Dry skin is as synonymous with winter as root vegetables and throw blankets. As soon as you start doing the hokey-pokey with the outdoor chill and indoor heating your complexion begins to suffer.
“As the temperature drops the skin’s response is to produce less oil and less water,” says facialist Jocelyn Petroni. “We don’t have the warmth and humidity in the air which help to keep the sebaceous oil glands soft and natural oils flowing. So, if you have oily skin, it will be less oily but if your skin is dry, it will be much more dry.”
IS YOUR SKIN DRY OR IS IT DEHYDRATED?
You may have heard the words ‘dry’ and ‘dehydrated’ used interchangeably when talking about the condition of the skin. But in fact, they’re different things. Put simply, “dry skin is lacking in oil and dehydrated skin is lacking in water,” says Petroni.
We constantly lose water in our skin through evaporation, more so when the air is dry, like in winter, or when we enter places where there is little moisture in the air, such as air-conditioned homes and offices.
“Everyone has a varying amount of skin dehydration; it’s that fish scale look of the skin,” says Petroni. “When dehydration is quite bad, the skin can begin flaking, which some people confuse for dryness.”
As well as flaking, dehydrated skin can appear dull and fine lines may be more prevalent. “Dehydration is a precursor for skin ageing,” warns Petroni. “We start with fine dehydration lines, and these develop into wrinkles.”
There’s a belief that when our skin is oily, we need to strip it clean. No, we don’t.
ZOË FOSTER BLAKE, FOUNDER OF GO-TO SKINCARE
Although dryness and dehydration are often confused, there is a single solution for both. “Facial oils will treat dryness and also help with dehydration because oils retain the water content in the skin,” says Petroni. “So in winter, I recommend taking your existing skincare products and swapping one of them out for a product that contains a little more oil.”
For a simple trade, consider switching your regular cleanser to a cleansing oil which will continue to do the job you need it to do (remove makeup and build-up) while restoring moisture to the skin.
CAN OILY SKIN-TYPES USE OILS?
“A cleansing oil is a cleanser with skincare benefits,” says Zoë Foster Blake, founder of Go-To Skincare. “Sometimes you wash your face and afterwards your skin feels as if something’s been taken away. Whereas, using a cleansing oil feels like you’ve been given something back.”
Nourishing and moisture-boosting oil-based washes sound like a no-brainer for dry and dehydrated skin but they’re also helpful for oily skin.
Foster Blake says one of the greatest skin misconceptions is that people with oily complexions should avoid oils altogether. “There’s a belief that when our skin is oily, we need to strip it clean. No, we don’t. The skin will start to over-produce oil, and it’s just going to make it worse.”
Cleansing oils are by no means a new innovation, Estee Lauder released one in 1947, but there’s been a recent influx of oil-based face washes on the market. Foster Blake’s Go-To Skincare recently released their own iteration called Fancy Face.
“I have dry skin, so personally I wanted something more nourishing in a cleanser,” she says. “Plus, I wanted something that would actually remove the SPF and layers of makeup.”
HOW TO USE A CLEANSING OIL
Because of their ability to melt away makeup and grit, a cleansing oil is perfectly positioned to be the first step in your night-time routine.
“Pump as much as you need, or as much as you like, into your hands and then massage into dry skin,” says Foster Blake, who notes that applying a cleansing oil to dry skin is important.
“The oils in the formula attract residual oils from your SPF and primer and dissolve them, but your face needs to be dry to do that. If there’s water on your skin, then it won’t be able to grip and take it away.”
Next, using a warm, damp cotton cloth, wipe your face clean.
Just as you might shampoo twice when washing your hair, Foster Blake recommends chasing with a second cleanse if you’ve worn a full face of makeup, skincare and sunscreen.
“I follow with Properly Clean [Go-To’s foam cleanser] on a day when I’ve reapplied SPF or have repetitively topped up my makeup. But on a day when I’ve just been at home and I’ve used a tinted moisturiser, I’ll wash just once with a cleansing oil,” she says.
As for those dreaded mascara smudges that withstand even the most vigorous scrub? Foster Blake assures that even waterproof mascara is no match for oils. “I used tubular mascara for years because I hate the panda eyes you get from traditional mascara. But a cleansing oil gets every little bit of makeup off.”
While oil formulas are great for shifting the build-up from the day, there are benefits for using one in the morning too.
“Some makeup artists like to use a cleansing oil as makeup prep because it’s so plumping,” says Foster Blake. “Before they apply makeup, they’ll cleanse their client’s face with an oil to make the skin juice up.”
Words by Bettina Tyrrell for Sydney Morning Herald