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We’ve survived a long, scorching summer like never before. Our skin has as well, but it may be feeling the ravages of too much sun exposure. Then along comes the chilly season, and skincare in winter is a whole other ballgame.  

Dry, tight, flaky and sensitive skin can affect all of us in the colder season, no matter what our skin type. Understanding the challenges of skincare in winter can help us prevent this. As the days get cooler, we need to switch our routine to damage repair and nourishment. And it’s the perfect time to have some more intensive skin treatments. Here’s what you need to know. 

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Skin challenges in winter

Nêô Sephiri bottle in statue hand
Camille Mcouat for Nêô Sephiri​​

The chill factor

What exactly causes our skin troubles in winter? It’s really a quadruple whammy of a drop in temperature and humidity, wind-chill factor and indoor heating.  This boils down to one thing – a compromised skin barrier, as these factors strip or cause cracks in the barrier film, the ‘force field’ on the surface of our skin that keeps moisture in and harmful things out . And this can have a serious impact on the health of our skin. And so our skin has to work incredibly hard to repair and maintain its protective barrier in order to prevent dehydration, inflammation or irritation, while it maintains good moisturisation. 

How winter affects your skin  

Dry, tight and flaky skin can be annoying for those of us with ‘normal’ skin, but winter can be extremely unpleasant for many types of skin and conditions.  

Dehydrated skin is a condition that can affect all skin types. It is very common because of that compromised skin barrier. It looks dull, rough and flaky and it can occasionally be tight in places. Luckily, it’s a reversible, temporary condition if you repair the barrier. 

Physiologically dry skin is a permanent, genetic condition, and it includes very dry skin, eczema and psoriasis. This skin lacks both water and lipids and it is an inefficient skin that is unable to hold on to moisture.  

In winter, this type of skin is very prone to redness and irritation. It can become very tight, rough, itchy, uncomfortable and prone to cracking and even bleeding. It needs to be protected and supplemented daily with barrier-therapy creams and medical care.  

Sensitive skin and rosacea Cold, dry weather is also a nightmare for this skin as it can aggravate redness, sensitivity and reactivity. And it can cause a flare-up for skins that have rosacea 

Your top priority 

Strengthen the skin barrier and calm inflammation. Choose a moisturising product that contains antioxidants, barrier-repair lipids and ingredients designed to soothe and hydrate. 

Oily and acne-prone skin is also at risk in winter. It may break out even more because of a dead skin build-up that traps oil and bacteria. And the harsh climate may cause pimples to become inflamed. Again, barrier repair is vitally important, as is gentle exfoliation and moisturisation. 

Skincare in winter: The do’s and don’ts of managing your skin

It’s quite simple... if you want your skin to function healthily and properly, keep its barrier intact and its moisture levels topped up. As our skin is our largest organ with maximum surface area exposed to the elements, this feels easier said than done when the temperature plummets. But it is achievable with some simple habits.  

We believe in a holistic approach, helping our skin from within and protecting it from external moisture loss: 

Nêô Sephiri Pure Kalahari melon oil bottle close-up
Camille Mcouat for Nêô Sephiri​​

Top up from within 

DO make sure your diet contains foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and healthy fats. 

Omega-3s are found in oily fish like salmon, and flaxseeds. They have an anti-inflammatory effect and are able to soothe irritated skin as well as providing the elements needed for skin repair. Avocados are also rich in healthy fats.   

DON’T give in to your cold-weather carb cravings. 

Junk food is always a bad idea, so try to keep it to a minimum. Foods that are high on the glycaemic index cause an insulin spike, which leads to inflammation in your body and skin.  

DO drink enough water.  

We know. It’s not easy to drink H2O when we’re craving warm drinks instead. But water is essential for keeping your body hydrated and functioning properly, especially in temperature-controlled environments.  

If cold water doesn’t do it for you, try a cup of hot water with lemon, honey and ginger. Or try one of the many types of flavoured tea with delicious fruit and flowers. Choose a stimulating, antioxidant-rich green or white tea for morning and switch to caffeine-free herbal teas like rooibos or chamomile later in the day. Just keep sipping! 

DON’T, however, overdo your alcohol intake. 

Drinking alcohol has a dehydrating effect on the skin and it has been shown to cause inflammation, which makes conditions like rosacea and eczema worse. So limit the amount you drink daily. And, of course, drink water in between.  

Face and body care 

DO become picky about your skincare ingredients. 

Read the label. If the product contains alcohol, DON’T use it, as this dries the skin.  

Look for ingredients that bind water and prevent water loss: hyaluronic acid, glycerine, lactic acid, squalane, ceramides and panthenol are great. Plant oils and butters such as Kalahari melon oil, rose hip oil, almond or jojoba oil and shea butter are rich in fatty acids that have a nourishing and protective effect. 

DO be careful with retinol and vitamin C. 

These are great ingredients for stimulating cell turnover and improving cell health (vitamin A), as well as improving radiance and treating hyperpigmentation (vitamin C), but they can be irritating, especially if your skin is feeling the winter pinch. Ensure you use a nourishing, barrier repairing product to counter these effects. If skin becomes very irritated, use only every other day, or stop all together. 

DO opt for richer textures. 

Swap your light summer gel and lotion cleansers and moisturisers for richer, comforting creams and oils.  

DO exfoliate.  

Eliminating dry, dead skin cells on your face and body is really important in winter as moisturiser can’t penetrate effectively through a thick layer of dead skin. Exfoliation will also help to prevent breakouts caused by a skin and oil build-up on your face, back and chest, which you have wrapped up in layers. 

It also helps to remove the pigmentation marks on the skin’s surface, which has built up over the summer. So your skin will look more radiant and even.   


DON’T be too rough. 

Make sure you exfoliate gently. Scrubbing away at your skin will cause irritation and moisture loss. For your face, use a gentle chemical exfoliator (with AHA or salicylic acid). These melt the ‘glue’ between old dead skin cells and living skin cells, so they slough off. For your body, you can use a physical scrub such as a gentle sugar scrub, or do some dry skin brushing before you shower. Double bonus: this also helps to stimulate circulation. 

DO avoid lingering, hot baths. 

We know they warm you up and relax you, but they can strip your body of its natural oils. Make sure the water temperature of your bath or shower is not too hot and use a mild, soap-free cleanser with moisturisers (try an oil wash) to clean your skin, so you don’t strip away its protective moisture barrier. 

DO moisturise pronto. 

Towel off lightly and apply a moisturiser to your damp skin ASAP to seal water in. Use a rich, protective moisturising body cream every day. 

DO make sure you protect your lips and hands.  

These bear the brunt of cold weather exposure and you don’t want them cracking, flaking and ageing before their time. Use rich, nourishing, anti-oxidant balms with added sun protection. 

DON’T sit too near heating.  

This dehydrates your skin. 

DO keep a humidifier in the room. 

This helps to keep the ambient air moist so your skin doesn’t dehydrate. 

Your secret weapon: Pure Kalahari melon oil serum

Enhance your skin’s night-time repair cycle by supplementing it with an anti-aging serum that is a boon for all skin types:  

  • Pure Kalahari Melon Oil contains Linoleic Acid (link to new story when live), which is essential for restoring your skin barrier

  • It is nourishing and hydrating and improves skin radiance  

  • It is anti-inflammatory and soothing, and it is suitable for rosacea and sensitive skin

  • It is brimming with antioxidant vitamin E. This also has a preservative action on the oil

  • It improves the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines 

  • It helps to rebalance oily and acne-prone skin, and prevent blemishes 

  • It is also an excellent slugging treatment

Nêô Sephiri Pure Kalahari Melon Facial Oil in hand
Camille Mcouat for Nêô Sephiri​​

The skin opportunities of winter

Winter is the best time to have more intensive skin repair and rejuvenation treatments, because the sun is weaker and you probably spend less time outdoors. 

This means it the ideal time to have treatments that work on the deeper layers of the skin, such as skin peels and resurfacing treatments, medical skin needling, RF microneedling and light therapies (such as Fraxel) to address melasma (hormonal pigmentation), deeper wrinkles and acne scarring, etc.  

Depending on the treatment you have, they work by inducing highly controlled injury in the dermis. This injury stimulates the skin to heal itself and produce healthy, new collagen, while old collagen is destroyed. This results in smoother, plumped-up skin and scars that are visibly reduced. 

With treatment for hyperpigmentation, old clumps of darker, patchy pigmentation in the deeper layers of the skin are broken up and superficial pigmentation is removed, so the skin tone becomes more evenly pigmented and uniform.  

A big caution  

  • Your skin will probably be drier, reddened and sensitive for a time after the treatment as the superficial layers may have been removed partly or completely. For this reason, you need to use a very gentle cleanser, an effective soothing barrier-repair serum, as well as an approved moisturising cream. 

  • These treatments can also make your skin photosensitive. If the skin is exposed to sunlight or UV, you may also get post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (dark spots) on treated areas. This means you must ensure your skin is protected from the sun and UV light. You need to continue to wear sunscreen throughout winter, both indoors and out – especially if you do outdoor sports.  

Nêô Sephiri oil
Camille Mcouat for Nêô Sephiri​​

If you put all our essential skincare in winter advice into practice, we’re sure your skin will enjoy a great season. 


Daniela Massenz
Daniela is a seasoned writer and editor who began her career in magazines (working for, among others, South African Psychologies, Shape, Men’s Health, Real Simple, In Style and Elle, as well as contributing to Emirates Woman and International Cosmetique News). Her work has been syndicated internationally and she is known for her research and ability to translate complex concepts into articles that will inform and engage the reader.