The nights have well and truly drawn in, the heating is on high and trips outside require the snuggest coat in the wardrobe. The depths of winter have truly arrived. And with them? The dreaded winter skin.
As weather conditions take a turn for the worse, winter can play havoc with the balance of our skin. Dry, dehydrated, rough and uncomfortable complexions can be as much a sign of the season as the plunge in temperatures.
What we think of as winter skin typically occurs due to the dramatic changes in environment that become part of our day to day: moving from toasty central heated homes to the chill streets. These changing temperatures have been shown to strip skin of its protective barrier* and Natural Moisturising Factors (NMFs)*. Skin is dehydrated more quickly, and if that continues unchecked, is in for an uncomfortable time, with tightness, flaking, dullness and uneven skin tone all on the cards.
Fortunately, much as you change up your wardrobe for winter, there are a few key ingredients that you can include in your skin care regimen to return your skin to its natural healthy norm. These ingredients are five of the best vitamins and nutrients for dry winter skin. Omega fatty acids, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, vitamin A and beneficial bacteria are your skincare equivalents of toasty polo-necks and cashmere knits to keep you cosy when the temperatures tumble.
Omega-3 and other fatty acids are dry skin’s luminous best friend. These ingredients act as an internal moisturiser for skin, helping to ease the uncomfortable tightness and dryness that so often appears when the seasons change.
Research suggests that in addition to its dry skin benefits, fish oils can soothe inflammation and improve the skin’s barrier function** – which helps to keep moisture locked within the skin, rather than being sapped by cold winter air.
While omegas and fatty acids are sometimes found in topical creams, they’re particularly useful when they are ingested. Omegas are found in foods such as avocados, nuts, seeds and oily fish (mackerel, salmon and sardines) – meaning your avocado on toast could actually be helping soothe your skin. Add a slice of smoked salmon, a sprinkle of sunflower seeds and you’ve got yourself a plate-full of skin friendly delicacies.
At the Advanced Nutrition Programme, Skin Omegas+ is one of our hero skin supplements. Containing omega-3 from sustainable fish oil sources and omega 6 from evening primrose oil, plus vitamin A for added skin support to nourish dry skin and support a return to a youthful glow.
Troubles with the skin barrier is one of the main reasons our skin can suffer in the cold winter months.
In winter, we spend a lot of time moving between dry, centrally heated houses and the chilly outdoors. These unavoidable seasonal necessities all contribute to that dry, uncomfortable feeling by depleting the Natural Moisturising Factors (NMFs) in the skin. These are the substances in the skin that typically help keep it healthy, hydrated and protected.
Ceramides can help to ease this, working to protect and strengthen the skin’s barrier function. As a crucial fat that makes up much of the skin’s top barrier layers, ceramides have an important protecting function for the skin. Healthy ceramide levels help to strengthen the skin’s barrier, meaning it is it harder for NMFs to escape and keeping skin protected and moisturised from within.
Having a healthy skin barrier can also help reduce Trans-Epidermal Water Loss (TEWL): how much water is lost through the skin. The Advanced Nutrition Programme’s Skin Moisture Lock contains ceramides alongside hyaluronic acid, and in our trials improved TEWL by 20% in 12 weeks.
Winter skin = dry skin. And when it comes to ingredients to restore and replenish moisture – hyaluronic acid is a much-hyped hydrating hero. With one molecule of hyaluronic acid capable of holding 1000 times its weight in water, the substance is a powerful thirst-quenching ingredient for winter skin.
Hyaluronic acid is naturally found in the body, and in the skin it helps to plump out the gaps between cells. The amount of hyaluronic acid we produce drops as we age, so adding the molecule back into the skin is a recipe for radiant, hydrated skin. Thanks to the volume and moisture it restores to skin, not only is hyaluronic acid a hydrating hero, but it also has impressive skin anti-aging benefits. What’s not to like?
Known as a popular ingredient in creams and masks, hyaluronic acid may be equally, if not more potent, if included in the diet. Trials have shown that hydration and luminosity levels both improve with the use of a hyaluronic acid supplement***.
In our own research, the Advanced Nutrition Programme’s Skin Moisture Lock has shown significant moisture benefiting properties for dry skin. Containing hyaluronic acid and ceramides, Skin Moisture Lock improved elasticity by 64%, smoothness by 20% and wrinkle-depth by 28% over 12 weeks.
Alongside ingredients to moisturise and hydrate dry skin, vitamins and nutrients that support overall skin health are an essential during the winter months. Vitamin A is one lesser considered nutrient that can make a huge impact on dry skin, with numerous functions that make it powerful in your winter skin survival guide.
You may be familiar with vitamin A in its topical anti-aging derivative: retinol, which is beloved for its youth boosting properties. In this form however, it is not always synonymous with moisturising properties.
As a supplement, vitamin A is a vital ingredient for skin health *EFSA claim. One of its core benefits during winter months is its powerful skin renewal properties. Dry skin and dead skin, can give a flaky, rough complexion during the winter months, but vitamin A can help cell renewal to reveal healthy skin underneath.
The vitamin encourages skin cells to replenish and rejuvenate, so dry skin and dead skin cells are renewed, leaving a healthier complexion in their wake.
It may sound counter-intuitive, but adding a gentle exfoliant into your topical routine may also be beneficial. Removing dead skin cells with products featuring liquid exfoliants such as Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), for example lactic acid or glycolic acid, is a gentle wat to revitalise the skin and encourage a return a healthy glow.
With the stresses of winter and seasonal changes causing all manner of skin challenges, ensuring that the body is balanced inside and out important to support and maintain health and well-being. Beneficial bacteria can help to achieve this soothing equilibrium, plus there is emerging evidence that certain beneficial bacteria can provide significant benefits to skin health.
Advanced Nutrition Programme’s Skin Youth Biome for example, synergises four strains of bacteria selected for a youthful, smooth complexion. In addition to supporting a strong skin barrier, our case studies have shown dramatic hydration and moisture retaining benefits. After a 12 week study, there was a 43% improvement to hydration, and a 25% improvement to TEWL – saving graces for our dehydrated faces.
Interested in our Advanced Nutrition Programme supplement range? Learn more here.