Gingerbread, gaiety and gifts are all blithe and uplifting components of the festive period. Tis’ the season to freely endorse red taffeta whilst consuming enough mince pies to promote a healthy butter-induced ‘glow’. Despite the fact you’ll be plying yourself with a treat too many, tis’ NOT the season to let your shit go and accept dry, flaking skin as an unfortunate byproduct of a bitter winter – not now, not ever.
I’d like to begin by referencing the disturbing occasion that I mistook the curious sprinkles on my mittens for residual Parmesan crumbs. My confusion quickly turned to horror as I realised the mystery shavings were actually dry skin flakes transferred from my face. From that moment on, I have waged war on Jack Frost and made moisturising a Yuletide mission. For those of you who have experienced a similar horror, you’ll understand the need to topically hydrate with aplomb and LOCK that shit in.
For those of you who have experienced the more acute horror of all of the above AND acne, then you’ve come to the right piece of Internet! If your skin is as temperamental as a pre teen Justin Beiber fan, but also flakes like a croissant, I’ve compiled a list of humectants that may as well be the Rescue Rangers of the winter skincare game. Here are my top solutions for miserably unfestive skin, conveniently organized by specific concern – walk with me.
La Roche Posay Gel Physiologique for a gentle but thorough cleanse
I can’t recommend this cleanser highly enough. It’s no-frills, simple and highly effective – in fact, there’s nothing I don’t love about it. The consistency (thick – not quite a gel, not quite a cream), the packaging (hygienic, airtight pump system), the feel (silken) and of course its ability to remove make up and grime (even mascara) without the feelings of tightness and crumbling to follow.
£12 from Boots
Skinceuticals hydrating B5 Serum – hate grease, love hydration?
Then you and this serum will be very happy together. It sinks in so fast you can’t feel anything but plump, dewy goodness that feels like it’s supposed to be there. I forgo moisturizer over the top in favour of my SPF (everyday guys, every single day) and I haven’t experienced a breakout in months.
£43 at Zest Beauty
Weleda Soothing Almond Oil – When stress manifests as spots WITH dryness
This is a nice, simple way to bring your skin back from the verge. It’s non-comedogenic, smells faintly of Frangelico and feels like a decadent, relaxing facial when you massage it in. Don’t be tempted by coconut oil on the face – whilst fine for a quick massage, it’s very heavy and will exacerbate acne further.
Sisley Black Rose Mask – for hangover dry, plane dry or just plain old dry dry skin
Though extravagant, this isn’t simply a moisturising mask, this is the Godzilla of hydration that is worth every British Pound. Put it on and leave it on for as long as you can for an intensely nourishing experience that will also help balance blotchy, aggravated skin. The tube recommends you wipe off excess, but I roll out and use it as a primer if I’m going somewhere (it’s an excellent radiance booster) or just simply go to bed with it on.
£95 from Space NK
Rodin Olio Lusso – For skiers
If you’re heading to the slopes or anywhere the temperatures veer south of 0, then you my friend need simultaneous protection and hydration. Let’s take a moment for oils. Not just for cooking and early JLO videos, this stuff can be applied to skin that’s both dry and sensitive. Olio Lusso is the big daddy of oils and its rich, luxurious texture (and price) are testament to its brilliance. I like to slather it on at night before bed and let all of the natural shit do its thing. It’s much to heavy for the day under normal circumstances but your frozen, wind burnt skin will thank you for it after a day on the piste.
£97 from Net-a-Porter
Mustela Stelatopia Lipid-Replenishing Balm – For flakiness south of your decolletage
Not moisturizing after showering in hard, city water is literally as icky to me as sleeping in mascara. Skin crumbs being mushed into your sheets? No. This moisturizer is something I stole from my infant brothers nursery and have continued to use ever since. It’s super thick – balm like almost, leaving skin plump but not waxy. Hello lipids.
Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Foundation – for smoothness, not scales
This is super light but offers amazing coverage without masking your real skin. It doesn’t settle into crevices (or flakes) and genuinely stays put for HOURS. My only gripe is that I can’t wear it everyday due to the alcohol content, but it’s great for nights out… really great.
£9.99 at Boots
Dior Airflash Foundation – Super fine coverage, no touching
Anything that doesn’t require manhandling your face with grubby public transport fingers is big news for sensitive skin. Hold the can about a foot away from your face and allow that fine-ass mist to settle like a gossamer veil. When used alone this offers super light and very pretty coverage but used over strategically placed concealer will proffer a result akin to travelling with Oprah’s lighting team. Just make sure this is the first thing you put – nicely preened lashes and brows will just end up looking frosted otherwise.
£33 at Boots
Cover FX Natural Finish Oil Free Foundation – For very sensitive skin and rosacea
I’ve recently started using this because it’s the only foundation I’ve ever used that doesn’t make me break out and actually improves my skin texture. It offers medium/light coverage that can be built up. I use their calming primer to start and then buff it in with their chunky little foundation brush. It’s talc, mineral oil and paraben free so is definitely the best option for sensitive skinned Sally’s. Calgary Avansino’s a fan, so there’s that.
£34 at House of Fraser
Other indispensable hydration advice:
- Drink 3 litres of water throughout the day – consistency is key. You should never let yourself become dehydrated.
- Don’t over exfoliate – once or twice a week is fine. Overdoing it can make the dryness worse as the fresh skin becomes very vulnerable and weakened.
- Limit alcohol consumption – chardonnay dries the bejesus out of a dermis.
- SLEEP – try to get 7-8 hours a night.
- Chill out – stress and anxiety will be doing nothing for hydration levels. You need to get your shit together and meditate or take yoga.
- Keep your hands away from your face – grimy tube hands have no place near dewy skin.
- Limit sugar intake – the white stuff, breaking down skin cells since 510 B.C
So what really constitutes a ‘healthy glow’? Is it happiness, love or simply two nice sounding words put together by skincare marketers? Whatever your thoughts, insane hydration levels and 40 winks aplenty are a very, very good place to start.
Generic seasonal greetings and well wishes to all