The Winter of My Skin’s Discontent

“She couldn’t get any farther away inside from her skin. She couldn’t get away.”
― Cynthia Voigt, When She Hollers

Confession. All my adult life I’ve read the articles in women’s magazines about the perils of winter on a girl’s skin, and I always assumed I got genetically lucky. My skin was largely okay. Even living in a desert state with dry air for years, the only thing that really affected my complexion was hormonal cycles and bad eating (still occasionally guilty of the latter). Then I moved to London. After an initial breakout, my skin calmed down again (many thanks for your advice)…until winter hit.

Team, consider me a convert. The magazines were not, in fact, just lying to promote sales of various products. The desert air has nothing on your old school heater in a city flat. I’ve never experienced the flaking, cracking, and shedding of my epidermis that I have in the last couple of months. Also, as a child I had eczema that mostly cleared up, except for my scalp where it has more or less stayed for the past two decades. Annoying but manageable. Not anymore! My eczema is back with a vengeance and it has become quite painful in areas.

2014-01-24 08.39.32
I’m giving the mirror some serious side-eye here.

Sorry to the more prurient minded among you, that’s not a hickey. It’s but one of the visible patches of winter eczema currently dotting my neck, chest, and face. This one is mostly healed, after a week long battle with medication. I’ve got streaks of it just below the neckline of my supremely fashion forward alma mater hoodie, and a patch on my right temple which took a big enough hit that I’m pretty sure its going to leave some scarring. Drat.

The current arsenal.
The current arsenal, posed in front of the offending heater.

Nivea is currently managing things below the collar bone while my argan balms and are keeping things like knees, elbows, and feet intact. I’ve got my eczema specialist for spot treatment, my moisturizer with SPF for day and my eye cream and Kiehls treatment for night. Lips require their own regimen. Neosporin gets slathered on any point where the skin is punctured, fractured, or generally abused. One heavy duty cream for the nights where they won’t cut it. For the first time in my life I’ve needed the occasional slathering of hand cream after a day out in the cold!

All of this is mostly helping, but I’m wondering if it’s a bit much and if there’s an easier way to keep my skin from falling off. So I’m putting another call out for winter skin and facial care recommendations. RSVP. Before I disintegrate.

13 thoughts on “The Winter of My Skin’s Discontent”

  1. So, oils are great for smoothing and softening, but you might look into something with ceramides, which will help to actually keep more moisture in your skin. Cerave is good for the face, and cheap, if you can find it there, and I think Curel makes a body moisturizer. http://dermatology.about.com/od/skincareproducts/tp/Ceramide_moisturizers.htm. My friend also swears by Aquaphor. I’ve been having decent success with Eucerin Q10 on my face. It’s technically a wrinkle cream, but it’s working pretty well as an all-around winter moisturizer. And it’s better under my makeup than primer–some blotting is needed at midday, but I’m not getting any more no flakiness or dry patches, and I would rather one than the other.

      1. The dermatologists, actually. Teenagers are all about this stuff: http://eltamd.com/product/moisturizer/ because they’re all on Retin-A and it’s the best for chemical treatments. It’s totally occlusive, which means that almost no water can get out of your skin. But it is NOT A JOKE. I have used it, and it’s basically spreading Vaseline on your face.

  2. Nivea is great and you could also try Eucerin (they have a bath oil that I love). I’ve found MAJOR success with Lush products. Their Dream Cream has done wonders on my legs and the Imperialis wash has really helped my face. Also their Almond Shower Smoothie is divine. Those are a bit more expensive, but they make my skin super happy and I like that they are chemical free.

  3. And here I thought I was the only one with skin ruined London style. I’m finding pure argan oil the most helpful, and pretty much all my body lotions, shampoos and balms have got argan oil in them these days. I put hand cream on several times throughout the day ( I keep one on my desk at work ). It’s working, my skin is a lot better than on its first encounter with British winter, but I still crave for the times when I didn’t have to put in all this effort.

  4. I’m also recently obsessed with Dr Brandt’s XYY cream, which I got a sample of and is amazing, but I haven’t been able to talk myself into shelling out the $60 for yet. I already spend so much money on skin goop!

      1. Especially since I’ve already used the ‘but if you you but better quality, it pays off in the end!’ argument with my mascara, and my eyeshadow, and my sunscreen, and my facial oil, and my foundation, and etc etc etc.

  5. I recommend Aveeno’s daily facial moisturizer. It works great, and is the first thing I’ve found that really keeps me moisturized, but not oily.

    I’ve also had trouble with ezcema since I had Quinn. I tried changing my soap, even got some prescription stuff, but the thing that really helped was adding flax seed to my diet. Omega-3s really help your skin. I would add some to smoothies, granola, or oatmeal. It has a slightly nutty taste. Since I started doing that, I haven’t had a problem.

    1. I’ve started taking some fish oil and primrose oil on advice to get more omega-3s and it’s helping but I think the oatmeal in smoothies is a great idea. Thanks!

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