Winter Acne – Zits and Make-Up
Winter acne is sometimes related to the use of heavier make-up to mimic the bright, rosy glow of summer, especially in those with pale skin. Unfortunately, this can mean that pores become blocked with creams, powder, blush and bronzers, causing whiteheads and blackheads as sebum, melanin, and make-up all combine to increase the risk of swelling, inflammation and infection.To minimise the risk of acne linked to make-up use, it is essential to carefully remove all traces of make-up before going to bed, to regularly replace old make-up, and to avoid products that contain possible skin irritants like phthalates, parabens, fragrances, lanolin, alcohol and harsh preservatives. Using a skin toner and moisturiser after cleaning off make-up is helpful to balance the oils in the skin and reduce the risk of dry, cracked skin and bacterial infection. For natural anti-acne remedies you can make at home, check out the last chapter of Eat to Beat Acne!
Using non-comedogenic (non-pore-clogging) make-up and beauty products is also recommended, but be aware that non-comedogenic is not a protected term, so many products featuring this label have no evidence to substantiate their claims.
Be Extra Kind to Your Skin in Winter!
It may be tempting to use harsh exfoliation products to stimulate blood flow to the skin and slough off dead skin cells in winter, but the truth is that the skin is already being treated harshly by the cold weather, and rough exfoliation can simply irritate the skin further, increase inflammation, and spread around bacteria that causes acne. Instead, be gentle with the skin and nourish it inside and out during winter.
Winter Exercise and Acne
Just as it can be tempting to eat carb-heavy comfort foods in winter, it may also be tempting to become a couch potato, especially if it’s cold outside and you’re a fairweather runner. Just as it is important for heart health and general health to stay active year-round, regular physical activity is also important for skin health. This is because physical exertion gets the blood pumping, increasing the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the skin, and helping to clear toxins and cell debris.
Exercise also helps lower inflammation by encouraging better insulin and glucose control, and staying active even helps boost mood, which can have a powerful effect on the skin. Physical activity also helps us to sweat out toxins, and can improve motivation to stick with other healthy habits, such as not smoking, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, and ensuring a healthy diet.
If you struggle to stay active in winter how about trying snowsports, indoor soccer, a martial art, or simply going on long city walks with friends while drinking peppermint lattes (instead of sitting in the dry air of a stuffy coffee shop while your blood sugar skyrockets!).
Acne Mechanica – New Haircut?
Other possible triggers for winter acne include acne mechanica, a condition also known as pomade acne because it is caused by the transfer of hair products to the skin. A new fall haircut or Christmas party makeover, especially one where hair falls onto the face, can mean that your skin is suddenly exposed daily to pore-clogging products. Making sure to use as little product as possible, cleaning the skin before bed, and finding a brand that doesn’t seem to irritate the skin are all helpful in minimising the development of acne mechanica.
Toques and Acne
Winter headgear (think toques, deerstalkers, and woolen knitted hats!) can also trigger acne breakouts, especially along the forehead and just in front of the ears. This is because few people remember to wash their hats regularly, leading to a build-up of sweat, hair products, make-up, and bacteria on the inside of the hat. Using alcohol wipes after wearing a hat, or making sure to wash the hat every other day can be helpful in reducing acne on the forehead.
Stress and Winter Acne
Another major wintertime skin saboteur, holiday stress, is largely unavoidable for most people. There are, however, ways to manage stress so as to support overall health, including skin health. Better stress management means lower levels of inflammation, better hormone control, and improved immunity, which all help relieve acne symptoms. One great way to de-stress is to stay physically active in winter!
People whose acne is exacerbated in winter may find that it pays to cut back on the use of acne creams such as those that contain benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or retinoids as these can dry out the skin.
All in all, there are lots of possible triggers for winter acne, and lots of great steps you can take to minimise breakouts!
Discover more ways to successfully manage acne by picking up a copy of my latest book, Eat to Beat Acne!