Friday Post: Some Basic (But Splendidly Helpful, I Hope) Winter Skincare

My face hasn’t been having much fun lately. A couple of weeks ago it shut up shop, pulled down the blinds and went home for the holidays, leaving nothing but a husk behind. Dull, dry and utterly lifeless. I made rather a lot of fuss about it at the time but in retrospect am not entirely sure why. I knew what to do, I did it, and it worked. And the reason I knew? Kristy Goodger of Elemental Herbology, the beauty brand that’s carved a niche out of the market by focusing on season-specific skincare.

If you know your skincare you may also know the following but it does bear repeating, especially as we’re heading into a proper cold snap today. And Kristy was kind enough to go through the whole thing with me again yesterday morning, so here goes…

According to Kristy, the big winter face-fail is a yin thing. ‘In Chinese philosophy summer is yang and winter is yin – and yin means hibernation. So when winter kicks in, all your skin’s regular functions start slowing down.’ Which means? ‘First of all it secretes less sebum, which is the stuff that creates a watertight seal. Also known as the barrier function, once it’s gone it’s much harder to keep moisture in and irritants out.’ Helpfully our barrier functions wave the white flag just when we need them the most, continues Kristy. ‘It’s cold, it’s windy, you’ve got low humidity outside and central heating inside and you’re going from hot to cold and back again. You really need that barrier to be all in one piece or you can expect dryness, redness, sensitivity and flaking.’

Check, check, check and check…and apparently, adding more moisturiser just won’t cut it. ‘You need to replace what’s been lost and seal that barrier back up again,’ says Kristy. ‘Serums are great at getting nutrients into your skin – something with lots of antioxidants and vitamins will nourish and protect. Facial oils are rich in essential fatty acids, which fill the holes in the barrier and help your skin hold onto moisture. Then you can apply your moisturiser  – something rich enough to cushion your skin from the changing temperatures, with ingredients such as shea butter, glycerine and soy lethicin.’

What I did… was fatten up my skincare routine with Cowshed Raspberry Seed Anti-Oxidant Facial Oil (£35) massaged into my skin evening and night. I also swapped my regular cleanser for the very wonderful Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm (£30) which I applied twice at a time, first to cleanse and then as a 5-minute treatment mask. And moisturisers? Steam Cream (£9.95) and The Organic Pharmacy Double Rose Ultra (£43.95) did a sterling job of soothing and protecting. I also added in the occasional layer of Clinique Moisture Surge (£30), which felt like a tall drink of water for my parched skin but probably wouldn’t have been quite enough without the aforementioned fats. Serum I didn’t quite get round to. Don’t tell Kristy.

Next offender, a tardy cell turnover. This means it takes forever for fresh, plump cells to rise to the surface of the skin while the old ones start piling up above them, all dry and curling up at the corners and trapping the light that should be bouncing back up and giving good glow. And because your blood flow’s also getting pretty lazy you can whistle for your healthy, rosy hue – in fact, if there’s any lustre left at this point, it’ll be a pretty pallid affair

As is so often the case with anything that goes wrong with your skin ever, exfoliation should sort you right out. Look for resurfacing products with spherical beads (rough edges can scratch your skin, and God knows it can’t take much more) along with gentle chemical exfoliants and fruit acids to drag cell turnover up to speed. It’s also as well to choose a product that puts good stuff back into your skin at the same time – honey, fats, essential oils etc. ‘Gently steaming your skin or soaking a muslin cloth in comfortably hot water and using it as a compress will bring blood to the surface too,’ adds Kristy.

What I did… was switch between Elemental Herbology Facial Glow (£36.50) and Ole Henriksen African Red Tea Sugar Glow Face Scrub (£35). What I also did…. was remove them (and my cleanser) with Emma Hardie Cleansing Cloths (£10 for 3), which are backed with muslin for added exfoliation. What I then also did… was pick away a few flakes around the sides of my nose with a pair of tweezers, which set full recovery back a few days.

Again, please don’t tell Kristy. Enjoy the snow, see you next week.



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  1. […] back. There’s been a lot of restoration work going on in my bathroom (all lovingly detailed here and here) but I credit Emma Hardie Amazing Face Rejuvenating Night Cream (£56 for a pot the size […]



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