Winter Skin Fix: Inflammation

Who doesn’t love browsing winter catalogues?

Even as every other page is fairysle sweaters and chunky scarves wrapped around dewy-skinned nymphs otherwise known as air-brushed fashion models?

What I wouldn’t give for my skin to look THAT GOOD following an afternoon romp in the chilly air. Truth is, my cheeks look less glowing and ready for a photo-shoot and more worthy of a comparison to jolly Old Saint Nick’s stomach-that is big, fat, and RED. During the winter months, when humidity and temperatures drop and wind-chill rises, you’re likely to see another unwelcome guest on the rise as well- skin inflammation.

Inflammation, or increased swelling and reddening, occurs when the body attempts to protect itself from unwelcome and harmful stimuli such as pathogens or irritants, like allergens or harsh climate factors such as the suns UV rays. The blood flow to the area increases, creating the inflammation, as anti-bodies and other defenses rush to in to clean house. Inside the body, it may manifest itself as an illness or pain and discomfort in an isolated area. In the skin, we see redness, often accompanied by dry, flaky patches and enlarged capillaries.

Specifically, skin inflammation occurs in the winter because it is a time of year when our normal barrier function, maintained in the form of naturally produced oils that help hold water in the skin and keep external irritants out, can’t quite keep up with the harsher climate changes. Our skin becomes dryer and more sensitive as a result. The good news is there are things you can do to help!

Consider switching from your lighter summer moisturizer to a heavier cream, which will not only draw water into the skin and hold it there, but will also act as a “winter coat” against the elements, protecting your skin from the wind and cold.

Putting away the acne cleansers and bar soaps, which contain harsher ingredients like salicylic acid and sulfates, and reaching for a gentle, creamy cleanser will help keep inflammation at a minimum as well.

For extra help, consider a soothing or healing serum, which will contain high concentrations of anti-inflammatory ingredients such as rose or green tea. And, as always, don’t forget that applying an SPF 30 or higher (yes, even in the winter!) is your #1 defense against inflammation caused by the sun!

And now, let the outdoor instagramming commence!