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by Dr.Ying-Chin Wu

Dr. Wu’stop guide for reliving dry and sensitive skin and 6 skincare tips for winter

Out of the four seasons in a year, winter is the time when skin problems are the most common. In addition to common factors such as age, UV ray, air pollution, and stress, a low temperature environment would cause blood vessels to contract, which in turn reduces moisture content in the skin and lowers secretion of grease from sebaceous gland. This oil-water imbalance compromises the skin's immune and defense functions, and is the main cause of damage to the "hydrolipidic film," the skin's natural barrier, which gives rise to problems such as roughness, wrinkles, itch, allergy, and redness. So what can we do to prevent these problems? Here are the six tips from Dr. Wu on maintaining healthy skin condition in winter. 

1.   Product adjustment: rotate your skincare solutions

Just like we rotate our clothes between seasons, we do so for what we put on our faces. In winters, we should choose skincare solutions with a focus on hydration and nourishment, and try to avoid skin-brightening, dead cell removal, anti-aging, skin renewal, and other products that might cause irritation. However, be sure not to replace all products in one go, but do so progressively and give the skin time to adapt. We recommend switching products from the first step (cleansing) to the final steps (lotion/cream) of skincare.

2. Mild cleansing: cleanse skin using gentle solutions and methods

The skin contains less grease under the low temperature of winter, which makes the skin susceptible to cracks and flaking. We should reduce the frequency of which we wash our faces to avoid damaging the hydrolipidic film. Furthermore, choose lotion-based products with gentle ingredients and slight acidity, and avoid products that emphasize on skin-brightening, oil regulation, or aggressive cleansing. People with dry skin may simply wash face with nothing but clean water in day time.

3. Allergy prevention: ease up on dead cell removal

Winter is the time when skin is most sensitive, and we should do what we can to minimize irritation and exposure to allergens. However, this does not mean that we should stop dead cell removal altogether, as moderate cleaning does promote skin renewal. We recommend doing this once a month, but do not use abrasive tools that are too rough, as excessive abrasion may expose lower skin layers, making the skin sensitive to irritation.

4. Focus on hydration: use essence oils wisely

Moisture content of our skin drops under low temperature, which makes hydration an essential step. We recommend choosing products that contain simple ingredients with a hydration focus, such as toners, and combine with the use of essence oil to extend the hydration effect. You can choose essence oils of lighter texture for easier absorption into the basal layer, which in turn reduces risk of acne, locks in moisture for extended period of time, and helps skin resist against external irritations.

5. Skin renewal: repair the damaged skin

Besides hydration, one other thing that people should take note of is skin repair, as drastic changes in temperature during winter times weakens the skin's defense mechanism. This is especially true for aged and sensitive skin, and you should add repairing solutions to your night time skincare routine to help develop resistance against irritation the next day, and thereby reduce chances of inflammation and allergy.

6. Sun protection: choose sunscreens of SPF30 and above

Although the winter sun is not as damaging as the summer and the strength of UV ray varies with season, there is never a time when we are free from the threat of UV ray. Compared to summer, the strength of UVB (short wavelength) is reduced by approximately 80% in winter, whereas the strength of the most damaging and deepest penetrating UVA is reduced by only 50%. For this reason, sun protection is not something we should completely ignore in winter, and we recommend choosing sunscreens with SPF higher than 30, as they offer adequate protection and pose less burden on the skin.

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