Most of us have experienced dry skin, especially during autumn and winter. The worst affected areas tend to be those that come into direct contact with the elements, like dry air, wind, and sunlight. Dry skin in winter is primarily the result of too little humidity in the air – as air gets colder, it holds less moisture. And without humidity, the moisture from your skin evaporates more easily.
Skin is more prone to cracking and breaking when it becomes dry. Skin dryness can also begin the formation of fine lines or wrinkles.1 So before any damage sets in, it’s important to consider your winter skincare routine. And this doesn’t just mean what you’re putting on your skin. You’ll need to start by revisiting what you are doing from within! A focus on a few key nutrients can provide you with the nourishment you need to protect against dry skin.
Step 1 - Hydrate:
Drink plenty of water
You probably already know it, but we’ll say it again – DRINK WATER! Your skin cells are made up of mostly water, so it’s important to hydrate and use a moisturiser regularly to keep skin looking radiant and healthy. Drinking enough water is important for all body systems, but it’s critical for healthy skin.2
Hydrate skin with hyaluronic acid
Skin relies on special compounds that hold moisture within it, like hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a natural humectant in skin, famed for holding nearly 1000 times its own weight in water.3 It maintains your skin’s natural moisture content, helping to make it look plump and soft. Since 50% of the body’s hyaluronic acid is found in the skin, when your hyaluronic acid levels decline, fine lines and wrinkles can appear.4,5
Hyaluronic acid isn’t readily found in a typical diet as the main sources are the skin, eyes and joint tissue of animals, which is why taking a supplement could be helpful.6, 7 With vegan and gummy hyaluronic acid supplements now available, like our Beautiful Skin Gummies, it’s never been easier to keep levels topped up.
Pay special attention to Vitamin C
When taking hyaluronic acid as a supplement, be sure to choose a product that also contains Vitamin C, which supports the formation of collagen in the skin.
Collagen is a protein in the skin and its job is to maintain the skin’s structure, strength, and elasticity, helping it to appear toned and radiant.8 The collagen in our skin also plays a role in retaining skin’s natural moisture content. Because of its antioxidant activity, Vitamin C also protects existing collagen in skin from potential damage caused by free radicals such as those produced by UV light.9
Citrus fruits, including oranges and lemons, and other fruits like strawberries, kiwis and papayas are all great sources of Vitamin C.
Keep skin healthy with Omega-3s
Your diet should contain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats are essential for normal skin function and there are three types found in your diet:10
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is considered an essential omega-3 fatty acid that’s found in plant-based foods like walnuts, linseed, and chia seeds.
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are omega-3s that are found in oily fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel.
A deficiency of essential fatty acids, including omega-3 and omega-6, may cause skin to become irritated, itchy and dry.11 Omega-3 fatty acids also help to keep the outer layer skin membrane supple and soft.12
Most of us don’t consume sufficient amounts of foods rich in omega-3s to meet UK recommendations15,16 but luckily, supplementation can help you get the omega-3s you need daily.
Step 3: Safeguarding your skin from the outside
Beyond diet and supplementation, there are also a few skincare practices that pair well with good nutrition. The most common recommendations for skincare in winter include the continued and more frequent use of moisturisers and lip balms. But there are other lesser known ways to give your skin a helping hand in the colder months.
Wear sunscreen. You may not be able to get a tan (or any Vitamin D*) in the autumn and winter months, but just because there’s less sunlight doesn’t mean your skin will not be subject to damage from UV light. Unlike UVB rays, we can’t feel UVA rays because they don’t cause sunburn! UVA rays are linked to skin damage such as wrinkles, leathery skin and uneven pigmentation and are present all year round.17 UV light exposure also decreases Vitamin C levels in skin.18 When Vitamin C levels are low, collagen cannot be manufactured in adequate amounts by the body.19
Limit time in baths and showers. In an ironic twist, spending too much time in the bath or shower can dry out the skin. The higher the temperature of the water the more likely it is to impact the surface oils on your skin that help keep moisture locked in. If you live in a hard water area, this exacerbates the problem by damaging the protective layer of your skin, so consider a water softener.20 Applying a moisturiser with hyaluronic acid as soon after washing as possible is important as this will help trap any moisture inside the skin.
Following the right diet, taking the right supplements, and adopting the right skincare routine can give your skin the best chance of staying supple and hydrated this winter. But if you continue to experience dryness of skin, it might be a good idea to visit a dermatologist for expert advice on personalised skincare for your type of skin.
*Remember to consider taking a Vitamin D supplement during autumn and winter per the UK government guidelines.21
- Yokota M et al. The possible involvement of skin dryness on alterations of the dermal matrix. Exp Dermatol. 2014 Oct;23 Suppl 1:27-31.
- Palma L et al. Dietary water affects human skin hydration and biomechanics. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2015;8:413-421.
- John et al. Perspectives in the selection of hyaluronic acid fillers for facial wrinkles and aging skin. Patient preference and adherence vol. 3 225-30. 3 Nov. 2009.
- Papakonstantinou, Eleni et al. Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging. Dermato-endocrinology vol. 4,3 (2012): 253-8.
- Oe M, Sakai S, Yoshida H, et al. Oral hyaluronan relieves wrinkles: a double-blinded, placebo-controlled study over a 12-week period. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2017;10:267-273.
- Gupta RC et al. Hyaluronic Acid: Molecular Mechanisms and Therapeutic Trajectory. Front Vet Sci. 2019;6:192. Published 2019 Jun 25.
- Kawada C et al. Ingested hyaluronan moisturizes dry skin. Nutr J. 2014 Jul 11;13:70.
- Rittié, Laure, and Gary J Fisher. Natural and sun-induced aging of human skin. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine vol. 5,1 5 Jan. 2015.
- Pullar JM, Carr AC, Vissers MCM. The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients. 2017 Aug 12;9(8):866.
- Ziboh, V.A. et al. Metabolism of polyunsaturated fatty acids by skin epidermal enzymes: generation of antiinflammatory and antiproliferative metabolites. Am J Clin Nutr 2000. 7 (suppl) 361S-366S
- Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary reference intakes for energy, carbohydrate, fiber, fat, fatty acids, cholesterol, protein, and amino acids (macronutrients). Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2005.
- Carughi A et al. Effect of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on indicators of membrane fluidity. Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Vol. 24, No. 1_supplement. April 2010
- Picardo M et al. Sebaceous gland lipids. 2009 Mar-Apr; 1(2): 68–71.
- Ekanayake-Mudiyanselage S, Thiele J. DieTalgdrüse als Transporter für Vitamin E [Sebaceous glands as transporters of vitamin E]. Hautarzt. 2006 Apr;57(4):291-6
- Stark KD et al. Global survey of the omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid in the blood stream of healthy adults. Prog Lipid Res. 2016;63:132-152.
- Advice on fish consumption: benefits & risks 2004. 2004.
- Amano S. Characterization and mechanisms of photoageing-related changes in skin. Damages of basement membrane and dermal structures. Exp Dermatol. 2016;25:14-19.
- Podda M et al. UV-irradiation depletes antioxidants and causes oxidative damage in a model of human skin. Free Radic Biol Med. 1998;24(1):55-65.
- Pullar JM et al. The roles of vitamin C in skin health. Nutrients. 2017;9(8).
- Danby SG et al. The Effect of Water Hardness on Surfactant Deposition after Washing and Subsequent Skin Irritation in Atopic Dermatitis Patients and Healthy Control Subjects. J Invest Dermatol. 2018 Jan;138(1):68-77.
- Government advice on vitamin D. British Nutrition Foundation. Retrieved from: https://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/helpingyoueatwell/vitamind.html