The winter months can mean more time spent indoors, avoiding the cold outside. This can have quite the profound effect on both our skin and our mood.
But, as we inexorably move towards Spring, the days inching longer and brighter, the time could be right to reassess our routines, the products we're choosing, and to declutter, reset and refocus on what works best for our own unique skin.
Things to Consider
Whether or not you’re experiencing skin concerns, stepping back to review your daily routines holistically can help you understand what your skin is craving. Try asking yourself these questions:
Are you getting enough exercise, hydration and sleep?
Diet is crucial. Are you including a variety of foods including those rich in skin-nourishing nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and vitamins A, C and E?
Has your skin's reactivity changed recently?
Are your products working the same as they were 3 months ago?
If you’re experiencing any type of skin concern but feel your lifestyle and diet are going reasonably well, paring your routine back to basics can help make sure your skin isn't reacting to product overload, and make it simpler to discover what's going on.*
Step 1: Check Your Dates
Expired skincare products not only lose their effectiveness, but are also more likely to be harbouring germs and bacteria. These contaminants can compromise the skin barrier, leading to adverse reactions like breakouts, irritation, or bacterial infections.
To safeguard your skin, make a habit of regularly checking the expiry dates of your products! These will typically be located on the lid, side, or bottom of the packaging. Pay attention to the tiny open-jar symbol indicating the safe use period after opening (PAO), expressed in months (e.g., “6,” “12,” “24,” “36”).
Then dispose of any product that exceeds either the expiration date or PAO period.
If you struggle to recall the opening date, keep in mind that as a general rule, skincare products begin to lose efficacy and freshness after being open for about one year. For eye products, the PAO is usually around three months, but some may become contaminated and lead to irritation a bit sooner. Watch for an unpleasant odour, changes in consistency, or alterations in colour. When in doubt, it's best to discard the product.
If you do experience ongoing irritation, it could be caused by a product you’re using regularly. Start by putting away products that brighten, tighten, and peel. By taking your skincare back to the essentials, you can start the process of elimination and give your skin a chance to breathe.
For around a week, just stick to cleansing and hydration. Try a gentle, nourishing cleanser that won’t strip the skin of moisture (like our Omega-3 Cleansing Oil) and a moisturiser that is free of fragrance and actives (Balmonds Daily Moisturising Cream is a great all-round option).
Step 2: Regular Cleansing
Since the pandemic, we’ve all become a little more aware of touching our faces, knowing that it can increase exposure to colds viruses, COVID-19, and other communicable diseases. The same rules apply when it comes to skin health: our hands pick up dirt, bacteria, allergens, and irritative or congestive residues so easily. Some experts advise avoiding touching your face even when you're applying makeup. So, if you use makeup brushes and sponges, wash them frequently to keep them fresh and germ free. Much as with facial double cleansing, you can help break down makeup buildup in your brushes with an oil cleanser, and then rinse away with a second gentle liquid cleanser.
Wearing makeup continuously can take a heavy toll on skin, which can lead to a vicious cycle of skin flaring up and feeling conscious of how it looks without makeup. It’s important to give your skin generous breaks, and leaving it deeply cleansed and makeup free, at minimum, while you sleep.
Be especially sure to remove eye makeup meticulously; even heavy mascara can be broken down and removed using a gentle oil-based cleanser such as Balmonds Omega-3 Cleansing Oil or SkinSalvation balm. If you're using a balm, let it melt between your fingers before applying, and then gently wipe it away with a soft cloth or sponge. If your skin errs on the oily/combination side, it’s important to opt for gentle, non-comedogenic products (you might find Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash helpful as an all-round cleansing option).
Even if you don’t wear makeup, a thorough nightly cleanse is vital! Environmental aggressors, pollutants, excess oil, dead skin cells, sunscreen — these are just a few of the regular offenders that can compromise your skin. Regularly skipping a nightly wash can take its toll on the skin’s protective barrier, its ability to regenerate, pore size, texture, and clarity. You can reduce the risk of irritation by using cool-to-lukewarm water - just be gentle, don’t scrub, and pat skin dry rather then rub!
Step 3: Listen To Your Skin
Now you’ve stripped out any expired products and pared back your routine, go through your remaining skincare products again and ask yourself: “Does this bring my skin joy?!”
If any leave you feeling a bit meh, are just a case of habit, or you just can’t bear wasting them, it might be time for a switch up.
First, cleanse. Be determined - declutter & purge those shrug-inducing products, leaving only your absolute favourites for each type or purpose (eg. cleanser, serum, eye-cream).
Next, review. Decide which are still “just ok.”
And lastly, renew. This is the fun part: it’s time to shop for your new skincare favourites! If you like a simple routine or are looking for budget friendly options, try looking for multi-purpose products, for example, our Intensive Hand Cream also makes a fantastic facial night cream. And our hero SkinSalvation has a vast array of uses: from a protective salve for dry, itchy flakey skin, to a cleansing balm, a lip balm, a subtle moisturising cheek highlighter, or even a taming lick for wayward brows!
Should your skin feel unusually dry, it might be time to incorporate more nourishing products and formulations into your daily routine. Look for options that help prevent trans-epidermal moisture loss and safeguard the natural skin barrier; a recommended choice could be Balmonds Intensive Facial Oil.
For those with sensitive skin, it's really important to do a patch test before integrating new products into your routine. Apply a small amount to your inner wrist or behind the elbow, and wait 24-48 hours. If any irritation or redness occurs, the product may not be the right one for you.
It's also good to make sure all your products work well in combination together. Adopt a gradual approach, allowing a few weeks before introducing each new product. Consistency and patience is key - give your skincare additions at least six weeks to show noticeable results and go from there.
Step 4: Add Hydrating Products to Your Whole Routine
With so much focus on facial skincare, it’s easy to overlook the skin on our body until there’s an issue. Skin tends to dry out when it doesn’t retain sufficient moisture, and common factors in non-medical trans-epidermal water loss (a fancy way of saying that your skin is drying out!) are ageing, genes, low humidity, heat, not drinking enough, sun damage, and using harsh soaps and cleansers.
Regularly applying a good moisturiser that boosts the skin’s ability to lock in water can help your skin to feel softer, more supple and smoother from top-to-toe. Pay special attention to your hands, elbows and feet, and combine a good quality, unscented lotion like Balmonds Daily Moisturising Cream with our Bath & Body Oil for an extra nourishing layer that locks in even more hydration to protect the skin barrier for longer.
And remember your SPF…
If you've got very dark skin, you might assume that sun protection isn't relevant to you! But even the deepest skin tones only provide a level of protection equivalent to approximately SPF 13. This means everyone's skin is vulnerable to sun damage, and is subject to wrinkles, moisture loss, burns, cancer, roughness, hyperpigmentation and discolouration, even on the cloudiest days of a UK winter! It's advisable to find products with an SPF of 30 or higher and apply them consistently every day on any exposed skin areas, layering SPF with your favourite Balmonds moisturisers.
As the seasons shift, our skincare requirements evolve. In the summer, skin often yearns for lighter products and heightened sun protection, while winter demands indulgent hydration and fortified skin-barrier defence. Regardless of your location or the current season, it's beneficial to periodically recalibrate your skincare routine—consider making it a biannual ritual.
*If you suspect a skin concern may be deeper than lifestyle or product related, please consult a dermatologist or a healthcare professional.