Has your skin's texture changed over the last little while?
Have you noticed tiny bumps under your skin or a raw, red tone to your face and hands? Does it feel slightly itchy and uncomfortable? Does it look flat and crepey? If so, you may be suffering from a dose of 'winter skin'.
So, what exactly is winter skin, what causes it and how do we combat it? Today's expert is skin guru Niamh Ryan, a powerhouse of knowledge for all things skin-related. She says that winter skin is a result of exposure to dry, cold, frosty and windy weather, which can cause a histamine reaction in our skin and strip it of its natural lipid barrier. Read more of her tips below for getting to grips with this uncomfortable seasonal skin reaction.
There are some super easy, practical ways we can combat the cold affecting our skin - something as simple as swapping your moisturiser for a lipid-rich one, using a gentle oil cleanser, easing up on your use of exfoliating acids, popping a bowl of water on the radiator at home or investing in an extra-hydrating hand cream can make a massive difference.
So now it's time to bundle up and lather up with these SOS skin saviours which will ensure your skin is shining, even if the sun isn't.
Chapped, cracked lips are unwelcome winter guests. To keep your pout protected, remember to use a lip balm daily. Try Aliso Certified Organic Lip Balm, €12.95, which is jam-packed with five organic superfood oils, shea butter and vitamin E. Available from pharmacies nationwide and cloud10beauty.com
If your skin has become so dry and parched this winter that it's actually started to crack, this antibacterial repair cream could be a lifesaver. It is designed to help heal cracked and ultra-dehydrated skin, and even perioral dermatitis. This gem from Avène is a great practical addition to your skincare arsenal as it's suitable for children and adults alike, and even babies - it's meant to be a brilliant soother for nappy rash. Avène Cicalfate Cream, €13, from pharmacies nationwide
Skin with a damaged barrier (or defence system) is super common during the winter months, and as we age. This moisturiser is an anhydrous (waterless) product that acts as a 'sentinel' for our skin to protect against environmental triggers that cause stress. The cream minimises skin discomfort, burning and itching, and helps build a healthy barrier function with the aid of calming evening primrose and borage seed oils. A great one for mature skin. Dermalogica Barrier Repair, €48.50, from skin clinics nationwide, Harvey Nichols and dermalogica.ie
If you're looking for an all-natural, chemical nasty-free skin salve, try this bestseller - a lightweight moisturiser that melts into the skin and can be used on the face, hands, nails and body. It's made with natural sweet almond and olive oils, aloe vera, vitamin E and milk protein that can increase skin elasticity by up to 20pc.
Moo Goo Skin Milk Udder Cream, €10.25, from pharmacies and health stores nationwide
Hands are the hard-working tools of our creativity but they are often overlooked in our skincare rituals (I know mine are). Our hands can get really cracked and dry and sore in the colder winter months. This hand cream is a no-nonsense hard-working humble hero, packed with ceramides, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, niacinamide and a whopping 25pc shea butter. Vitally, it's non-greasy and is absorbed in a jiffy with no oily residue. It's also non-perfumed and suitable for sensitive skin. CeraVe Reparative Hand Cream, €5.50, from pharmacies nationwide
Scalp irritation - including dandruff, dry or sensitive scalp and some types of thinning hair - is a factor in many skin disorders. This shampoo gently cleanses and helps relieve the symptoms of scalp irritation: itchiness, tightness, redness, roughness and sensitivity. This is a super mild, fragrance-free cleanser that can be used on atopic dermatitis and is suitable for children over three years of age.
Eucerin Dermo Capillaire Calming Urea Shampoo, €13, from pharmacies nationwide
Niamh Ryan is an award-winning skin therapist and co-creator of Ella & Jo Cosmetics based in the West of Ireland. She gives brilliant skincare advice on her Instagram page @bellabeautyniamh
How can we keep our skin protected during the winter months?
Add some hydration to the house or office: a humidifier or a bowl of water above or near a radiator or source of heat can make a huge difference to the air. Keeping a hydrating skin spray in your handbag and spritzing throughout the day will also help to boost your skin's moisture levels. Don't overexfoliate or start using lots of active products: when the skin starts getting irritated, it needs calming - think balms and repairing. Increase your hydration: swap out one or two cups of tea or coffee a day for herbal tea, and consider taking a good-quality omega supplement, especially if you suffer with eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis.
What are some of the most common skincare mistakes during the winter?
Oily and sensitive skin types tend to overload their skin at this time of year by adding rich and heavy creams containing shea butter to their routine. It overloads the skin and causes more irritation than help. We also don't mask enough in winter - a good-quality hydrating face mask three to four times a week can save your winter skin. Hydrating sheet masks are amazing but can be messy and cold, plus their cost per use is expensive versus a high-quality cosmeceutical mask.
Name One simple skincare change we should make during cold weather
Layering your skincare. Seal in hydration by using a hyaluronic acid or glycerin-based serum with an oil-based product on top - this will give your skin maximum hydration when it needs it most. It's a game changer.
It's party season! With Christmas get-togethers, dinners, parties and festive bashes, this is the busiest time of year for many of us. And with so many social commitments, it's not surprising that some of us can feel a little bit overwhelmed by it all.