Oh (cold) snap!
We’re living in a polar vortex right now. The temperature on my dashboard reads -18°C, but it feels like -36° C with the wind chill. Here are five things I’m doing now to protect my delicate dermis (human sock not included).
1. Layer on more
Just like wearing fleeced-lined tights underneath your pants, I’m wearing an extra layer of moisturizer – in the form of a potent hyaluronic acid gel – underneath my regular moisturizer.
I’m still using the Kellett Clear line for adult acne and fine lines, but in the wintertime I find that their gel moisturizer is not enough to keep my flaking skin at bay (especially after a laser treatment when sheets of skin can fall off at any given time during the day!). Last month I started using their new Peptide Gel, a very concentrated solution of moisture-binding hyaluronic acid and collagen-stimulating peptides.
Conventional moisturizers work by putting a film of oil on the skin surface that prevents moisture from evaporating whereas this HA-based gel hydrates the skin by binding water molecules to the skin surface. I was instructed by my derm to apply it first thing (before applying any active ingredients like retinol and vitamin C) twice a day, morning and night, and always right after cleansing to seal in more moisture. The Peptide Gel feels a bit sticky at first when you spread it across your skin – this is apparently a process called hydrogen bonding whereby the sugar molecules are ‘looking’ for water molecules to latch on to. After a few seconds the stickiness is gone and my skin looks noticeably more plump and dewy. I slop on my gel moisturizer then sunscreen spray to seal the deal and voilà, a less haggard mug.
2. Protect the pucker
I’m more of a Chapstick girl than a lipstick one. So during the day I stick to my layering philosophy on the pucker too. First I apply a Blistex balm with SPF in it because, remember, UVA rays are also present in the winter and can be even stronger since it reflects off ice and snow! Then I smear on some kind of oil-based product, such as Aquaphor Lip Repair, which creates a protective barrier and conditions the lip. At night, sticks can be too waxy so before bed I apply a thick layer of either plain old petroleum jelly, or in a pinch I’ll use eye cream. The anti-aging peptides in most eye creams can help with lip lines. Bonus!
3. Spill some oil
I know I’m not supposed to but I take hot showers. Totally aware that hot water can strip your skin dry and lead to alligator skin, I can’t help but turn the knob to heavenly hot once I’m in the shower; it’s the only thing that will normalize my body temperature in these end-of-days climate. However I’m very strategic about it also: Instead of bar soap I use a cleansing oil by Cake Beauty; ready for me when I step out is a bottle of their rejuvenating Inca body oil, which I layer underneath whatever drugstore body lotion on the bathroom counter, usually it’s an Aveeno, Vaseline, or Curel brand, that I slather on top. Notice the layering continuum.
4. Scrub regularly
When you’re layering on heavier moisturizers and sunscreens, it’s important to exfoliate. And it shouldn’t take a lot of time – in my opinion, I think this double cleansing trend with facial oil is a marketing gimmick. Even if you wear a lot of makeup, a good cleanser should be able to remove it in one go. Friends and family are always surprised when I tell them that I exfoliate every night, using the Kellett Polishing Gel Cleanser. “Isn’t that too harsh?” They chirp. I reply with feel my face, soft amirite? My cleanser has tiny spherical beads in an anti-microbial gel base formula, so it’s actually quite hydrating.
For the bod, I’ve got two tubs of scrubs in the shower: one is a salt and sugar scrub by Consonant and the other is a simple homemade recipe of grape seed oil and sugar gifted to me from a colleague over the holidays (thanks Frankie!). I alternate between the two, 3-4 times a week. Exfoliating also helps moisturizers penetrate deeper into the skin. That’s useful if you’re using topicals with active ingredients like retinol, vitamin C, mild acids or acne treatments. Once a week I exfoliate my heels and do the wear-socks-at-night trick with a mixture of glycolic acid layered under lotion or petroleum jelly. It works wonders.
5. Treat yo’ self
If you want clearer, healthier skin by summer, stop whining about the snow and ice and skate over to your dermatologist’s office. Seek professional help to repair your skin woes now because wintertime is an ideal time to start a series of non-invasive treatments like lasers, peels, and/or microdermabrasion for maintenance. You should take advantage of the fact you get to bundle up and hide your skin more in the winter, which is helpful if you’re bashful about post-procedure redness or flaking. I just hammered out my skin repair plan with Helen L., the senior medical aesthetician at DLK on Avenue in Toronto, who customized a targeted treatment program that includes a laser peel to smooth out my bumpy skin texture and improve acne scarring.
In between my medically-supervised laser sessions, I may revisit The Freeze Clinic, a new skin spot in Toronto that I recently discovered, for a more gentler approach. They specialize in just one pretty awesome facial called the cold laser treatment, performed by Jessica, a former tanner with a now milky clear complexion. Her signature facial is a 4-in-1 treatment that includes diamond-tipped microdermabrasion, oxygen infusion, low level light therapy, and micro current stimulation. Lots of soothing rose water is also used. I had two done back in December when I couldn’t afford any social downtime and needed to look refreshed for the all the festive fêtes. The facial helped me look awake when I was feeling far from that.