Suffering from ‘Winter Skin’?

Suffering from ‘Winter Skin’?

I don’t know about you but a few weeks into winter, having forgotten what it was like to feel cold, I suddenly find myself diving to the bottom of my bag look for lip balm or digging out my bathroom cabinet to find that moisturiser or pawpaw cream I used ALL of last winter.  It creeps up on me every year and I always feel totally unprepared.  By the time I realise it’s winter again my lips are chapped, my hands are rough and my face is all dried out!


So how should we prepare our skin for Winter?


First, a little on skin pH.

pH levels are usually measured on a scale of 1 – 14, with 1 being the most acidic, and 14 being the most alkaline. The midpoint of 7, is the neutral point.  pH varies from 1 to 8 in humans. Our skin pH refers to the level of how acid or alkaline it is. The physiological pH of the stratum corneum of the skin is 4.1-5.8

The skin is the biggest organ in the human body. It is designed to fight infection and also environmental stresses. This protective ability is governed by pH levels.

The skin also has important homeostatic functions such as reducing water loss and contributing to thermoregulation of the body. The structure of the skin and its cellular composition work in harmony to prevent infections and to deal with physical and chemical challenges from the outside world.

The acidic pH of the ‘stratum corneum’ presents an antimicrobial barrier preventing colonization of bacteria. The pH influences skin barrier function, lipid synthesis, epidermal differentiation and desquamation. Enzymes and proteases of the skin are regulated by the pH.   Any disruption of the physical barrier leads to an increase of pH, returning to normal levels only after many hours.

Inflammatory skin diseases and diseases with an involvement of the epidermis exhibit a disturbed skin barrier and an increased pH. This is known for atopic dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis, ichthyosis, rosacea and acne, but also for aged and dry skin. Normalizing the pH by acidification through topical treatment helps to establish a physiological microbiota, to repair skin barrier, to induce epidermal differentiation and to reduce inflammation.


Factors that affect your skin’s pH include -

  • Chemicals
  • Pollution
  • Frequent washing
  • Alkaline cosmetics
  • A change in temperature and/or humidity such as air conditioning
  • Some medications or medical procedures
  • Illness
  • Hormones, puberty, pregnancy, menopause
  • Sex – males have a slightly more acidic skin pH than women


With the understanding that our skin pH hovers around 5 or slightly below, using skin products that are too acidic or alkaline is detrimental and will damage our skin.

You can ensure your skin is prepared for Winter by optomising skin pH levels and creating a regular skin care regime during the colder months.


  1. Select skincare products that are pH balanced (pH 4.5-6) which will support the thin protective layer on the skin’s surface is known as the acid mantle.
  2. Cleanse with a gentle cleanser with pH levels above 5 to avoid loss of moisture and make sure the cleanser is suitable for your skin type. Your skin should feel clean and soft after cleansing.
  3. Gently exfoliate regularly to get rid of dead skin cells and to improve absorption of skin care products
  4. Use a skin toner to return the skin’s pH back to the optimal level after cleansing and exfoliating. Avoid toners that contain alcohol as they are an astringent and strip the skin of moisture
  5. Moisturise twice daily to restore