Cleansing tip for less dry, tight or itchy skin in the winter

by Rayna van Aalst December 04, 2018

Cleansing tip for less dry, tight or itchy skin in the winter

During the colder months most of us experience flaky and itchy skin, even oilier skin types. As for dry skin - winter could be a nightmare.

No surprise that the focus during this time of the year shifts from applying sunscreen (this doesn’t mean you should stop using SPF daily) to applying “thicker” creams and balms to moisturize.

These “thicker” moisturizers however help alleviate the discomfort of tightness, dryness, etc but they don’t necessarily prevent the problem from reoccurring or help the skin heal.

I am a strong believer that before you make any change in anything, including your skincare regimen, you need to understand what’s going on.

Why does skin feel drier in the colder months?

Without getting too technical about how the skin functions –  its outermost layer contains a complex of lipids which guards moisture and protects against dehydration.

Exposure to the elements – cold weather, dry air, wind can damage the lipids in the barrier. Sun exposure, over-cleansing or using harsh cleansers, over-exfoliation also affect the lipid layer negatively.

How does skincare contribute to dry skin?

When I started educating myself about skin I came across an interesting paradox - water on the skin will only dehydrate the skin, unless you lock in the water.

I use the word “paradox” intentionally as skin is approximately 60% water and one would expect that just adding more water would benefit the skin. Unfortunately that's not true.

What makes things even more confusing is that one of the most important steps in skincare is cleansing and cleansing involves water. Which means that cleansing could actually contribute to dehydrating the skin.

Someone who does great job explaining this subject is Josh Rosebrook (have a look at this article Josh wrote about dry oil cleansing).

Another advocate of reducing skin's contact with water in skincare is Svetlana, founder of Gressa.

This seems like a great moment for me to confess that although I have read heaps of information on the subject and my mind agrees with the fact that cleansing involving water is not doing the skin much good, I still struggle with committing to “waterless” cleansing. I believe a huge part of this struggle comes years of using cleansing products which require water, the refreshing feeling of water on my skin as well as of all the images I have seen of women splashing water on their face while advertising a face wash.

Last winter however I embraced oil cleansing in my morning skincare regimen (you can read the whole story here) and during a recent conversation with Josh he shared another great tip about reducing my skin’s contact with water. I’ve incorporated his advice in my evening skincare regimen but it could be just as easily used in the morning too.

As I already mentioned, the moment when skin comes in contact with water (when applying skincare) is while cleansing. The usual way to go is applying the cleanser on damp or dry skin, massage it in and then rinse the cleanser off with water.

What Josh recommended however is to apply his Complete Moisture Cleanse on dry skin and massage around. Emulsify it with 3-4 pumps of Hydrating Accelerator and massage more. Then remove with wrung out wet washcloth. Spritz with Hydrating Accelerator and follow with your serums and moisturizers.

If you like to double cleanse, you might want to first use the Herbal Infusion Oil and then follow with the Complete Moisture Cleanse as above.

The Complete Moisture Cleanse on its own will remove makeup but it depends on what kind of formula it is. Obviously waterproof makeup or more layers of makeup would require a double cleanse but most natural makeup brands will come off with one proper application of the Complete Moisture Cleanse.

Here’s what the formulators of some of our brands say about double cleansing. Either way, it’s up to you, what you feel comfortable with and how your skin looks and feels.

I've been using the Complete Moisture Cleanse as recommended by Josh for over three weeks now and I see a difference in how my skin feels. I also notice it to be more plump and supple. 

As usual, if you decide to give this tip a try make sure it’s the only change you make in your skincare so you can see how it affects your skin. Also, give it at least 3-4 weeks. 


P.S. Photo by Josh Rosebrook Skin and Hair Care.

Rayna van Aalst
Rayna van Aalst


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