I like woolly jumpers, hot toddies and a good excuse to curl up with Netflix on a Friday night, but I'm not so down with pretty much everything else that arrives with winter: barely-there daylight hours, startling energy bills and cracked, flaky, goose-pimply skin. I'm still working on the first, a hot water bottle helps with the second and here's my streamlined pre-emptive strike plan for the third: gently exfoliate and moisturise.
So why exfoliate? Exfoliating helps remove dead skin cells, which can block pores and reduce your skin's ability to absorb moisturisers. In addition to the usual rough patches and flakes many of us are prone to, goose pimples called keratosis pilaris are a common skin condition that most often appears on the upper arms, thighs and bum. The bumps are caused by keratin building up and forming little plugs in the hair follicles. Harmless, but annoying. You're unlikely to remove them entirely, but gently exfoliating to slough off the plugs and frequently moisturising should help.
To exfoliate the body and face, a washcloth will do – seriously, we’re exfoliating, not sandblasting – but I recently discovered the Konjac Sponge. Konjac is a vegetable that is rich in moisture, naturally alkaline and packed full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Rubbing your body with a Japanese potato sounds more like a regrettable trend than a sensible beauty hack, but I seriously love this squidgy little sponge and Some sponges come combined with bamboo charcoal and French clays for different skin types.
You can use them with a cleanser or body wash, but this can shorten their lifespan (up to three months). I use one for my face on its own a few times a week, giving my skin a break from cleansers, and I’m always surprised by how smooth, soft and moist it leaves my skin. And I can simply add it to the compost heap when it’s time for a new one because it’s 100 per cent biodegradable.
With dead skin cells out of the way, your moisturiser can work its hardest. I love Dr Hauschka organic products and the Almond Soothing Body Cream is spot on for dry, sensitive skin. Don't let the liquid, milky texture fool you – this is a rich, intensive moisturiser that spreads easily, absorbs well and leaves the skin oh-so soft, calm and hydrated thanks to ingredients such as shea butter, St John's wort, quince, marsh mallow and sweet almond. The scent might be too sweet for some, but I love it and can't stop smelling my arms.
For a fresher, citrusy scent and richer texture, there's Weleda Skin Food. Yes, it's worth the hype. This natural, seriously thick body cream protects and reboots the driest of skin with ingredients such as sunflower seed and sweet almond oil, chamomile and calendula.
It’s harder to spread, so it’s perfect for rough patches like the hands, elbows and feet. And it makes for an excellent mask treatment to give your face the occasional boost in the winter months.
Simply cleanse your face as usual, open the pores with a warm cloth, apply a thin layer of Skin Food, chill out for 10 minutes, remove excess cream with a warm cloth and voilà – skin that’s baby-bottom smooth and painlessly looking forward to summer.