Our no-fuss guide to keeping your melanin-rich skin healthy this winter.
As the colder months are now upon us, it’s so important to know how to keep our melanin-rich skin hydrated, healthy, protected, and comfortable. We’ve put together a quick, no-fuss guide on the best ways to maintain the integrity of your skin this winter.
Let’s hear what science has to say…
Ever heard the saying, ‘black don’t crack?’
That’s because the outermost layer of skin (known as the stratum corneum) is denser, and therefore thicker, for darker skin tones. While this contributes to slower skin ageing, it also means that skincare has a harder time penetrating deeper into the skin. This means that your skin can get notoriously dry due to the lack of nutrients available to it.
Melanin-rich skin flourishes in sunny and humid climates. So when faced with a cold, windy, and dry winter climate, the skin barrier becomes impaired, and the skin loses the ability to retain water making it dehydrated, sensitive, and aggravated.
Darker skin tones also have some inherent ultraviolet light protection due to high melanin content. Since sunlight is important for the transformation of 7-dehydrocholesterol to vitamin D3, this limited ultraviolet exposure can be associated with a vitamin D deficiency. This has been associated with many health conditions, including dehydration and a reduction of skin micro-nutritions levels.
Cell turnover rates also become slower in colder climates, and as melanin-rich skin naturally has high levels of skin cell shedding already, the accumulation of dead skin cells often result in a more dull appearance.
These melanin-rich skin characteristics can be exacerbated by environmental aggressors, lifestyle, and the use of aggressive skincare products and tools.
So what can we do? Here are some practical tips on how to keep you hydrated all winter long:
One of the best ways to defeat dehydration is to hydrate from the inside. Drink your recommended intake of water per day (although an obvious tip, it’s often forgotten during our daily life). This will help flush any toxins out of your system, and replenish dehydrated cells throughout the entire body, including, of course, your skin.
Have you noticed that mainstream body or face creams never seem to quench your skin's thirst? Instead, they’ll typically leave a superficial shine without truly nourishing the skin. These creams are developed for Caucasian skin, which tolerate cold, dry climates, meaning their skin barrier remains intact along with their ability to retain water. That’s why the mainstream market prioritises the Caucasian occlusive approach to moisturise skin, but leaves melanin-rich skin screaming for more hydration.
To effectively nourish your skin, you need the synergy of:
- Humectants draw water from the environment to replenish dehydrated cells, allowing them to remain hydrated for longer.
We love using: Vitalised Water, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sorbitol, Saccharide Isomerate, or Honey Extract.
- Emollients help to fill-in spaces between the epidermal skin cells, preventing transepidermal water loss, and protecting the Natural Moisturising Factors (NMF) system.
We love using: Lanolin, Triglycerides, Acacia Senegal Gum, Cannabis Oil, Oat Oil, and Almond Oil, along with other plant oils.
- Occlusives help create a barrier to prevent water loss and seal in moisture.
We love using: Shea Butter, Beeswax, Squalane, and Lanolin.
You can find all these moisturising agents in our Nourishing Pore Tightening Treatment Lotion Tonic Oh! and our Day Hack Matte Moisturiser.
All three of these are important agents when it comes to the nurturing of melanin-rich skin through the harsh winter months. They can also be layered for optimal hydration.
1. Be gentle with your skin barrier!
When our skin isn’t quite as healthy as we’d wish, it’s very tempting to over-cleanse, over-exfoliate, and over-do our skincare. This only strips the skin, leaving behind an impaired skin barrier that will lead to even more problems, especially in winter. Here’s what we recommend:
- Exfoliate, but don’t over-exfoliate. Smart doses of gentle chemical exfoliators like BHA’s and AHA’s combined with enzymatic exfoliators will gently buff away dead skin cells without disturbing your skin equilibrium. See our gentle yet powerful Brightening Chemical and Enzymatic Exfoliant Mask for darker skin tones.
- Limit your exposure to hot water, as it’ll only strip your skin further. Wash your face with lukewarm or cold water (which will actually minimise your pores at the same time!).
- Avoid drying soaps, harsh cleansers with Sulfates, Denatured Alcohols, and toxic chemicals such as Triclosan.
2. Healthy food = beautiful skin.
- Colourful meals of whole foods, healthy fats, proteins, fruit, and vegetables is the first step to properly functioning melanocytes, reducing the level of inflammation, and reversing oxidative damage. Be sure to get sufficient levels of the following skin-loving vitamins and minerals: zinc, omega 3, and vitamin C.
- Healthy food and frequent vitamin intake will help boost cellular turnover to promote a healthy, radiant glow, and clarify your complexion.
- Vitamin D supplements are equally important when it comes to the integrity of your skin, and supplements are a sure-fire way to maintain hydration levels, as well as skin immunity and comfort.
We talk more about the importance of vitamin D soon in our article here. But, for now, we hope our no-fuss winter skincare guide helps your melanin-rich skin remain happy and healthy for the blustery months ahead.