Is SPF necessary in winter? How our skin changes in the cooler months

The countdown to winter has officially begun. With June just mere days away, the drop in temperature brings with it more than just cosy clothes, unfortunately uber-dehydrated, tight and flakey skin is soon to follow. 

So what happens to our skin during winter exactly and is it really necessary to keep wearing SPF while the clouds and rain are gracing us with their presence?

On the SPF front, the answer is yes, yes it is. According to research by sun care brand, Hamilton, “UV radiation can damage your skin on cool and cloudy days. Temperature is not a good indicator of UV levels and up to 80% of UV radiation passes through clouds.”

And regarding the changes our skin undergoes, well there is a lot we need to be aware of. From protecting the barrier to why we need to swap out products in our routine and how ageing comes into play. 

To learn all about the importance of protection during the harsh weather conditions we are about to face, BD spoke with Liberty Belle Skin Centre dermal clinicians, Jennifer Glebov and Daniela Paolino, to educate us on how we can do exactly that.

How does our skin change with the cooler drop in temperature?

Extrinsic (external) factors such as reduction in temperature, dry wind and indoor heating can dehydrate our skin. Dehydration is a lack of water within the epidermal layer in the skin. Our skin tends to feel more dry and tight, fine lines start to appear and you may start to get some dry flakiness depending on your skin type. Dehydration affects every skin type – even oily skins.  

Should we still wear SPF in winter? Why?

Absolutely. If there is light outside there is UVA radiation. UVA rays create free radical damage that causes premature ageing. Protecting your skin with a SPF every day throughout the year will help to reduce premature skin ageing. We recommend using a physical sunscreen that contains zinc like our Superstar SPF 50+. 

Should we be using different skincare products in winter and if so, what categories are most important to focus on?

You may find skin needs will change from the warmer to cooler months. Most skin types, even oily skin, will suffer from dehydration – which is a lack of hydration in the skin.  Products containing hyaluronic acid (HA) will help to increase hydration. Hyaluronic acid can hold up to 1000 times its own weight in water, therefore hydrating the skin without creating more oil. Our Glam Squad Serum contains three types of hyaluronic acid to target long and short-term hydration, as well as vitamins B3 and B5 for barrier protection and brightening which are both imperative during the cooler months. 

Dry skin types are most likely to suffer from flakiness, redness and itching and require something to replenish the lipid barrier. Dry skin lacks oil rather than water, so changing to an oil based moisturiser that is rich in texture will help moisturise skin. Star Quality is our rich radiance cream that has a combination of nourishing oils and butters, with no silicone. Beware of silicone, it makes your skin feel smooth and hydrated but doesn’t actually moisturise. 

Why is it important to protect our skin barrier?

Our skin is a barrier and first line of defence to protect us from external influences. When our skin’s barrier becomes impaired it can lead to a condition called trans-epidermal water loss which creates dehydration within the skin. A breakdown in barrier functioning can create skin sensitivities, irritation, flakiness and redness. 

How can this impact ageing?

Dry and dehydrated skin will naturally look older - it looks sallow, lines appear deeper and elasticity reduces. Maintaining hydration keeps your skin cells happy. 

What's your best anti-ageing tip?

Protection and prevention are better than cure. Protect your skin from UV damage using a physical zinc SPF like Superstar SPF 50+ and protect your skin’s natural barrier function. 

Look for active ingredients to help target specific concerns. Vitamin C, niacinamide (vitamin B3), hyaluronic acid, peptides, plant stem cells, retinol and AHAs are the gold standards in anti-ageing and can all be found across the Liberty Belle Rx range. 

What's something you wish more people knew about looking after their skin?

When it comes to exfoliation, less is best. Over exfoliation or stripping the skin can lead to irritation and sensitivity. We like to use a product with natural AHA’s like Quiet Achiever instead of harsh scrubs. Or try a professional microdermabrasion treatment every 4-6 weeks. 

Many people can underestimate the benefits of retinol - it is truly the gold standard in skincare ingredients. Our Dream Team and Eye Dream contain encapsulated retinol which gently delivers retinol to target: Fine lines and wrinkles, pigmentation, uneven skin tone and poor texture, congestion and blemishes and pore size.

BD recommends: Keep skin protected this winter (and all year round) with these brand picks. Click the name to learn more and to download hi-res imagery:

Skinsmiths

Palmer's

Le Tan

Snowberry

La Roche-Posay

Natural Instinct

Lovely by Skin Institute

Banana Boat

Surf Life Saving Sunscreen

Hawaiian Tropic

SunSense

Osmosis