Award-winning skin and dermal therapist, Isabella Loneragan, is urging Australians to wear sunscreen and take special scalp care throughout winter, despite common misconceptions that the sun’s harmful rays are diminished during the cooler months.
According to the Cancer Council, Australia has some of the highest levels of UV radiation in the world, even during the Southern Hemisphere winter.
“Some mistakenly think that during July and August when the down under sun doesn’t feel as strong, we can ditch the SPF but in reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Stopping sunscreen in winter is the single worst thing you could do in terms of skincare,” Isabella said.
“As the skin’s barrier is often impaired in the winter, damage from UV assault can actually be worse than in summer. Without SPF, the skin is exposed to the sun's harmful rays and can result in sun damage like fine lines, wrinkles and pigmentation."
Isabella’s best skincare hack is to mix a squirt of foundation into your facial SPF 30 to give it some colour; or better yet, use an already tinted SPF.
The internationally-trained and highly-awarded skin therapist with almost two decades of experience in dermatology and cosmeceuticals says that skincare regimes should change from season to season; and in the winter, when the air is cool and dry, increasing hydration with sunscreen is important. "During the colder months our oil glands produce less oil which results in dryer skin. On top of this, heaters can be our skin's worst enemy as they take out moisture in the air, decreasing the humidity and causing our skin to dry out.
"When it comes to the warmer months, humidity increases and melts the oil in our glands resulting in a shiny or oily appearance. Due to these differences in our skin, our skincare should adapt to suit these seasonal-based changes.
“Winter is a great time to up the ante on using a retinol product. Vitamin A is a great cell rejuvenating ingredient that is best used in winter. Also, using more nourishing products to feed the skin is a good idea during winter.
“Hydrating serums are great for combating red, tight and sensitised winter skin, and sunscreen certainly helps in this regard too. Of course, everyone’s skin is different but generally, I recommend using a good cleanser, exfoliating enzyme, a mask and one or more serum containing Vitamin A, B or C,” Isabella sai.d
When it comes to good scalp care however, Isabella says the season is somewhat irrelevant and adequately caring for the scalp means using products with the right ingredients to tackle the unique conditions of one’s scalp.
“Scalp skin is not like the rest of the body’s skin. It is very delicate; even more so than facial skin. It has a higher number of sebaceous glands, sweat glands and hair follicles (which is why hair gets oily) and a lower barrier function compared to skin on rest of the body.
“If your scalp is overly-oily or if it is dry and itchy, then you need to consider what you are doing to it. If you are washing it a lot, you may be stripping off the natural oils resulting in dry and itchy symptoms.
“Interestingly though, if you have oily hair, it can also be because you are over washing it because when the oil is stripped, the glands sometimes overproduce to compensate.
“I typically recommend some experimentation to pinpoint exactly what is causing the problem – whether it be a super oily scalp or a dry and itchy one. Opting for gentle shampoos – especially those that don't have sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) – is a good place to start as SLS is a stripping ingredient,” Isabella said.
Isabella Loneragan is the creator of Ragan Skin and renowned for her offering of bespoke intuitive facial treatments, including The Intrinsic Facial. Find out more here.