Winter Skin Surprise: It's Not What You Think!

Winter Skin Surprise: It's Not What You Think!

Have you ever wondered why your skin needs so much love and care during winter, or should I ask why we need so much more love and care? We are not separate entities from our skin; we are just a whole being.  So maybe it’s not such a separate issue, but this blog is about skin, so let's start there.

When it starts to get cold, and the temperature starts to drop, the ability of the air to hold moisture also falls, and so does humidity (amount of water vapour suspended in the air). 

If you have ever been in Durban during the summer heat, you know all about the effects of humidity and how that feels. Here is the thing: when you experience a lack of moisture in the air during winter or in a drier climate, it also raises challenges. Like any discussion, there is the sweet spot, the balance point, which we all strive for.  The good news is with love and care, you can find the balance point in your skincare rituals and daily regime.  

We can lose up to 25% of our skin's moisture as the temperature drops. With the lack of moisture in the air, our skin, being the barrier housing our precious beings, takes a knock. The skin can't rely solely on the atmosphere to provide moisture; the atmosphere is far too busy shifting and changing to meet Nature’s changing seasons. And hanging onto water vapour for our skin isn't its sole purpose.

The lack of humidity in the atmosphere has the same effect on our skin as a sponge in a desert; nothing can keep it soft and juicy, so it dries up fast. As it gets cold, we experience the temperature drops, and our bodies react accordingly. Our skin blood vessels constrict to keep us warm, creating less activity in the skin oil gland. When all is aligned, the skin's oil glands keep our skin hydrated and succulent. Less activity in the skin oil glands means fewer natural oils. So our skin is hit with a double whammy: loss of external moisture options and internal moisture sources.

So what do we do about it? If you know anything about me, you know I am going straight for the ice baths or cold shower scenario. If you are anything like my family, you are locking the door behind me as I leave, and even more shouting: ‘Don’t bring the cold back with you!’  Like my lovely family, you are huddled around or cuddled in any source of warmth. That is all good, but indoor heating options seriously dry out the air in the house, not making any magic for your skin. You can imagine how well that goes down as I point out this fact to my family whenever I try to shut off heaters or resist starting a fire. The other thing that is not so wonderful for our skin’ is those lovely warm hot baths and showers. They also strip natural oils from your skin and can leave your skin in a lacklustre state. All these different factors around cold weather result in drier skin, and with the dryness come redness, itching, irritation and the ubiquities dry, cracked lips. Make sure you have AYA Balm on hand for those moments. 

On a tangent, I am from Durban, and there is nothing better than winter in Durban, where there may be a slight chill at times. Winter is bearable and very reasonable. When we used to visit the Western Cape in winter, the only way to describe my horror was emotional breakdown. I knew my husband was ready to move, and I could only envisage agony and pain ahead in the winter months. In an effort of great sacrifice, I started to look for cold pools to swim in (ones that never get a drop of sunshine) and go swimming in the early morning or on the coldest days. After the initial period of horror and agony, my body started to shift and change, and I learned to embrace the cold weather. I began to seek them out, hence the previous ice baths mentioned. I know I have veered to the other side where now, when I swim in the sea, all I can think is the colder, the better. My favourite downtime activity now is dreaming of experiencing a beautiful ice-plunge like any on these from the Lonely Planet list: The World's ten best places to take a cold plunge. 

Believe it or not, ice plunges can give your skin a healthy boost. The cold water triggers a constriction and dilation of blood vessels, which improves circulation. This surge brings oxygen and nutrients to your skin cells, promoting a radiant complexion and potentially even collagen production for a youthful look. While there isn't any scientific proof as yet, it is know to eliminate puffiness, especially around the eyes, reduce swelling and inflammation, including rashes and insect bites, reduce signs of aging, such as  wrinkle and boosts the skin’s healthy glow

And if we aren't keen on rushing off to the first ice bath, MOISTURISE, MOISTURISE and MOISTURISE, in this case: more is always more. Moisturising is like compound interest with a cumulative effect: the more you do, the happier your skin will be, and the more comfortable you will be in your skin. 

Here are a few rituals I love.

I run a beautiful hot shower to warm up and let the pores of my skin open up. Then I slather myself with all over with AYA Naturally Nourishing Oil . AYA Naturally Nourishing Oil is formulated for colder climates. It is heavier in Avocado oil, a carrier oil that forms a protective layer on the skin. This protective layer is what we need as a barrier against the temperature drops and the cold wind blowing on our skin. Did you know that Avocado oil is one of the few vegetable carrier oils that have, in fact, anti-ageing properties? Avocado Oil contains (carotenoids, tocopherols (Vit E) and different plant sterols, being anti-oxidants. Avocado oil is seriously underrated; it also has regenerating properties, especially for dry and damaged skin, as it helps to repair the skin and restore firmness. It is a must in winter as it helps with irritation and chapping. It also makes the best base for a delicious mayonnaise. This receipe from Nourished Kitchen is an absolute beaut. 

Okay, back to the point, massage AYA Naturally Nourishing Oil you have slathered all over you and keep massaging while standing under the shower and allowing it to blend into your skin. I use the oil as a soap. The thing about oil is that everyone thinks you can't cleanse with it, but that isn’t the case. Think of it like this: like attracts like, so when you use oil to cleanse, it pulls off excess oils (and sebum) without stripping your skin of the good stuff it needs. I do use soap on my pits and privates, but never on my whole body. I do have a suggestion regarding soap. In my twenties, I was going on a trip that wasn’t my first choice, and I wasn’t expecting a lot of good times ahead. I asked a friend what the one thing I should take that would make it all bearable. She responded that a luxurious, beautifully scented soap can change anything. Brilliant advice; the trip was slightly more bearable.  I always advise getting the best quality handcrafted soap with scents that resonate with your soul and only using it on your pits and bits because you don’t want to mess unnecessarily with your skin's microbiome.

A hot bath is called for when it is too cold, and I sense that my hands are just too blocks of ice. And a hot bath is where getting the biggest bang for your buck comes out. I choose the most delicious-smelling bath salts,  ensuring that every ingredient on the list is recognisable. Getting into a bath with unidentifiable ingredients will freak me out completely. A long, hot soak is called for now when I am in the bathtub. It is the perfect time to gently smooth AYA Naturally Nourishing Intense all over my face and decolletage, allowing the heat to work with the oil and deeply penetrate and moisturise.  Face oil masks are an absolute treat as a face oil mask ritual holds many magnificent benefits for your skin that needs nourishment. 

If I don’t feel like a full AYA Naturally Nourishing Intense oil wash moment, I apply AYA Cream after the shower when my skin is still lightly damp. Have you ever noticed how much smoother and softer your skin feels when moisturising as you get out of the shower? When you put AYA Cream on while your skin is still slightly damp, the slight residue of water on your skin’s surface helps to create a barrier that assists in locking in the moisture. Applying on slightly damp skin helps AYA Cream to be absorbed more effectively. Also, at AYA Natural Skin, we are huge proponents of preventing waste; when you use AYA Cream on dry skin, products can evaporate before your skin has had a chance to embrace and benefit from the love fully. Just one point: slight dampness means you don’t want your skin too wet. If your skin is too damp, then the product just gets diluted.

And finally, when Summer comes around again, think carefully about whether you want to resist the heat and freak out about frizzy hair (no one likes a bad hair day!). Instead, think about a good skin day and know your skin loves to soak up the summertime humidity.


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