Coping with reactive skin during winter months

What’s red, itchy and not something you see all the time? No not a Christmas jumper, rather a case of reactive winter skin.

About 2 weeks ago, I woke up to find the skin across my cheeks covered in small, red dots and feeling particularly sensitive. I thought back to the products I had used in the previous days, and nothing was particularly new or full of active ingredients. On scrolling through a variety of Instagram stories, I wasn’t the only one experiencing this. Complaints of dry, chapped lips, uncomfortable skin and increased sensitivity, led me to conclude that the culprit was in fact the season.

With the temperature dropping outside and homes and workplaces upping the thermostat, my skin didn’t know what was going on. I often cycle to work so mornings under 5˚C with the air biting against my face means all the moisture is being zapped out. Follow that with 8+ hours in a dry, centrally-heated office, you might end up, like me, with an unhappy face.

However within 4 days, I had it sorted and this is how I did it.

  1. Cleanse gently. I reached for La Roche-Posay Toleriane cleanser which I love. It’s creamy and fragrance-free and designed specifically for sensitive/reactive skins. If I was wearing makeup (which let’s face it, I was of course covering up those unsightly red dots) I just repeated the cleanse twice.
  2. Find a protective moisturiser. I have trialled a couple (this isn’t my first reactive rodeo). On that first morning, the only thing I had was Dermalex for contact allergies and irritation so I patted this lightly to the affected areas. It’s cortisone free so isn’t a classic steroid cream and I’ve used it when a product hasn’t agreed with me. I had seen some positive reviews about Avene Cicalfate and La Roche-Posay Cicaplast. You may notice the similarity in name. If you want a fun fact ‘cicatrice’ is the word for scar in Italian, so for me these products stand for healing and creating a barrier from external aggressors. It was a tricky decision: on the one hand the Avene has mineral oil, whereas the La Roche-Posay has shea butter (not a friend for those who are acne-prone). In the end I chose LRP- their products agree with me and seeing as my skin was not particularly oily, I preferred this over using a bi-product of petroleum. Cicaplast is excellent. I patted it on morning and night, with a bit of IT Cosmetics CC cream buffed over the top and by Saturday it was as if those dots had never been there.
  3. Avoid heat. Saunas, steam rooms, high cardio exercises etc. I didn’t test this theory out but I can imagine this will only anger the dots further.
  4. Carry a face mist with you. Unless you’re fortunate to work with a humidifier close by, having a face mist to hand for bathroom breaks or even sat at your desk (yes my colleagues often see me spritzing) means you can add some moisture.
  5. Hydrate on the inside. I’ve definitely been going out more in the lead up to Christmas so I make sure I drink as much or more water than usual. Alcohol and salty nibbles or canapes = a dehydration situation.

Now I have resumed my regular skincare programming, but with this routine up my sleeve: Libby 1 – Winter 0

If you want to see before and after pictures from this reactive episode check out my Instagram post @skinshelfie

If you’ve found some great skin soothers, leave them in the comments below!

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