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How Winter Weather Impacts Sensitive Skin

Sensitive Skin In Cold Weather Has Special Needs.

External factors like weather impact the skin, especially extreme weather changes in areas with four seasons that have huge fluctuations in air temperatures and moisture levels. This can really impact those with sensitive or sensitized skin. The product chosen for treatments and home care can change drastically from season to season, especially for that clientele.    

Types Of Weather That Impact Sensitive Skin Skin 

The skin likes consistency, so when factors like weather, change quickly, it’s like a shock to the system. Our skin faces exposure to different temperatures, humidity, UV intensity, and air currents within each of the seasons. Science has proven that our skin actually changes in response to these fluctuations, the skin barrier is affected by climatic and seasonal changes, therefore the health of our skin changes too. 

High Heat

In warmer climates, increased heat and humidity can cause the skin to sweat, leaving it more prone to breakouts, especially if the skin is oily. The heat can also lead to other skin problems such as heat rash, hives, acne, rosacea, and other skin irritations. Not to mention, with sensitive skin, sometimes the heat is miserable and makes the skin feel itchy and uncomfortable.   


Colder climates can be even tougher on the skin. Cold temperatures often mean low humidity, which dries out skin. Bitterly cold winds can also strip moisture from exposed skin. Throughout the winter months, skin can be textured, red, tight, cracked, or peeling. For those clients with existing skin conditions, it can exacerbate those conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea. 

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As a rule, skin prefers a balance of humid and arid climates. Too much or too little humidity is equally as damaging to our skin. People living in places where humidity levels are low or nearly nonexistent are much more susceptible to water loss. This leads to skin feeling dry, itchy, scaly, and undernourished. Too much humidity however, and our skin becomes more likely to host harmful bacteria that can cause acne and infections, as well as raising our risk for rashes and other skin irritation.


Our skin’s natural barrier does a great job of keeping moisture in and irritants out, but harsh winds can strip vital water from the skin, weakening the barrier. When the barrier is compromised, our skin cells are programmed to react and makes the skin sensitive, dry, red, or irritated skin. It is important to repair and build the skin’s barrier by rehydrating and moisturizing skin.

Sun Exposure

No matter what the weather is like, the sun should always be a main concern. Exposure to sunlight is one of the major causes of wrinkles and premature aging, so wearing a high SPF sunscreen can keep the skin looking young and fresh for any season. 

Sensitive Skin In Cold Weather And All Seasons

Spring – The Ultimate Transitional Season.

Main concerns for skin in Spring are adapting to the increased sun exposure, new levels of humidity, temperature changes, and day-to-day climate differences.  Spring is an unstable and transitional season. No one is ever quite sure what they are going to get from an extended winter to warmth coming early. The biggest threat to our skin is the need to rapidly adapt as conditions change. 

Sebum production increases in the transition from winter to spring, so lighter products are needed to prevent overloading and clogging up our skin.  Oiliness and breakouts are always a risk in this transition period. Springtime also comes with environmental irritants that can cause skin conditions and increase sensitivities.   

Combat this season with soothing products that help support the skin’s moisture barrier, exfoliate dull winter skin away, protection from increased UV exposure, balance skin’s hydration as sebum levels adapt and use ingredients in a routine that help keep the barrier healthy. 

hydrating compromised skin

Contribution by Shawna Rocha

Shawna Rocha is the owner of Awaken Day Spa in California and Washington. She quickly developed a love for helping clients with compromised and sensitive skin and constantly strives to gain additional knowledge and education. Since becoming an esthetician, she has completed multiple advanced courses in Oncology Esthetics, Immuno-Esthetics, and has specialized training in sensitive skin and holistic therapies. Shawna holds several certifications, including a NCEA certification, and has recently become the Director of Education for Hale and Hush Skincare. Shawna won two awards in the Skin Games 2018 (People’s Choice & Acne/Problematic Skin) and became a judge for two categories in 2019. Shawna’s current passion is writing blogs and articles regarding the skincare industry and has recently become a Dermascope Ambassador. She is truly loved by her clients and colleagues and her passion for the industry is apparent in all that she does.

Summer – Turn Up the Heat

Main concerns for skin in Summer are sun exposure, high temperatures, and high humidity. Most of us will spend significantly more time outdoors during the summer months. This is the time of year when sun protection is crucial and should play a key role in summer skincare. 

The other big issue to consider in summer is sweat. Sebum production will increase, and when combined with sweat, the skin can be looking at an oil overkill that will clog pores if the products being used are too heavy. Equally, irritation by the salt sweat left on the skin and the dry heat can cause skin to become irritable and uncomfortable. Skincare must balance these concerns with dehydrating effects in order to fully protect and nourish the skin during summer.

High heat factors also can trigger skin irritations, rosacea, rashes, hives, and sun allergies. Summer can wreak havoc on those with sensitive and sensitized skin making it feel dehydrated, uncomfortable, and itchy. Combat this season with products that include ingredients that soothe sensitivities, give protection from UV exposure and environmental toxins, manage high sebum production, calm skin irritations, help increase cellular repair, and hydrate the skin.

Fall – Always Something New

Main concerns for skin in Fall are adaptation to new levels of humidity, change in temperature, windy and blustery weather, and daily climate differences. As another transitional season, fall poses similar issues as spring. Our skin doesn’t get the chance to recover from the summer assault and it becomes very sensitive to external stressors, so it’s not uncommon to experience breakouts, redness, or dryness during these months. The cooling temperatures can leave skin looking and feeling dull, and dehydrated.

One of the key weather changes at this time is the decreasing humidity. At the same time, sebum production decreases, and the central heating is pumping. Our behaviors during these cooler months- indoor heating, hot showers, and warming drinks- all have the unfortunate result of stripping our skin of even more moisture than the elements alone, and so hydration is the biggest focus during fall. 

Combat this season with products that include ingredients that balance skin hydration and moisture levels, adjust sebum levels and provide resurfacing treatments that combine physical and chemical exfoliants to refine texture and increase cell turnover. Adding brightening products full of antioxidants that will brighten and lighten skin and help to reducing visible skin aging and damage from summer. Fall is always the time to adjust and adapt a new skincare routine preparing for winter.

Winter – Sensitive Skin In Cold Weather Needs To Be Protected and Hydrated

Main concerns for sensitive skin in cold weather is working with low humidity, icy temperatures, cold wind, and extreme temperature differences from outdoors to indoors.  Winter is probably the harshest period on skin. Many people suffer from dry winter skin and the resulting irritation it brings. The combination of extreme changes from outdoors to indoors strips our skin of its natural moisture, leaving our skin dried out and sensitive.  The lack of moisture limits enzyme functions that the skin needs to maintain a healthy barrier. 

Sensitive skin in cold weather has to deal with the cool, dry air and windy conditions that can leave skin feeling dry, inflamed, sensitive, and irritated. It’s important to combat the winter chill with thicker, richer moisturizers and super-hydrating serums to help defend against these aggressors and bring added nourishment to the skin.

To help sensitive skin in cold weather you need to combat the weather with hydration, hydration, and some more hydration! Use calming and soothing products that do not exacerbate sensitivities and irritations and use products with ingredients that alleviate and protect damaged skin and problem areas.

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