When I stepped out the door to walk the dogs this morning, the sun was shining brightly despite the fact that it was -9ºC with a wind chill factor of -16ºC. At this time last year, the weather in my little part of Canada didn’t even require a winter coat. This year, winter arrived early and with a vengeance. To prevent spending the rest of the season with burning, bright red cheeks, I’ve had to get my act together and put my winter rosacea skin care routine together.
Winter’s cold and windy weather is a disaster for those of us whose cheeks are rosy at the best of times. Even if you live in a part of the world that doesn’t experience extremes of cold that are quite as intense as mine, the odds are that your winters are far cooler, rainier or snowier than your summers. If your skin’s anything like mine, that means you’re going to need to switch up your skin care products and the way you use them.
Transitioning from Summer to Winter Skin Care for Rosacea
I usually start my winter rosacea skin care transition in the autumn. That gives my skin enough time to get used to the products by the time the cold weather has truly arrived. This year, I didn’t have as much of a chance to do that as is usually the case. Before I knew it, winter had simply arrived.
While there are lots of overall changes I make to protect my skin from the cold – sitting away from fireplaces/heating vents, wearing a scarf over my face to protect it from the wind, using a humidifier in my room at night, and so on – today I’m going to focus on the actual skin care products I use and the way I use them.
I take a lot of care in designing my winter skin care routine. Every year it’s a little bit different because I’m continually tweaking and updating it. I learn more about my rosacea symptoms and triggers all the time, which helps me to gradually perfect my skin care routine from one season to the next.
My Basic Winter Rosacea Skin Care Routine
This year, my winter rosacea skin care routine consists of the following. I adhere to it extremely strictly because consistency is one of the most important parts of my flare-up avoidance efforts.
- Cleanser – This is one part of my skin care routine that can stay the same throughout the year. I use a creamy, non-foaming, exceptionally gentle cleanser throughout the year. I feel that consistency with this product helps to make the transition to some of the other products a little easier. I wash my face twice per day – once in the morning after I walk the dogs and once last thing at night – with water on the cooler side of warm and my fingertips, not a facecloth or sponge.
- Tonic – Although many toners are too harsh for rosacea-prone skin, I’ve had a lot of luck with a tonic that helps to restore my skin’s pH balance after cleansing. I give my face a light spray with the product immediately after I wash my face, while it’s still damp.
- Moisturizer – While a lotion is often enough for my skin in the summer, the wintertime requires a heavier cream if I’m going to avoid lizard-like scaly skin, particularly around the outer part of my cheeks and my chin. I apply my gentle face cream before the tonic has fully dried. Once I’ve spread it evenly over my face, I tap my face very lightly with my fingertips. Recently I learned that gently tapping a moisturizer into your skin is considerably more effective at encouraging its absorption than rubbing your face. I also find that my skin doesn’t turn as pink when I apply my moisturizer by drumming my fingertips all over my face instead of trying to rub it in. Yes, I might look like I’m attempting to play the piano on my cheeks but I feel that I’m getting more out of my moisturizer this way, so it’s worth it!
Other Rosacea Skin Care Products I Love in Wintertime
Those products make up the very core of my rosacea skin care routine for the winter.
However, I also use certain other products for specific purposes that I feel are worth discussing.
- Rosacea salve – As I mentioned earlier, I walk dogs every morning. They’re a neighbour’s dogs and I love them to bits. As long as it’s above -17ºC you’ll see me, a Yorkshire Terrier and a Boston Terrier all bundled up and headed down the street, trudging through the snow. At that temperature, a scarf isn’t enough to cover my face. I spread a rosacea salve rich with seabuckthorn seed and fruit oils, chamomile oil and several other fantastic ingredients over my cheeks to keep the bite of the cold and wind from affecting my symptoms. I wash it off as soon as I get home.
- Sunscreen (sun cream) – The cold doesn’t stop UV rays from reaching my skin. Since the sun is one of the top rosacea triggers, I feel that it’s just as important to use sunscreen throughout the winter months as it is to use it in the summertime. The only difference is that I need it only on my face as that’s the one part of my skin that still experiences direct sun exposure. Since I have yet to find a chemical sun cream that doesn’t cause my skin to flare up, I use an all-natural product based on zinc oxide. I apply it directly to my face or, on very cold days, I apply it on top of the rosacea salve. I wash it all off once I get home again.
- Exfoliator – I gently exfoliate my face with an all natural product that uses jojoba beads (not plastic microbeads!) to encourage the loosening of dead skin cells or any product buildup so they can be washed away. In the summer, I do this twice per week (as long as I’m not having a flare-up at the time), but in the winter, I drop this practice back to once per week. Exfoliating is still important, but as my skin needs more gentle care in the winter, I don’t do it as often.
- Hydrating mask – To help to inject some life back into my skin after it is continually dried out in heated buildings and the frigid windy weather outside, I use a deep hydrating moisture mask. It is an all-natural product that I spread over my face at night. It gradually sinks in throughout the night and helps to replace more of the lost moisture. This product is one that I use once per week in the summer but that I use twice per week in the winter.
With these winter rosacea skin care products and a careful effort to drink lots of water and avoid triggers, I can typically manage to keep my symptoms under control and the number of flare-ups I experience to a minimum. In that effort, I have also included a daily home LED light therapy treatment into my routine, as well. I’ll be sure to tell you more about that in my next blog post in January 2017!
Do you have favourite products for winter skin care for rosacea? Please share them in the comments. I’d love to hear about them!