Skincare professionals share an open secret about preventing winter damage to your skin

It's all about hydration. Getty Images
It's all about hydration. Getty Images
  • The winter season comes with its own list of skin concerns for many. The most common being dry skin. 
  • This means our skincare routines and products have to be adjusted accordingly. 
  • This season's most emphasised remedy is hydration - your skin needs more water... from inside and out.
  • A few experts from some of our favourite skincare brands have weighed in - from explaining the difference between dehydrated and dry skin to recommending an unlikely product you'll grow to love as much as I do. 

Winter is a demanding season. It demands that you be warm, indoors (the lockdown helped with this one), constantly fed, and thoroughly moisturised. Much like a hearty Sunday lunch, winter just requires more resources. And like it or not, it's an expensive season. 

Now we all know good skincare costs a pretty penny, but the unfortunate fact that our skin's reaction to lower temperatures and drier conditions calls for an addition to our product lists, means some money will have to be spent. But perhaps with a disciplined self-care regimen - that includes ample hydration and an informed understanding of your skin concerns - you may not have to add too many products to your routine.

READ MORE: As an industry dependent on human touch, how has beauty adapted to changes forced by Covid-19? 

When we talk skin, we immediately focus on the face, but skincare also requires a full body approach. Yes, when we're in public, people can only see our eyes, foreheads, hands, and ankles now, but that doesn't mean we should skimp on moisture and hydration. Nobody likes ashy ankles. 

Personally, I don't like getting rained on, but skincare-wise, I think Natasha Bedingfield may have been onto something when she sang "feel the rain on your skin".

You'll find out why a little later.

But first, Playgirl and Playboy brand custodian Zaweer Ebrahim, shares some practical advice on how to prepare your skin for the harsh cold of winter while also surviving the lockdown.

This is what Zaweer told W24: 

Reduce your shower temperature

Everybody loves a hot shower on a cold winter’s day; however, hot showers are a common cause of skin problems and can worsen other existing skin issues. Nobody wants to hear this, but hot water combined with soap will soften your skin and slowly strip away its natural oily protective barriers. Hot bathwater is no better. Cool your shower temperature to keep in the skin's natural moisture and prevent dry or irritated, itchy skin.

Use a humidifier to increase the level of moisture in the air

Humidifiers slowly release steam into the air which helps to ease the symptoms of flu and cold, and also relieve scratchy throats and dry nasal passages. Dry air is one of the key reasons why skin tends to be itchy and excessively dry, so placing a humidifier in your house is a great tool to add moisture to the air, and to your skin. 

Choose the right body lotion

Winter weather is a common cause of dry skin and so is exposure to harsh chemicals. It is important to choose the right body lotion that can help you prevent and restore dry skin.  

READ MORE: A guide to 10 indulgent hand creams you can shop for all the scrubbing you've been doing 

Alright now let's... face it (see what I did there) - what's the difference between dry and dehydrated skin? 

This is what experts at Eau Thermale Avène say:

Dry skin

Dry skin can be identified in degrees. It is possible to have normal skin that is in good health, but is "naturally dry". A case of "common" dry skin is called xerosis. Some people have skin that is naturally drier than others and this worsens with age. Dry, cold winter weather, and also wind and sun are skin-drying factors. 

Certain cleansing products can be harmful to the epidermis since they contain surfactants with detergent, irritant effects. With eczema and particularly atopic dermatitis, the skin becomes pale and dry. In rare cases, nutritional deficiencies (vitamins, magnesium or fatty acids) can aggravate dryness. 

Dehydrated skin

About 60% of the body, including the dermis, is made up of water. This is not the case for the epidermis, which has a surface layer acting as an interface between the very humid inner environment and the outside air which is much drier. Whether you have naturally dry, combination, oily, or normal skin, it can be dehydrated by environmental aggression.  

Nimue Skin Technology summarised the difference as follows;

Consumer research shows that dry and dehydrated skin is the second biggest concern in the skincare industry. This need is most prevalent during seasonal and climate changes, where skin becomes tight, flaky or itchy, sensitive and dull. Although they look and feel very similar, dry and dehydrated skin are two distinctly different skin conditions that are treatable.   

Dry skin is a skin type that you're genetically born with, whereas dehydrated skin is influenced by external factors such as your eating (and drinking) habits, overall health and quality of sleep.

READ MORE: No alcohol for 21 days? Your skin might thank you later 

When it comes to skincare, we never give problems without solutions. How do we prevent our skin from withering in the face of winter's onslaught? 

We water it. 

No, this is not like the response people with naturally good skin give when curious admirers ask them what they use to achieve an almost flawless visage.  

A number of professional skincare brands have hydration-focused ranges available for people with dry or dehydrated skin, formulated to work in conjunction with treating their pre-existing skin concerns.  

If it's a high-end solution you're after, this is what Chanel Beauty has to offer: 

Even through a screen, you can make a difference. Get yourself noticed with a fresh, illuminated complexion (I believe Xhosa people call this ikhom-khom) and plumped skin.

Chanel recommends a trifecta of radiance-revealing skin perfectors. 

1. On cleansed skin, deliver intense hydration with the Chanel Hydra Micro Beauty Serum, R2 230 at Woolworths beauty counters 

hydrating skincare for winter

2. Apply radiance-revealing skincare with the Hydra Beauty Camellia Water Cream all over the face; this will encourage the skin to glow, R1 000 at Edgars

winter skincare

3. Refresh the skin at anytime with Hydra Beauty Essence Mist (price not available) 

winter sincare

My top recommendation: 

Eau Thermale Avène Thermal Spring Water, 150ml at R169.95  (50ml at R85.00 ; 300ml at R229.00) 

While we're on the subject of mist, this is my top recommendation for all-round face and body hydration. I enjoy it best after a hot shower and in summer I use it as often as I sip on sparkling water. As a can of... water, it's a lesser spoken of cult favourite, but it is becoming increasingly popular because there's actually more to it. 

winter skincare remedies

Originating as rain, Avène Thermal Spring Water follows a 40-year journey through the Cevennes Mountain aquifer, emerging clean and pure in the small French village of Avène. Natural and unique in its composition, Avène Thermal Spring Water is bacteriologically pure, has a low mineral content, and has a large variety of anions, cations, and trace elements.

The 2 to 1 Calcium/Magnesium ratio makes it exceptional among dermatological thermal spring waters and may explain its skin-healing promoting action. It is the source of an entire range of products for sensitive, intolerant and allergic skin.

You can also use it for these purposes: following a surgical procedure; to combat facial redness; to calm skin irritation due to sunburn; to calm and soothe nappy rash; following make-up removal; following shaving; following a facial; following exercise; following hair removal.

Elizabeth Arden

I also use the Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Miracle Hydrating Mist on my face when it begins to feel tight even though I have typically oily skin. Before the pandemic, I would also spritz it at the end of a flight. R395 at Foschini Beauty  

winter skincare

That's the bit of rain on your skin I was referring to, but treating winter skin requires the right cleansers and creams too.

READ MORE: Why not peel away a layer of your skin to reverse winter's harmful effects on your skin?

Below, are a few moisturisers and cleansers we recommend for winter skin:


Dermalogica intensive moisture cleanser 150 ml, R525 at Dermalogica concept stores

A light, creamy cleanser that removes impurities while actively nourishing dry, depleted skin. This emollient, lipid-enriched formula cleanses skin while helping to minimise damage of vital proteins and lipids that defend against dryness. 

hydrating skincare

Dermalogica skin smoothing cream 100 ml, R1 200 at Dermalogica concept stores

I've been using this for over six months, and my face genuinely feels nourished after I apply it in the morning. This next-generation formulation of the best-selling moisturiser features state-of-the-art Active HydraMesh Technology to infuse skin with 48 hours of continuous hydration and help protect against environmental stress. 

hydrating skincare


Hydra-Essentiel Rich Cream - Very Dry Skin, R675 at Woolworths beauty counters

A rich, silky hydrating formula for very dry skin.

A featherweight formula with the richness of a balm that leaves no oily residue on the skin. The lightweight texture envelopes the skin in instant comfort. Your skin's capacity to retain moisture is restored, and it remains intensely hydrated, no matter the circumstances. 

hydrating skincare


Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly, R300 at Woolworths beauty counters

24-hour hydrator with Clean Shield Technology™ locks in the good - like moisture - and filters out the bad. Strengthens skin's moisture barrier and improves resiliency. Unique water-jelly texture feels fresh, penetrates quickly. Oil-free formula is non-sticky, leaves no residue. Skin is smooth, strong and healthy with a pure, clean glow. 

hydrating skincare


Hydro Boost Water Gel Cleanser 200ml, R124.99 at Clicks

This one rakes in all the rave reviews on social media. This is a non-sticky lightweight formula that allows you to keep skin supple, clean and healthy looking and giving it a boost of vital hydration. 

winter skincare


Nuxe Crème Fraîche De Beauté Cream, R495 at Truworths beauty counters 

Hydration and protection for sensitive skin and all skin types. This moisturising cream with plant milks and algae extract provides 48-hour hydration, soothes and protects the skin from pollution. The skin looks fresh, soft and full, all day long. 

winter sincare


Eucerin AQUAporin ACTIVE for dry skin 50ml, R229 at Dis-Chem 

Skin needs water to work efficiently and effectively. Well-hydrated skin is smooth and supple and looks radiant. Eucerin AQUAporin ACTIVE for dry skin is an innovative face moisturiser that enhances the skin's own hydration system and leaves skin supple, smooth and radiant.  

hydrating skincare


L'Oreal Dermo Expert Triple Active Cream 50ml, R114.95 at Dis-Chem 

L'Oreal Triple Active Day Multi-protection Moisturiser 50ml has been enriched with Vitamin E, ceramide and UV filter. It offers long lasting hydration, protection and radiance for your skin.

hydrating skincare


Esse Sensitive Hydro Moisturiser 50ml, R585 from Faithful to Nature

The Esse Sensitive Hydro Moisturiser settles sensitive skin by optimising the health of your skin's microbiome, which the skin's immune system is modulated by. Prebiotics improve rough, red skin and reduce irritation by favouring the growth of beneficial microbes; while probiotics improves the population of the beneficial microbes. A balanced skin microbiome will result in improved moisture retention and fuller, healthier skin. 

hydrating skincare

Now don't forget to keep drinking water!

Additional information and images provided by featured brands. 

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