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Dry January: the skin edit

The festive season is over, and you'd be forgiven for believing that January has 1,356 days as these long, dark days can seem to drag on a little. But you've made it! We're coming to the end of the first month of 2024 and we thought this the perfect time to tackle a common winter myth - the dry skin myth...

Is my skin dry or dehydrated?

So here's the deal. As much as we're all led to believe that the winter months dry out our skin – NOT everybody gets dry skin in the winter. And identifying whether our skin is dry or dehydrated has a significant impact on how best to care for it in these winter months.

That's right, even mild flakiness and tightness might point to dehydrated skin. What's the difference? I hear you ask - well, quite a lot actually!

Winter often exacerbates dehydration, which can happen to all skin types - even oily skin types may fall prey to skin dehydration.

So, what actually is the difference between dry skin and dehydration? Although the symptoms can present the same on the surface of the skin, the underlying causes are from two completely different networks in the skin.

Natural oils within skin are made up of sebum and ceramides which come from the oil glands to naturally moisturise your skin. When there’s a misfire in this oil-making system, your skin will start to lack oil - showing symptoms of dryness such as flakiness, roughness, and a slight feeling of tightness.

Truly dry skin feels like a deep tightness, whereas dehydration is more superficial tightening (like a film on a soup). Skin hydration comes from nifty little cells known as GAG cells which produce hyaluronic acid and hold water within the skin. When both are working perfectly, your skin has enough hydration and oil for your hydro-lipid barrier or skin barrier to look and feel smooth and dewy.

Why does skin get dry in winter?

During the winter months, our skin barrier is more likely to become compromised thanks to extreme temperature changes and other environmental factors. Once the barrier is damaged, we get what's called trans-epidermal water loss.

This is when water quite literally floods out of the skin leaving us dehydrated.

Winter air is dryer (yes, even with these pesky floods we've had), not least because there are no leaves on the trees pumping out oxygen and liquid. Warm central heating makes our homes lovely and cosy, but also dries the air so our skin has nowhere to draw moisture from. This leaves our skin thirsty and displaying classic dehydration symptoms.

So, what's the solution?

Retinol can help boost skin performance long-term which can improve skin hydration over time, so don’t stop using it over the winter months and get in touch if you don't already use one.

Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced by the body and is able to hold 1000 times its weight in water. The Alumier Ultimate Boost Serum is packed with hyaluronic acid and skin barrier favourite niacinamide, so helps to keep skin hydrated throughout the winter months. Did you know that tremella mushroom – which you’ll find in Alumier's award-winning AluminEye – outperforms hyaluronic acid in its ability to attract and retain water in the skin! Plus, the delicate area around the eyes often needs extra support in harsher environments.

All about moisturiser

As winter rolls in, you'll be bombarded with stories and blogs about how you need a thick, rich moisturiser, but combining an active serum like Ultimate Boost with AluminEye might be enough for your skin. You can add a moisturiser to this combination, but remember, not all moisturisers are made equal. If you feel a little dehydrated, then try HydraClarité, while if your skin is feeling incredibly dry – reach for HydraRich. There’s every moisturiser in-between – well 7 – for all sorts of skin requirements, get in touch if you'd like some advice on which one is right for your skin.

Other ways to beat dry skin

Complement your skin routine with our top lifestyle tips to prevent the barrier damage that leads to dry skin.

  1. We know that hot showers and baths feel like a treat this time of year, but your skin will really thank you if you keep the temperature down. Hot water can irritate the skin by stripping away healthy oils and forcing out water which leads to dehydration. Keep in mind while washing your face and hands too - choose lukewarm water.

  2. Make sure you are drinking enough water each day - see the NHS guidelines on what you should be drinking. Drinking enough will help skin cells to stay full of water which means they’ll look plumper and help to flush any toxins out.

  3. Support your nutrition with healthy fruit and vegetables (also packed with water).

  4. Don’t keep the heating on full whack all the time – especially when you are in and out. Constantly exposing your skin to hot and then cold air can strip away vital oil and water from the skin. 

Your skin is communicating with you all the time, all those little dry patches, irritations and red areas mean something, so make sure you listen and adjust your routine accordingly. If you're not sure how to read the signs your skin is giving you, get in touch and we can discuss your skin needs in greater detail.

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