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Is Cold Weather Harmful for Your Skin?

Young woman in long jumper drinking hot tea on a cold winter's day, on the balcony

As the temperatures begin to  drop, you may have noticed some changes in your skin, and have likely wondered…

Is the cold weather harming my skin? 

In some ways, yes, but in others, no, the cold can actually be beneficial. 

Confused?

Here is everything you need to know…

Common Cold Weather Skin Issues

Let’s begin with some of the most common skin problems that people experience in cold temperatures. 

Dry Skin

Your skin’s protective barrier sits on the outer layer of your skin, and performs a number of important functions. 

One of these is to help your skin retain moisture. It does this by trapping moisture into your skin, preventing it from evaporating into the air. 

However, the cold weather can sometimes interfere with this. 

How? 

Firstly, it strips away the natural oils that make up your skin’s protective layer, leaving it exposed and vulnerable. Secondly, the air tends to be quite dry in cold weather, meaning that moisture ends up evaporating into the air at a much faster rate, especially with a damaged protective barrier. 

Infographic on layers of skin and the role of collagen

Fortunately, you can do something about this…

A rich and thick moisturizer can make a huge difference, as this will provide your skin with an extra protective layer, covering over any gaps that have come about from damage to your own natural protective barrier. 

Of course, you do need to be using a moisturizer with the right ingredients for this, with key ingredients including: 

  • Hyaluronic Acid – a humectant, meaning that it draws moisture from the air into the skin, immediately hydrating and plumping up skin cells
  • Urea – another humectant that is extremely effective at hydrating the skin 
  • Ceramides – a glue-like substance that holds your skin cells together, ceramides are fantastic for strengthening your skin’s protective barrier
  • Red Algae – extremely hydrating and moisturizing, making it able to replenish the skin’s natural barrier 
  • Shea Butter – boasts powerful anti-inflammatory properties, while also containing a wide range of vitamins and minerals 
  • Oils – from jojoba to macadamia to avocado, these oils will not only soften and condition the surface of your skin, but also provide it with a waterproof barrier 

One final tip when it comes to boosting your skin’s moisture content…

Make sure that you apply your moisturizer to damp, rather than dry, skin. 

Why? 

Because damp skin already contains moisture particles. Applying your moisturizer over the top of this will trap these water molecules beneath it, ensuring that the only place for them to go is into your skin, rather than evaporating into the air. 

Acne

You may think that the dry skin that the cold brings would put a stop to your acne breakouts, but the opposite can often happen. 

How? 

Well, in addition to retaining moisture, your skin’s protective barrier also guards the skin from all of the bacteria, dirt and more that you come across on a daily basis, blocking these from actually entering into the skin. 

When this barrier is damaged by the cold, all of those unwanted substances enter the skin at a much greater rate. This not only leads to clogged pores causing breakouts, but also exacerbated breakouts due to infections.   

When it comes to treating cold weather acne…

You need to be careful. Many acne treatment products can be quite drying on the skin, stripping it of its natural oils in order to clear breakouts. However, since cold weather acne is caused by a damaged skin barrier, these drying ingredients will only result in even more damage, increasing the frequency and severity of your breakouts. 

So, what should you do? 

Opt for something gentler, such as salicylic acid. This ingredient will exfoliate the inside of your pores and clear out any debris, without drying your skin out in the same way that other popular anti-acne ingredients, such as benzoyl peroxide, do. 

Using some of the ingredients mentioned above to strengthen your skin’s natural barrier, such as the ceramides and hyaluronic acid, can also help. However, you may be best off staying away from the heavier ingredients, such as shea butter and oils, if your skin type is oily. 

A Rough and Dull Complexion

Many people find that their skin takes on quite a rough and dull appearance in cold weather, and there is a simple reason as to why this happens. 

The way in which the cold strips your skin of its natural oils has an effect on the rate at which it naturally sheds its dead skin cells, slowing this down. This means that all of the extra dead skin cells end up settling on the surface of your skin. In some cases, this can cause acne, but in others, it ends up contributing to roughness and dullness. 

Illustration of the structure of the epidermis

Again, there is an easy fix to this…

The answer here lies with exfoliating. 

Exfoliation will clear away the dead skin cells that are sitting on the surface of your skin, while also giving your pores a deep clean too. Not only that, but exfoliation stimulates the rate at which your body naturally sheds its dead skin cells, speeding this back up, despite the cold. 

When it comes to exfoliating, you have two main options: 

  • Physical Exfoliation: this makes use of an abrasive material, such as a scrub or a sponge, which is rubbed across the skin to physically dislodge dead skin cells 
  • Chemical Exfoliation: this makes use of specific chemicals that dissolve the glue-like substance that holds dead skin cells to the surface of the skin, allowing them to be removed and washed away 

Which one is better? 

They both have their pros and cons, but chemical exfoliation tends to be the best option during cold weather. 

Why? 

Because, as mentioned above, your skin’s protective barrier is extremely fragile in the cold. Scrubbing at it, even with a gentle scrub, will only end up damaging it more. 

Although chemical exfoliation sounds harsher, due to the fact that the word “chemical” is used, this is actually a much milder and gentler way to exfoliate your skin. 

There are two main types of chemical exfoliants out there – AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) and BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acids)

The main difference between the two is that AHAs target the surface of the skin, while BHAs work deeper in the pores. AHAs tend to be much more gentle, making them the ideal choice for cold weather. 

Which AHA should you use? 

Lactic acid and mandelic acid tend to be the best for dry and sensitive skin, due to the fact that they are extremely gentle, while glycolic acid is the most effective for all skin types.

Increased Air Pollution

Many people assume that air pollution is a much bigger problem in the summer than in the winter, but the opposite is actually true…

Due to the way in which cold and warm air end up layered together in cold weather, this actually ends up trapping air pollution much closer to the surface of the planet than usual. 

Not only that, but fossil fuels tend to be burnt more during the winter months, increasing the number of toxins in the air. 

How does this make a difference to your skin? 

Well, pollution is actually extremely detrimental to your skin, causing a number of issues such as: 

Wondering what you can do about this? 

The best way to tackle the skin-damaging effects of pollution is by using plenty of antioxidants in your skin care routine. 

What do these do? 

Well, when pollutants come into contact with your skin, they trigger the creation and growth of free radicals. These are essentially damaged molecules that end up attacking healthy cells in order to try to heal themselves. Unfortunately, this then turns the healthy cells into free radicals too, resulting in an endless cycle of damage. 

Antioxidants put a stop to all of this by healing free radicals, providing them with the parts that they are missing and therefore preventing them from attacking healthy cells. 

Of course, with hundreds of different antioxidants out there, how do you know which ones to go for? 

Well, just about every one will help, but the very best antioxidants for pollution tend to be the following: 

  • Vitamins C and E – work together to protect, heal and rejuvenate skin cells 
  • Peptides – help to increase the production of collagen in the skin, which is broken down by pollution
  • Green Tea – repairs the DNA within skin cells while protecting them from further damage 
  • Resveratrol – not only neutralizes existing free radicals, but also prevents more from forming 
  • Lycopene – reduces skin damage while also having other anti-aging benefits 

How Cold Weather Benefits Your Skin

After reading all of the above, you are probably convinced that the cold does nothing but damage your skin, but this isn’t true…

It may be hard to believe, but the cold weather can actually bring with it a few skin-boosting benefits…

Invisible Pores

While the size of your pores can’t actually change, they can still look larger or smaller depending on how stretched out they are. 

What stretches them out? 

Usually oil, dirt and anything else that ends up settling within them, causing their opening to expand in order to accommodate all of these substances. 

However, the cold weather can actually help with this…

As mentioned above, the cold strips away some of your skin’s natural oils, while also slowing down the rate at which your sebaceous glands produce sebum. 

For some, this can lead to the dry skin problems mentioned above, but for those who naturally have oily skin, the cold weather can be a blessing…

By keeping oil production to a minimum, and also acting as an astringent, the cold weather helps to keep pores looking invisible while reducing the shine that you experience in the warmer months. In this way, cold weather can have the same effect as cleansing, in that pores tend to look smaller and tighter.

Infographic on how cleansing removes clogged pores

Increased Blood Circulation

There are many products and devices out there that are designed to increase blood circulation. 

Why? 

Because this benefits the skin in a number of ways, such as: 

  • Provides skin cells with a greater amount of oxygen and nutrients, allowing them to thrive 
  • Increases natural detoxification, enabling your body to remove toxins that would have otherwise contributed to skin problems
  • Reduces inflammation, minimizing any puffiness or swelling, especially around the eyes 
  • Tightens the pores and cuticles, giving the skin a vibrant and rejuvenated appearance, while adding plenty of natural color to the cheeks 

What does this have to do with cold weather? 

Because cold weather increases your blood circulation, enabling your skin to enjoy all of the benefits mentioned above. 

Improves Sleep

In order for your body to properly fall asleep, your body temperature drops, and this is something that usually happens about two hours after you go to bed. This is why many scientists advise people to keep their bedrooms at a cool temperature in order to improve sleep quality.

It goes without saying that cold weather will automatically drop the temperature of your bedroom, so long as you aren’t using too much indoor heating. 

This will help to induce sleep, giving you a much deeper sleep than you otherwise would have had. 

This really benefits your skin. 

How? 

Because while you are asleep, your skin works hard to heal and regenerate itself, doing this at a much greater rate at night than during the day. It produces the majority of its collagen and elastin at night too, both of which are key proteins when it comes to keeping the skin smooth and firm.

In order for your skin to do all of that, it needs your body to be in the deep stage of sleep, which can only really happen when your body temperature has lowered to the optimum level. 

As you can see, the cold weather brings both advantages and disadvantages to the skin. In order to cope with the negatives, you will likely need to adjust your skin care routine a bit, so that your skin can make the most of the benefits that the cold weather brings. 

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73 Responses to "Is Cold Weather Harmful for Your Skin?"

  1. Jacki

    Very informative!!

  2. Rebecca Foughty

    Very informative. Many questions answered.

  3. Stacey A

    I am truly excited to try a more natural approach.

  4. taylor

    Thanks for the informative article, which helps me a lot on skin car during the cold winter.

  5. chung

    Informative article! Love all of your products.

  6. julie r

    that was quite interesting to learn

  7. Rhonda Stefani

    Great info, seeing things I seriously need to add to my skincare routine. My face is awful- dry and very dull during the cold winter months. Thank you!

  8. Cheryl wong

    Great info!

  9. Beth

    I definitely need this right now. This winter has been very harsh on my skin.

  10. Jeanine Carlson

    This was a great article! I learned so much about winter skin!! Thanks for posting this!!

  11. jana

    I have noticed that the older I get, the drier my skin becomes.

  12. gloria patterson

    WOW what a lot of great information here! Some I knew but a lot I had no ideal, sharing this with family and friends

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  14. Pat Johnson

    My skin always suffers during the winter, and I am always willing to try new products to give me some relief!

  15. melissa mc

    ty for the useful post and will be sharing 🙂

  16. teena sierson

    I agree with all of this

  17. Bonnie Wemyss

    Very interesting article…..your products sound great

  18. cleo

    Very informative

  19. Connie

    Love all Oragold products!

  20. Rita

    Thank you so much for all the information you presented to us especially the ingredients to look for to help dry skin.

  21. Amanda M Adams

    Love this product

  22. Kathy

    I have been using Orogold for past 8 weeks. Finally seeing the results I was hoping for. Good to know these tips for skincare as we enter the cold winter months. I love OROGOLD!

  23. Rebecca

    UGH, I dislike what dry weather does to my skin. Time to up my moisturizing!

  24. Chava Zewicky

    This article was very helpful because I get the worst dry skin in the winter and nothing seems to work.

  25. Julie Gaw

    I like using Orogold products.

  26. Shaun Heathcote

    looks like amazing stuff

  27. Michael

    This Has Many Ways To Improve You and Your Skin !!!

  28. Diane K.

    Gosh, this product clearly protects the skin from all the harsh environmental elements constantly bombarding our skin. A necessary step in any skincare routine.
    Diane K.

  29. Gabrielle

    It was nice to learn that cold weather actually has an upside for my skin. Thanks for this.

  30. Hanan Rashed Al-Rahmani

    Hi,I wish to try your products,I never had the chance to…

  31. Debora

    Didn’t realize cold weather was good for circulation. Interesting article.

  32. Debbie P

    I really need some of this.

  33. Linda

    Thanks for the info! Found it very interesting! Thanks for the chance to win! Thank you for your generosity!!! Merry Christmas and Good luck to all!

  34. Margaret

    I must moisturize constantly in the winter. I try not to use the heater since it’s so drying too. However, I live how invigorating the cold makes me feel. Better that the hot,humid summers!

  35. Darlene Taylor

    thank you for all your info

  36. Jennifer

    This article provided information that I was unaware of. Especially about acne in winter. Thank you.

  37. suzanne

    There was a lot of info that I didn’t know yet.

  38. Kelly Wolfe

    I hope to try this product out it truly looks amazing

  39. Kelly Wolfe

    This sounds like an amazing product im turning 40 in January so this sounds perfect

  40. Young M

    Interesting read. I definitely do feel a lot drier in the winter. 🙁

  41. Judy

    Thank you for all the tips and info. My skin always gets dry in winter.

  42. Kathy Pierce

    Cold weather always call for more skin care to prevent dryness . I use all the moisturizer I can!!!!

  43. Suzanne D'Orsi Bartek

    My skin suffers every year from the severe cold weather.

  44. Mi Webber

    I’ve been using the wrong type of exfoliant.

  45. Barbara Lima

    I need my face to have increased circulation, I think the toner will be this.

  46. belinda bell

    My skin is dry and when the weather gets cold it is pass dry. It hurts.

  47. Lori

    My skin is dry every day 365 days a year

  48. Lola

    Great article!

  49. Lori

    Interesting information, thank you.

  50. Katrina

    Shower me in gold. Just what the Doctor ordered for me on my Prescription. Skin elegance in a bottle or jar Awesome!

  51. Luanne

    Need this for my dry skin.

  52. Linda Davidson

    This is great information. I learned things I would have never known.

  53. Kim Nord

    I live in upper Michigan and it gets very cold.We heat with wood so my skin is dry.I would love to win.

  54. Rock

    I’m living on hyaluronic acid right now.

  55. MaryAnne LaRocque-Ouamar

    I live in a colder climate. I feel a layer of protection for your face and hands is crucial.Especially in -40’s.

  56. Terry Poage

    I would live to try this. My winter skin is terrible. My skin dries & cracks when the weather turns cold.

  57. Josh Schoff

    So much new info for me that I didnt know befor! Very helpful!!!!

  58. Liz Kilcher

    geat info, thanks much!!!

  59. Darlene

    This would help my dry skin.

  60. Dana Morin

    This was a very informative article, I learned alot. Thanks for the information. I know know what to use on my dry skin in the winter.

  61. Catherine

    Excellent learning article…thanks

  62. kathy

    wonderful product for hydration

  63. Kimberly

    Good to know

  64. Kyaw

    Would like to win it.

  65. Lisa cruz

    I love orogold products..there are no comparisons when it comes orogold! Absolutely the best!!

  66. Diana

    My skin gets really dry during the winter, and I haven’t yet found something that works good.

  67. Sierra

    Very good information!

  68. Trinity

    My skin gets dry in the winter but is still oily especially when I sleep!

  69. DORENE

    This article covers everything you need to know about your facial skin at any age! Very important and in-depth information on the how’s and why’s of complete skin care. Orogold Cosmetics gets it!

  70. Irina

    I would try it to improve my sleep

  71. Janice

    Very interesting article on how cold weather affects skin. I learned a few things I did not know.

  72. Lisa Kerr

    I would love to try your products! ! They seem really beneficial to your skin! !

  73. renetta

    Love Orogold – would love to win this prize!

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