulate the production of the skin’s vital oils that form the barrier’s building blocks, and help keep skin soft, supple and resilient.
You can add omega oils to your diet by increasing your consumption of cold-pressed omega-rich foods in winter; good sources include olive oil, hemp seed oil, oily cold-water fish such as mackerel and sardines, seaweed like nori, and nuts and seeds (if you can tolerate them) such as walnuts, chia, sesame, flax etc.
But did you know you can also boost your body’s omega consumption by using creams, oils or balms which are rich in essential fatty acids? Topical application of omega-rich products gets nourishment straight to the skin barrier where it’s needed; think of a twice daily dose of Balmonds Skin Salvation balm as a supplement for the skin!
Rosehip oil is one of the very best natural oils to give your skin in winter. It’s made not from the petals but the seeds of the rose bush, seeds which are found in the bright red or orange rose hips the bush produces in autumn, and contain a fantastic amount of nutrients. When pressed, they make a rich, golden oil which has been prized for centuries for its skin-nourishing properties.
The secret to its rosehip oil’s success is in the nutrients the seeds contain, which feed depleted skin with vitamins, essential fatty acids, minerals, and antioxidants. It also contains natural anti-inflammatories which are good for calming down skin suffering from a winter flare.
You can get your daily dose of rosehip with Balmonds Intensive Facial Oil; this super-charged blend of oils is rich in rosehip, as well as lavender, chamomile and calendula. Apply to sore, dry, damaged or depleted skin as if it were a natural vitamin supplement, which will support your skin’s natural cycle of regeneration and repair. You can use it as a night-time facial oil, but you can also try adding a few drops to your favourite moisturiser, or massaging it into dry cuticles and brittle nails.
Hemp Seed Oil
Hemp seed oil is another great oil to combat winter skin! Hemp seeds are rich in a whole range of nutrients: they’re particularly packed full of skin-kind essential fatty acids such as Omegas 3, 6, & 9, but also contain antioxidants such as Vitamins D and E, twenty different amino acids as well as phytosterols, phospholipids and minerals including calcium, magnesium, sulphur, potassium, phosphorus.
Like rosehip, think of hemp seed oil as a kind of supplement for skin that needs a little extra help in winter, to help calm down winter inflammation, and to protect and nourish broken, cracked or itchy skin.
Our hemp-rich Bath & Body Oil is a great multipurpose product that works brilliantly to replenish dry or flares winter skin. As well as hemp, it contains lavender, chamomile and safflower oils, and is a great product to use to ‘soak and seal’, during and after bathing. Although winter baths are lovely and calming, they dry out skin if they’re too long or too hot. A good splash of Bath & Body Oil in warm water instead of fragranced bubbles will help prevent the dehydrating effect of a hot bath, and will double down on the calming effect with its delicious, soothing scent of chamomile and lavender.
You can also smooth on plenty of oil as soon as you get out of your bath: just pat your skin dry and apply on as much oil as quickly as possible! The longer you leave skin exposed to the air, the more likely freshly bathed skin is to start feeling dry and itchy.
Sea Buckthorn Oil
Sea buckthorn berries are nature’s little superheroes! Also known as hippophae rhamnoides, it is packed full of vitamins, antioxidants, polyphenols, phytosterols and essential fatty acids. It’s possibly the only source of all four omega oils - 3, 6, 7 and 9 - which means its oil is fantastically good at supporting skin health and resilience, improving moisture retention, and keeping skin soft, supple and strong.
You can find this extraordinary oil as one of the hero ingredients in Balmonds Intensive Hand Cream, which is made to protect dry and over-washed hands especially during the problematic winter months. Combined with the richness of shea butter, hemp, calendula and skin-soothing Roman chamomile, the hand cream is bursting with nutrients to look after dry hands this winter.
Borage or starflower is another plant which is fantastically rich in winter-busting omegas! It has exceptionally high levels of gamma linoleic acid, which has been shown to be really useful for those with dry or eczema-prone skin. In fact, a 2018 review of studies looked at applying borage oil topically (rather than as a dietary supplement) and showed that it has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
You can find borage in our Scalp Oil, which was formulated to feed dry, flaky scalps with all the nourishment needed to support the skin barrier, but it can be used anywhere on the body that might need a combination of nutritional support plus deep hydration.