The Big Freeze

Wherever you are planning to spend your winter this year, you will be exposed to cooler temperatures that will affect your skin and hair’s condition causing dryness and itchiness.

Bahrain may not suffer from freezing conditions as many countries do, but nonetheless you will have noticed the warmth slipping away. The winter months come hand in hand with harsh winds and cold air that cause our bodies to react visibly. Most noticeably our hair and skin will protest, with frizz affecting the former and dryness evident on the latter.

We have a tendency to react with what we consider to be instant solutions; no one wants to turn up at their office Christmas party with their foundation flaking and static hair. So, we slap on the moisturiser and conditioner and hope for the best!

However, as our experts have verified, this can worsen the condition of the hair and skin leaving both in worse shape than before. They’ve outlined the three areas that we should concentrate on this winter to ensure we remain looking healthy and flake-free and ready to take on the New Year.

Your skin
Our expert: Dr Bhartendu Mehta, dermatologist at American Mission Hospital.
The skincare products you use in the winter should be different to your summer ones. You need to take the time to find products that suit your skin’s condition. In moments of dire depression, we have been known to purchase the most ludicrously priced products to save our skin, a move that Dr Bhartendu doesn’t recommend.

“Expensive products are not necessarily better,” he says. “Most of the time, the extra cost is due to packaging and marketing. Instead you should consult your dermatologist for the best product for your own skin type.”
Lips will also become dry and chapped in the cold so ensure you use a balm regularly throughout the day to soothe soreness.

Preventing dryness
As expected, Dr Bhartendu immediately hailed moisturisers as the product we should all be using to protect from the cold climate. However, not just any moisturiser will do the trick.

“You should try to use oil-based products which are much better than water-based ones,” the doctor recommends. “The oil forms a protective layer on the skin and retains water loss, thereby preventing dryness. Oils like avocado, primrose, mineral and almond oil are preferable as they are ‘non-clogging’ agents.”

Dr Bhartendu suggests that we look for products containing alcohol and sorbitol. “These help prevent hydration loss as they attract moisture to the skin,” he adds.

The secret defender
“Daily sun protection is crucial,” states the doctor. “It is not just for the summer as the sun in the winter is just as powerful.”

A large amount of affordable daily moisturisers are formulated with an SPF factor. “You should select one that has a minimum SPF factor of 15 to shield your skin’s surface from the sun’s harmful rays,” he explains.

Your hair
Our expert: Trisha Smith, style director and senior colour technician at Toni&Guy, Seef Mall.
Your locks must be cared for just as much as your skin — after all, they won’t magically stay strong and healthy!

“All year round a conditioner should be used on the hair to replenish the moisture lost from everyday wear and tear,” says Trisha. “In a country like Bahrain, the temperature will drop during the winter months but the sun will continue to shine strongly. The key ingredient to look out for in any hair care products is SPF factors and UVA filters.”

Saving damaged hair
Make sure that you can identify when your hair is having a crisis and know how to help it. Particularly during this time of the year, hair can become uncontrollable, rough and break easily.

“Help your hair by limiting your use of styling tongs and straighteners. Another good tip is to wash hair with sweet water. This saves it from becoming dehydrated from chemically cleaned water,” Trisha suggests.

“Also, use cool water as a final rinse on the hair close to the cuticle and that you change the products you use every three months, as hair will become used to the products and they won’t work as well. For best results, find two or three products that you like and alternate.”

The winter saviour
If your hair is really feeling sorry for itself, invest in a concentrated product that will restore its health. “label.m’s Intensive Repair Mask is fantastic as it contains shea butter to smooth and hydrate,” adds the stylist. “Use it once a week after shampooing and apply directly to towel-dried hair for 15 minutes. It will heal the hair and lock in moisture, leaving your locks looking luscious and strong.”

Your diet
Our expert: Remy Sleiman, head dietician at Carlton Nutrition Center.
Just as the products we use externally aid us, so does what we intake internally. “Your diet is key in determining the quality of your skin and hair,” Remy explains. “It has to be healthy, covering all nutrients that your body needs. A non-healthy diet causes deficiencies in vitamins and minerals that will harm the skin and hair, causing all varieties of problems.”

Winter diet adjustments
There is not one food that you can consume to improve your appearance. “Instead, you need to incorporate a complex of healthy food choices into your daily eating habits,” the dietician explains.

Make sure to eat plenty of fish, raw nuts and seeds. “These are rich in Omega 3 and will help repair any damage to the skin,” Remy continues. “Egg, ginger and oats are rich in zinc — another component in maintaining healthy skin.”

Other foods the dietician recommends include sweet potato, citrus fruits, berries, green leafy vegetables, garlic, onions and coloured vegetables. “The mentioned items contain antioxidants, vitamins (A, C and E) and minerals (zinc, silica and selenium) to maintain the vitality of your skin,” adds Remy.

Constant hydration
Water should be the most crucial element of your diet. “There are many underlying causes to dry skin, usually resulting in lack of water in your system. You must drink at least six to eight glasses of water a day to ensure that there is enough to hydrate your hair and skin,” she explains. “It remains the best beverage ever.”

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