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How Seasonal & Weather Changes Affect your Skin

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We hate to break it to you, but with summer fading fast and the nights drawing in, it's almost time to pack away the sandals, brush off the knitwear and start cranking up the central heating.

The change in season doesn't just call for a different wardrobe and toastier home. Everything from cooler, less humid weather and overly hot baths to hanging out too long in dry, stuffy indoor environments can deprive your complexion of moisture and wreak havoc on your skin.

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Cooler low-humidity weather

Humidity levels tend to drop off in the autumn and winter months. The drier the air, the more moisture it sucks from your skin, so you're more likely to experience dryness and flakiness during the colder months of the year, especially if you're prone to eczema or other dry skin conditions.

Ideally, you want to amp up your skincare routine as the season changes and swap your summer products for richer, more nourishing autumn/winter alternatives. "Just as you change your clothes with changing temperatures you should do the same with your skincare," says top dermatologist Dr Nick Lowe of London's Cranley Clinic. "You need to switch up your lightweight summer moisturiser to a more heavy duty face cream."

Harsh central heating

Unless we're lucky enough to get an Indian summer, you'll no doubt be switching on your radiators sometime during the next few weeks, which unfortunately will not do your skin any favours. "Heated air inside causes low humidity, which leads to water evaporating from our skin," says cosmetic dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting. "This can cause cracking, flaking and irritation and leave skin with a lacklustre, parched appearance."

You can mitigate the drying effects by investing in a humidifier to keep the air moist in your home or a portable device that you can also bring to work and pop near your desk. If you can't stretch to a pricey humidifier, placing a few bowls of water near your radiators should do the trick, too. And don't forget to drink lots of water and slap on your rich moisturiser as often as necessary, along with replenishing lip balm and extra-thick hand cream.

Sudden temperature changes

Going from the cold outdoors into balmy centrally-heated buildings and vice-versa can take its toll on your complexion. "Unfortunately, this process causes the capillaries in the face to contract and expand rapidly leading to broken veins and skin redness," says Harley Street dermatologist Dr Ariel Haus.

Keep the risk of spider veins and inflammation to a minimum by wrapping up warm in the cold and not overdoing it on the central heating to reduce the temperature difference between indoors and outside. A light layer of barrier cream will help protect the skin, and products with anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant ingredients such as chamomile and green tea should help control any redness.

Hot baths and showers

When temperatures plummet, a hot bath or shower is super-enticing, especially if you've spent the day outdoors in the freezing cold, after all, there's nothing more relaxing than a long soak in the bubbles or a nice soothing shower.

Sorry to rain on your parade but try to resist the temptation for the sake of your complexion if you can. "Hot baths and showers can dissolve the protective barrier in the skin which will eventually lead to dryness," Dr Lowe explains. "Have warm baths and showers to reduce this damage."

Cold weather comfort eating

For many people with oily, acne-prone skin, the drier weather can actually help with breakouts and reduce flare-ups. But autumn/winter comfort eating might have the opposite effect. Studies suggest that diets high in refined carbs may trigger or exacerbate acne. Foods with a high glycaemic index (GI) spike sugar which is thought to increase the levels of hormones in the body that are responsible for oil production.

If you want to avoid diet-related breakouts this autumn/winter, try not to go overboard on the carby comfort foods. That means going easy on the sugary treats, white bread, pasta, crisps and potatoes, whilst upping your intake of slow release carbs like oatmeal and brown rice.

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