Taking care of our winter skin

Sarka Havlatkova is the owner of Revive by Sarka, a holistic spa on Beach Street in Vineyard Haven. —Cathryn McCann

Some people’s skin-healing remedies don’t stray far from just taking a dip in the sea or spending a day in the sun. Since those days are behind us, and most dermatologists would discredit the therapy to begin with, The Times caught up with a few on-Island businesses for tips and techniques on how to take care of our winter skin. Things are about to get really dry, really quick, but here are some ways your skin can stay ahead of the season’s harsh effects.

“The big thing with winter skin, and this is especially true on-Island, is there’s such a quick change of season with weather,” Gwyneth Wallace of Bluewave Body Co. said in an interview with The Times. “It was practically summer last week, and now everyone has their heat on. When weather changes so quickly, is makes the skin dry up faster.” Ms. Wallace is from Edgartown, and makes her own beauty and skincare products using Island-inspired ingredients.

As temperatures drop, humidity is drawn from the air, which draws moisture from the skin. Ms. Wallace said it’s important to use products that fill the skin with moisture. She said to search for products with glycerin, which is a compound that improves skin’s smoothness and moisture content.  

Sarka Havlatkova of Revive by Sarka in Vineyard Haven agreed that weather extremities from one season to the next are a source for irritated skin. “From November to April, we find our skin dry, dehydrated, red, and blotchy,” she said. “The extreme change of temperatures disrupts the barrier of the skin.”

Our skin needs oil and water to prevent dryness and dehydration, according to Ms. Havlatkova. “Just using one is not going to be enough,” she said. “Our skin needs a balance.”

Ms. Havlatkova recommends products with shea butter, arnica, and sea buckthorns to repair the irritated barrier of the skin. She also said anti-inflammatories work.

“Camomile is a natural anti-inflammatory,” Ms. Wallace said. “You’ll notice I put it in most of my products.”

Ms. Wallace recommends Bluewave Body Co. Coconut Cleansing Milk for irritated skin; it’s made with rosewater, coconut milk, camomile, and colloidal oatmeal to soothe redness and irritation.

Pamela Danz of Bodysense in West Tisbury also recommends oils for keeping skin hydrated. “Like treats like,” Ms. Danz said. “Some people get really freaked out about putting oil on their face. But when you start applying it, your skin stops having to produce as much of it, and eventually craves it.”

She said Dr. Hauschka’s Rose Day Cream is a bestselling product during winter, “It’s very good for protection, and our skin needs a little more protection as temperatures drop.”

Ms. Danz swears by Dr. Hauschka’s skin care line: “There are lines out there that are just as good, but none that will be better.”

The line was introduced in 1967, when it was considered revolutionary to use natural products for skin care. Many of Dr. Hauschka’s products are infused with the borage plant, which has been used in folk medicine for centuries. Borage plants have astringent and soothing properties that support skin renewal and toning, according to Dr. Hauschka’s website.
“I think that winter skin is harder to manage because the humidity goes down outside, but heat goes up in our homes, so the skin isn’t regulating itself well,” Ms. Wallace said. “Everyone’s more active in the summer, so the skin is more plump and hydrated. In the winter, it needs a little more help.”

Ms. Danz said she likes to use oil-based products in the winter, and water-based products in the summer. She also notes that everybody’s skin is different, so it’s important to pay attention to what works for the individual.

She also said applying sunblock and drinking water are habits that tend to subside with the ending of summer, but both are crucial for having healthy skin year-round. Ms. Havlatkova agreed, “Ninety percent of premature aging is from UV sun damage. Wearing sunblock year-round is crucial for skin care. Even something as light as a powder. We have this lightweight, water-resistant powder for clients.”

Caleen Abraham from Caleen’s Day Spa in Vineyard Haven recommends facials in the winter. “Now that it’s winter, people have more time to take care of their skin,” she said.

Facials for anti-aging, and to lighten skin after summer are the most popular among the many facials Ms. Abraham offers.

“If you’ve been in the sun a lot, you want something to lighten those sunspots,” she said.

Caleen’s Day Spa uses Repêchage products, which are made primarily from seawater and seaweed, for facials and skincare. The Repêchage Biolight Miracle Facial helps brighten skin and diminish the appearance of hyperpigmentation from the sun, acne scars, or hormonal changes. The Repêchage Vita Cura 5 Phase Firming Facial is another popular product, designed to invigorate, lift, and firm mature skin. According to Ms. Abraham, treatments start at $95, and come with free products to take home.

Ms. Abraham also makes her own nourishing facial oil in-house, which is infused with rose, marula, sea buckthorns, and yarrow. It is a nighttime serum that moisturizes and helps with dryness and sunspots.

Ms. Havlatkova added that wearing a nighttime serum or moisturizer can be crucial for your winter skin.“Pillow cases, especially flannel ones, suck moisture out of the skin,” she said. “It’s important to apply a serum to the face and neck so our skin doesn’t lose water at night.”

Chapstick and a good night’s sleep are another two quick fixes.

“It’s important to remember that the skin is the largest organ in our body,” Ms. Danz said. “It breathes, and it changes with our mood and with the seasons. Because of that, it needs different things at different times.”