New season, new skin concerns.
Oct 13, 2021
Every year, as fall transitions into winter, I can’t help but notice my skin begging for a little extra TLC. Suddenly, my face feels tighter, flakier, and visibly duller. Before becoming a self-proclaimed skincare enthusiast, I’d depend on the same products to carry me through the entire year; but it became clear that my skin had other plans.
As a woman of color, I know that my darker skin is highly reactive to the cold, harsh air conditions it’s exposed to during the wintertime. What I didn’t know, however, is that dry and dehydrated skin are not the same things. And, after conducting a quick survey on my Instagram stories asking other women what their winter skin concerns were, it soon became evident that parched skin is a winter pain point that haunts us all.
According to Nina Mask, a clinical aesthetician at BriskNPosh SoHo, winter air increases a process called trans-epidermal water loss (or TEWL), a fancy term for when moisture escapes your skin. Studies have shown that this process is generally more significant in darker complexions, which explains why we’re all complaining about tight, rough, or cracked skin when winter rolls around. Mask adds that dry, harsh weather can worsen the skin’s existing conditions (think: acne or eczema), causing increased hyperpigmentation and dark spots.
So what’s the solution? We tapped Mask and Rachel Roff, founder of UrbanSkinRx, to break down the five most common concerns faced by melanin skin and the expert-approved products and ingredients to help treat and protect your complexion this winter.
The Problem: Dryness/Dehydration
The Solution: Hyaluronic Acid or Glycolic Acid
So, what *exactly* is the difference between dry and dehydrated skin? When your skin loses water, it’s considered dehydrated. If your skin struggles to naturally produce sebum—or oil—it’s deemed to be dry. Either way, avoiding harsh astringents or cleansers that strip your skin of its natural oils is critical. To combat either issue, Roff recommends introducing products containing hyaluronic or glycolic acid to help skin trap and retain moisture throughout the day.
The Problem: Hyperpigmentation
“Hyperpigmentation may seem like a non-issue during the fall and winter months, but this just isn’t the case,” says Mask. According to the aesthetician, dry weather, cold temperatures, and decreased humidity can cause dry patches on the skin and worsen pre-existing conditions that leave behind dark spots. To help combat this, Roff recommends using products that contain kojic acid, as it helps stop the overproduction of melanin, which leads to dark spots.
The Problem: Rough, Flaky Texture
Whether your skin is suffering from dryness, dehydration, or both, it’s only a matter of time before the frigid temperatures lead to rough, flaky patches on your face. To help keep it soft and supple, Mask recommends using jojoba oil, which has properties similar to our natural sebum, allowing it better penetrate the skin for maximum nourishment.
Many women claim that their skin’s natural glow is compromised in the colder months—resulting in a dull, lackluster complexion. Once again, you’ve got dehydration and a lack of sunlight to thank for that. To help boost your skin’s radiance, both experts recommended incorporating products with vitamin C, as it has antioxidant-rich properties that promote collagen production and protect against environmental stressors that lead to discoloration and early signs of aging.
The Solution: Niacinamide
Finally, there’s inflamed, irritated skin. Not only is this dryness-induced condition extremely annoying, but it can be painful too. Roff recommends niacinamide as it has anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe and alleviate irritation, reduce redness, and help lock in moisture for a healthier skin barrier. Consider it the all-in-one skincare ingredient you didn’t know you needed.