In the summer our skin looks tan, fresh, and clean, but our skin is just the opposite during winter months. It may sound odd that our acne gets worse in the winter but our skin care routine and cold weather can be to blame.
During the cold months we are constantly exposed to processed heat, wind, and cold dry air which irritates our skin by drying out the natural oils that help moisturize it.
The cleansers that we use in the warmer months to regulate oil production are very effective at reducing blemishes but those same cleansers can cause breakouts by drying out our face too much. When our skin gets too dry then our body starts to produce more oil which can lead to clogged pores.
In the winter it is a smart idea to cut back on products that contain salicylic acid and/or benzoyl peroxide as those products will just dry out our skin more. Instead, use an oil-free or nonacnengenic moisturizer (a moisturizer that is less likely to cause acne) that does not clog pores.
Another way to stop over-drying of our skin is by not washing our face multiple times a day as washing also removes those natural oils we want to lubricate our skin.
Keeping our body hydrated is just as important as keeping our skin hydrated so make sure to drink a lot of water or tea. Staying hydrated helps our body get rid of waste and restores nutrients.
Most of us do not typically "diet" during the winter as we do not have to be seen in a bathing suit but that attitude leads to over-eating of simple carbohydrates. When we eat sugar our insulin levels spike causing a "sugar high" which gives us a big burst of energy but when the sugar high is gone we then feel lethargic and our mood changes. Because of the constant hormone fluctuations in our body we then experience breakouts.
Along with not eating a healthy diet, we also lack exercise in the winter. When we do not exercise we become sluggish and our blood circulation decreases but when we do exercise and get oxygen into our body our blood circulation increases and helps the skin rid of toxins that lead to spots and blemishes. A supplement that is effective at increasing blood circulation is Ginkgo Biloba.
Another reason why acne gets worse in winter is because we do not get enough sun exposure which causes a lack of vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for acne because it helps relieve inflammation, regulates insulin, and protects against the skin bacteria (propionibacterium acnes or p.acnes) that are known for causing acne.
Vitamin D has also been shown to help treat other skin issues such as rosacea and psoriasis (study). Taking natural acne pills and supplements like Vitamin A, Vitamin B5, and Selenium have also been shown to help prevent new blemishes from forming.
You may be deficient in this vitamin if you live in a cold and cloudy climate, you work indoors, or do not get 2-3 days of sun exposure. I believe that it can be beneficial to go tanning a few times during the winter to replenish the vitamin D in our bodies and also because UV rays are effective at killing p.acnes which is known is light therapy.
Here are a few other tips to follow to prevent your acne from getting worse in the winter.
Avoid touching your face and neck
Change your pillowcase every few nights
Remove makeup before bed
Use a humidifier if the air is too dry
Open up your window for a few minutes in the morning to let fresh air in and processed heat out