When the weather turns cold and the sun has gone into hibernation, it seems like our skin problems become worse. Without skin-friendly vitamin D shining down on us and a diet that probably leaves a lot to be desired (it’s Christmas, after all!), it’s little wonder that our skin is most likely looking a little (or a lot) worse for wear. We’re feeling it here at Byrdie HQ, but we wanted to find out whether you were too, so we asked you, our followers on Instagram, what your biggest skin problems are. And you answered—listing everything from acne to rosacea. In fact, there were more than a few common concerns among you, so we’ve listed them out and shared some solutions and further reading for each of the skin problems so you can tackle them before winter (and that box of Quality Street) completely take hold.
Keep scrolling for solutions to the five biggest skin problems.
Also known as dermatitis, eczema is inflammation of the skin. A few readers called out eczema: “Eczema is the bane of the life!” one reader shared. “On my hands and little patches around my eyes and on my body. The only things that help are Epsom salt baths and a thick layer of cream.”
Eczema is often genetic but can be caused and exacerbated by external factors like diet, stress and certain medications. Our expert columnist Jane Leonard, MD, recommends emollients (moisturisers) to prevent the skin from drying out and Topical corticosteroids, creams and ointments that reduce swelling and redness during flare-ups.
Want to know which skincare products are best for eczema? Head to the National Eczema Association’s website for its list of approved buys.
Hormonal Spots and Adult Acne
“[Adult acne] is like an epidemic. We have so many sufferers [in this country]. It is important to acknowledge that it is a skin disease. It is not normal and not a right of passage,” Stefanie Williams, MD, medical director of Eudelo, told The Telegraph.
More and more women are suffering from hormonal spots and adult acne, but the trouble is that we still have to deal with the other skin concerns that come with ageing, “Hormonal chin spots, forehead lines and dry skin,” one reader told us.
With adult acne, it’s a frustrating game of trial and error. What works for some people doesn’t work for others. I had terrible cystic acne along my jawline throughout my 20s, and a combination of the contraceptive pill, switching from skimmed milk to full fat and ditching oils in my skincare helped my complexion. (Plus, the addition of a daily face peel to slough away pore-clogging dead skin.)
Dry skin was a real issue for a lot of our followers. But did you know that there is a difference between skin that is dry and skin that is dehydrated? Unlike dehydrated skin, dry skin lacks oil. This isn’t a temporary condition, but it’s rather widely considered a skin type that tends to be more permanent.
The real giveaway is skin’s texture. “Dry skin occurs deep between the layers of your skin but causes dry, flaky skin cells to appear on the surface, making skin appear rough, cracked and a little bit leathery,” explains Time Bomb skincare expert Michaella Bolder. “It lacks suppleness and elasticity, which leads to wrinkles.”
Dehydrated skin can happen to any skin type from normal to oily. “Rather than lacking oil, dehydrated skin lacks water, which is vital in making it look plump and healthy. Dehydrated skin looks flat due to surface cell deflation, and it shows a network of tiny, triangular fine lines,” says Bolder.
Dry skin can’t be fixed—instead, you need to manage it by avoiding foaming cleansers, which can strip and dry out the skin. Using a product containing natural moisturising factors, which include amino acids, ceramides and fatty acids (among others) that are naturally found in healthy, well-hydrated skin will help. We love The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA (£5).
Read more about the differences between dry and dehydrated skin, plus how to treat each here.
General redness and rosacea seem to be of increasing concern, nowadays one in 10 Brits suffer from rosacea. For those who exercise excessively, redness can be a real issue, while city-dwellers may notice pollution-induced rosacea.
So what is it? “[Rosacea] is a chronic state of inflammation, which subsequently leads to facial redness, capillaries, acne-like bumps, and coarse skin texture,” says Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, the founder and director of Capital Laser & Skin Care. As someone who suffers from rosacea herself, Tanzi asserts that though it’s genetic, there are ways to treat it (and also make it worse).
Avoid washing your face with water that’s too hot. That means avoiding steam rooms and hot tubs too. Too much sun, cold weather, stress, alcohol and caffeine can all be triggers for people with rosacea, and it’s worth noting what yours are. The best way to manage it on the daily is to use gentle, non-irritating products that are pH-balanced and to avoid astringent ingredients like witch hazel or acids. In short: Be kind to your skin.
Another follower told us that dark circles are her big skin problem. “Dark circles and puffiness are a combination of life and genetics—that means they can become more prominent after pulling long hours at the office, too many margarita-filled nights, sun and sometimes allergies,” Amy Fan, Onomie’s general manager told Byrdie. “Try to avoid rubbing your eyes (be gentle when you remove eye makeup), getting too much sun exposure and pulling all-nighters, which all contribute to making under-eye circles worse,” says Fan.
Concealer will hide those dark circles, and you can’t beat YSL Touche Eclat (£26) for its under-eye brightening skills, but an eye cream will help to minimise the appearance of dark circles over time. Look out for the following hero ingredients that can have an impact on dark circles: Caffeine works by constricting blood vessels and boosting circulation, and hyaluronic acid can plump the area with an intensive moisture hit. Retinoic acid temporarily thickens skin to mask dark circles.