Lilli Gordon, founder of First Aid Beauty, on tricks to combat dryness
Anyone who’s lived through a cold winter understands that it can do some serious damage to your skin. So we looked into the secrets to having bright, supple skin all year long. Skincare guru Lilli Gordon, the founder of First Aid Beauty, a line for sensitive skin, chatted with us about fighting dryness this winter (from your head to your toes).
Katie Couric: For many people, winter isn’t only a time of cold weather — it’s also a time for dry, dry skin. First things first, from a very base level, can you explain why our skin dries out so much in the winter?
Lilli Gordon: It’s very easy — and it’s because the humidity in the winter is low outdoors and indoors. So what happens is that water evaporates off the outer layer of our skin and that causes our skin to become dry, flaky, itchy and that’s it at the most basic level.
What are some things we need to worry about with dry skin?
The top layer of your skin is your skin barrier, and it’s like a bunch of bricks. Think of it as a roof — and think of what happens when you lose a few shingles and there are holes. So two things happen as a result of a compromised skin barrier: The bad things from outside get into your skin and the good things that you want to keep in your skin, like moisture, evaporate out. So it can lead to extreme discomfort and skin that is not attractive, very ashy and not very pleasant.
What are some easy steps we can take to try to prevent our skin from drying out during the winter?
When you’re inside, using a humidifier will really help because our skin loses water due to the low humidity. In the winter, you should really take quick showers with water as cool as you can tolerate. Hot water and long showers are going to wash away any oil that your skin generates and make your skin much, much more vulnerable.
Be careful in your choice of soaps; choose moisturizing soaps. Don’t use products with alcohol, because alcohol can strip your skin of natural oils. Even using a washcloth in the shower, you’ve got to be careful. Then of course, as soon as you’re done bathing and you’ve dried off, you should apply a moisturizer to seal in the moisture. Another trick: I can tolerate laundry detergent with fragrance in the summer, but in the winter they make me very itchy because of the fragrance and the alcohol. So avoid those.
What are some common complaints you hear from people in need of dry skin relief, and what sorts of products (moisturizers, serums, etc) do you recommend they try for relief?
Well, they need moisture. They need to avoid all the things we talked about avoiding. And they need to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. And there are different moisture choices to consider. It depends: Is it daytime, is it nighttime, is it for your face? Is it for your body?
Let’s say you have your normal moisturizer — and then winter comes along, you can use a heavier moisturizer. I really like our Ultra Repair Cream. It’s sort of like your wardrobe: You go heavier in the winter and then lighter in the summer. So I’d invest in somewhat heavier moisturizer and layer with a hydrating serum underneath two or three times a week, right after you’ve washed your face.
You can use a hydrating mask. You can use an overnight hydrating sleep mask if you’re traveling during the winter. (There is no humidity on an airplane as you know.) So get on the plane with clean skin or bring a wipe, put on a really thick layer of moisturizer or put on a moisturizing mask that you can just tissue off after.
On your body, a really rich cream is the best thing for you — certainly right after you shower and then at night and in your vulnerable areas.
Now, this is very personal: My heels get very cracked and dry in the winter, and I don’t want to sleep with socks. Help! What should I do?
I’d probably give my feet a warm bath and then use a gentle buffer and put some cream on. And then over the cream I’d put our new Oat & Hemp Multi-Fix Salve, so that I can hop in bed. You know, you should always put moisturizer on your feet before bed, so it will sink in. A lot of people don’t use a moisturizer on their bodies — just on their face.
As the skincare guru, what steps do you take in your own skincare routine to protect your skin during the winter?
Well, I’m very good to my skin and I get very ritualistic. Every morning I use our Ultra Repair Cream from my neck down — and on the bottoms of my feet. After that I have a layering system: I’ll use a hydrating toner and serum. Then I use our priming moisturizer, which is very hydrating. And then I use our tinted moisturizer, which is also super hydrating and delivers continuous moisture. And of course, I’m a big believer in protecting the long-term health of your skin by using sunscreen every single day.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
This originally appeared on Medium.com