Daily Defence
04 Oct 2019

Daily Defence

The hot summer days will soon make way for golden leaves and chilly Autumn breezes. Changes in weather can have a dramatic impact on skin, so now is the time to prepare before winter makes its icy appearance.

Sometimes you just can’t win. When temperatures take a tumble, our natural instinct is to hunker down with a mug of something warm and comforting, but as the heating dial goes up, skin moisture levels go down. Equally, the minute we venture outside our skin is assaulted by blasts of wintry air, which can be just as drying. 

Luckily help is at hand. With a little extra TLC you and your clients can keep skin hydrated and healthy as winter approaches. Even if they can’t quite hang on to their tan, their radiant glow will be the perfect accessory to compliment their winter wardrobe.

Damage limitation

Before preparing your clients’ skin for the delightful onslaught of central heating, frigid air, freezing cold rain and bone shaking icy blasts, it’s advisable to address any damage they may have sustained over the summer months. They might have spent many a happy moment soaking up the rays on a sun-baked beach, but what has all that UV exposure done to their skin? Even people who religiously slather themselves in bucket loads of sun cream may still experience negative effects such as dryness, or reactions to the sunscreen itself if they used one with a high chemical content. Underlying pigmentation issues often rear their heads as summer draws to a close, with brown patches and uneven skintone becoming more obvious. Tackle it with Skin Ultimate from the Advanced Nutrition Programme™, which contains Pine Bark to reduce uneven skintone* and Environ’s Focus Care™ Radiance+ range.

Fortify your fortress

A key reason for skin becoming dryer in winter is that ceramide levels drop. These make up 50% of the lipid layer in the protective stratum corneum, think of them as part of the mortar that holds skin cells together. They’re responsible for ‘waterproofing’ skin by preventing Trans Epidermal Water Loss (TEWL), while creating a fortress to stop external aggressors such as pollutants and bacteria penetrating the lower layers. Got clients who live in busy cities? Ceramides are part of their go-to solution for protecting skin from the pore-clogging grit and grime lurking in urban atmospheres.

Unfortunately, just as we need them most – in the throes of harsh, wintry conditions – ceramide levels start to plummet. This is partly down to changes to the skin’s pH and the constant switching from warm to cold environments, so replenishing them topically and orally becomes even more important. 

High and Dry

The dryer the air, the dryer the skin. Admittedly, the air might not feel particularly dry when you’re caught in a torrential downpour minus a brolly, but the atmospheric humidity is actually far lower than in the summer months. This, combined with our beloved central heating and even our car heaters, can quickly increase Trans Epidermal Water Loss leading to tight, itchy, cracked skin. 

Tackling parched winter complexions calls for two lines of attack: preventing skin from drying out in the first place, and rehydrating it if it does. Your client can take some simple measures at home to ward off the effects of their cosy central heating. Investing in a humidifier or placing bowls of water on top of radiators will help to keep the air moist, while limiting shower time and using warm, rather than hot, water will stop skin drying out so quickly (their hair will thank them too).

When prevention tactics don’t work and skin is doing a good impression of the Sahara, it’s tempting to eschew summer’s lightweight formulations in favour of their heavier, richer cousins. Step away from the gloop. Environ® founder Dr Des Fernandes warns against smothering skin in excessively rich formulations because it can deplete its Natural Moisturising Factors (NMFs), which means that it starts relying on the excessive ‘artificial’ moisture provided by the creams rather than learning to moisturise itself. 

“The balance of NMFs in the skin is upset when people use rich creamy products”, says Dr Des. “People love them and one clue to their surreptitious and nefarious effects comes from when they stop using these creams. They immediately complain of dry skin. What they don’t realise is that the reason their skin becomes dry is not because of the new less-oily product but because their skin is virtually depleted of NMFs and their stratum corneum is incapable of holding in the water. All because the skin is under the misapprehension that moisture levels are adequate”. Far better to use lighter, vitamin A rich products which normalise the skin’s own moisture production, along with hyaluronic acid and ceramides for an extra anti-ageing hydration boost.

Your clients might be tempted to slough away dull winter skin, but exfoliation can also deplete NMF’s, as well as damaging the protective stratum corneum. The good news is that if they follow a tailor made skincare regime rich in the right ingredients, they won’t need to.

The right kind of protection

It may sound counter intuitive, but protecting skin against the sun is still important after we kiss goodbye to summer. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the need to wear sunscreen all year round, but it’s not quite as simple as that. SPFs only protect against UVB rays, which cause burning, and these aren’t actually present in the UK from May to March. What your clients should be wearing is a sunscreen that offers UVA protection. These rays don’t burn, but they can reach skin even on murky, overcast days and cause free radical damage which may only become apparent years later. Not all sun creams or foundations offer UVA protection, so be sure to check the label, and don’t forget to reapply throughout the day when possible. Adding a hefty dose of antioxidants, orally and topically, will provide a second line of defence by neutralising free radicals generated by UV rays and blue light. Clients who are on level 4 - 5 of Environ’s Skin EssentiA ® and Youth EssentiA ® ranges will benefit from additional protection from the high levels of retinyl palmitate. 

Arm your army

When we’re healthy on the inside, it’s reflected in our skin. The opposite is also true, ever noticed your skin looking dull when you’re battling a hideous case of the flu? Making sure your clients are supporting their immune system is key to keeping their post-holiday glow. 

Apart from eating a healthy diet full of fruit and vegetables, supplementing with vitamin C and Zinc will give your internal army a boost. Around 80% of the immune system is found in the gut, so probiotics are essential for making sure there’s enough beneficial bacteria to ward off persistent winter bugs. Don’t forget that the skin itself is an active immune organ, it encounters all manner of toxins and pathogens on a daily basis which it actively fights in order to stop them entering the body. Making sure it’s properly nourished will help it to do its job.

* Ni, Z et al Phytotherapy Research 2002