It’s no secret that our skin suffers in winter – from our chapped lips to the scale-like appearance our shins take on, the cooler months can do serious, and seemingly inevitable, damage.
But is it really inevitable? To find out, we chatted to Greg Goodman. He’s a leading dermatologist, president of the Australasian Society of Cosmetic Dermatologists, a clinical professor at Monash University and the director of Script Skincare – a trailblazing service that helps people find their perfect skincare regime.
“As the humidity drops through winter, our skin’s barrier function is inhibited,” says Greg. “This makes us more prone to sensitivity and conditions like eczema and acne, and less tolerant to certain ingredients.”
This change in humidity calls for a change in the products you use on your skin. You may find yourself reaching for heavier moisturisers, swapping your foaming cleanser for a liquid one or trading your cream-based products for ointment-based ones.
“Your skin may become less tolerant to products that target acne, as those ingredients – think retinoids or Vitamins A and C – intrinsically dry out the skin,” says Greg. “To continue using those products, you may need to put a moisturiser over the top or leave them on for a shorter period of time – just 15 minutes, for example, rather than overnight.”
In place of these drying ingredients, some people may want to use products that include Vitamins B and B5, which are more moisturising but still able to slow down oil production. You could also opt for peptides, Greg says, which are neutral year round, or DNA-repairing enzymes to address your anti-aging concerns.
“Remember, too, that your skincare doesn’t always need to be topical,” says Greg. “You could take a Vitamin B3 oral treatment, for example, and should look at your diet if you are trying to address a specific skin concern.”
Research indicates that low glycemic index diets can be effective for reducing acne and rosacea. High GI foods have been found to create an insulin spike which has in turn been linked to acne production, blocking hair follicles.
“A good, well balanced diet with low GI foods – think rice and vegetables – and avoiding spicy food and alcohol are two important steps when addressing acne, rosacea and similar skin conditions,” says Greg.
For persistent dry skin, Greg says there are two main causes. One, caused by sun damage, sees the outer layer of your skin thicken, calling for reduced sun exposure and more sunscreen. Some of this damage can also be reversed by DNA-repairing enzymes and retinoids.
The second cause is the disruption of your skin’s barrier function. The very thin top layer of your skin – as thin as a piece of cling film – is highly specialised to retain moisture, proper cell turnover and a balanced pH level, but external factors like soaps and prolonged exposure to heat (you might want to ditch those super hot showers) can disrupt this process. That’s when your skin dries out and begins to flake.
“To combat dryness, you have two choices,” says Greg. “Moisturisers can be plastered on top of the skin to try to retain moisture, or you can use humectants like glycerin or lactic acid to boost your skin’s natural moisturising factor and attract water to the top layer of your skin.”
It’s important to remember that the skin on our faces and our bodies are not the same, and shouldn’t be treated as such. Greg explains that while the skin on our face heals better, it is far more delicate and prone to more unique concerns.
“Your body can cope with a lot more than your face can – heat, for example – and doesn’t suffer from pigmentation or wrinkles in the same way that your face does,” says Greg. “Your face will require specific products that your body doesn’t, and it’s important to use the correct ingredients for your skin type when searching for these products.”
It is for this very reason that Greg is such a big advocate for Script. The program uses an algorithm to search some 400 products from as many as 30 brands to create a tailored skincare routine for each individual – no dermatologist or expensive racialist required.
“We’ve been testing the phase for 10 years, and opened the first Script store in 2019,” says Greg. “It’s got a tremendous success rate, exemplified by the very low rate of product returns from people who have used it.
“I always tell people that what has worked for me, or their friend or family member, won’t necessarily work for them – in fact, there is a one in 13,440 chance it will work for them, as that’s how many skin profiles there are. It would be like winning the lottery.”
So if you’re changing up your skincare regimen to adapt to the cooler weather, Greg suggests hopping onto www.scriptskincare.com.au to find a routine that will work for you.