Historically, I find Autumn fairly terrifying – when the days start getting shorter, I stop wanting to get out of bed and when there’s less sunlight, my seasonal affective disorder kicks in and my circadian rhythms go all wonky. I love winter clothes, I love a bit of baroque and I think it’d be a lot easier to get out of bed in the cold if I could wear seasonal Dolce but the reality is that I have to make a really active effort in winter to keep my head above water.
I can be blasé about it, as I can be about most things on here, but it feels really scary that I can already start to feel myself slipping into a frightening place, I am already lying in a little later, my mind feels a little fuzzier, I am a little quicker to get upset, just that closer to an edge that I don't want to teeter on ever again. I am panicking that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy, that if I worry about falling back into depression too often then I will anyway, but I am also looking at what I can do that I know is good for me in winter.
A few years ago, I started getting eczema on my face as a result of a combination of stress and the changing weather. It was devastating, I felt completely repulsive, and it felt like an extra kick in the teeth that it was happening partly as a result of being unhappy, like some sort of vicious misery cycle. The changes in temperature that your body faces during winter, going from freezing cold outdoors to boiling hot central-heating-ed houses, is a real killer for your face. Combined with winds, the fact that cold air has less moisture than warm air, hot drinks and hot showers, your skin is about a million times more likely to get scaly when it’s cold outside.
However. There are solutions to these problems. Many years of therapy, daily meditation and beauty products get me by through the winter months, and I’m telling you about them in autumn so that you have plenty of time to get prepared. The beauty products that is, not the therapy, I'm unfortunately not that helpful. And Alisande has mindfulness covered. It might all seem a little pricey or a little extravagant, but it's a lot cheaper than a stint back in the crazyhouse. Or whatever I ought to call it. The asylum?
Something that I have discovered recently and am promoting like a crazyperson (hah! As if I’m ever a crazyperson!) is Nourish’s Argan Skin Rescue. It might sound counter-intuitive to put oil on your skin, particularly if you are prone to breakouts, but oil cleansing methods are actually incredibly good for you. Oils are easier for your skin to absorb than a typical moisturizing cream or balm, so they don’t sit on your face, and they help dissolve blackheads by means of breaking down the oils clogged in your pores.
The point of moisturizing is to help bring your skin to an equilibrium because, if, you don’t moisturize, your skin can over-produce oil in a panic – I think of it in the same way that I now think of dieting; when you starve your body of something, the second it gets a bit of oil or a bit of cake or whatever it is that it needs, it hoards it. So, dieting ends up making you fat, and stripping your skin of its oils makes you oilier in the long-term.
I apply a tiny drop of the oil to my palms, rub them together and then massage the treatment into my face right at the end of the day. The oil also helps stimulate collagen production in the skin, which plumps your face and protects against wrinkles. It also has lots of Vitamin E and Neroli oil which helps combat scarring, if you have any existing blemishes.
I’ve also been using YSL’s Forever Youth Liberator Eye Zone Serum (£45), which is a sort of gel for the area from your eyes to your temples. I know I’m only 24, but prevention is better than cure and I get horrific dark circles, in spite of how much my sleeping increases when it is darker outside.
I’m usually very suspicious of brands who specialize in makeup and fragrance branching out into skincare, but this one is actually the best eye serum I’ve found in a long time – although it feels a tiny bit sticky upon application, my circles are noticeably lighter. Again, the chemistry behind this focuses on collagen production – it claims to stimulate glycans which decrease with age (and are partially responsible for producing collagen) in order to plump up your epidermis. I don’t know how much it does for my glycans, but I am telling you, my circles are a lot better than they were before I started using it.
My lips also go to pieces during winter. I typically use a second toothbrush to sort of exfoliate my lips of dry skin so that my lipstick applies better, but that means they end up dry, and I gnaw at them when I am anxious (often) so they are a little bit gross even in summer, but they get incredibly chapped the second temperatures drop.
Malin + Goetz’s Lip Moisturiser has been the answer to all of my (lip-related) problems. It isn’t sticky or heavy, which is hard to find in a lip balm –and it has no taste and absorbs incredibly well. I’ve really done the rounds of different lip moisturisers, from Eve Lom to Kiehls (which was my go-to for years) to Clarins, but I promise you that this is the best one.
I can resent spending more than a pound on a lipbalm (I’m not sure why) but, as substantiated by my photoboothing for these articles, I love a good pout. And a good pout is not accentuated by peely lips. The only other product I use on my lips these days is the product that I have carried with me everywhere I go for years: Lucas’ Papaw Ointment (£5.75).
Made of fermented papaya in Australia, this works for everything. Cuticles? Check. Lips? Check. It is amazing for burns, for scars, for elbows and knees... The reason I don’t only use this is that it contains petroleum, which means it doesn’t actually moisturize in the long term, but acts as a short-term solution. It seals in moisture rather than helping stimulate your skin’s productions, but that means it is absolutely perfect to help a cut heal and prevent scarring (when I get a little over-zealous with home extraction). Essentially, it is cheap and easier than me carrying about a sack of glass bottles in my handbag.
When I’m at home in the winter months (often), I use Sally Hansen’s Nailgrowth Miracle Serum (£12) on my cuticles before I sleep. Seriously, everything gets chapped on me during winter, and if my cuticles aren’t in decent condition then I will peel them apart when anxious (again, often) and end up with a bloody mess where my fingers should be. It’s gross, so I’m fairly militant around keeping them in good condition.
This pipettes out which is handy because I don’t get it everywhere and whilst I love a cuticle oil (Skin Truth’s, in particular) to carry around with me, I got sick of my hands getting all oily before I went to sleep so I have converted to a serum which is actually working incredibly well. And I generally love Sally Hansen nail products, be it strengthening base coats or nail wraps, they have served me well, so I am sticking by this one this winter.
I wouldn’t feel this review was complete without a face mask. I do love a face mask. I am going to guilty reveal my favourite for winter, although it is almost too expensive for me to justify affording on my income: Dr Sebagh’s Rose de Vie Hydrating Mask. Seriously, put it on your Christmas list if you can’t justify it as an essential.
It is rose scented, which immediately makes me incredibly enthusiastic and it is actually specifically directed to combat dehydration during winter when central heating ruins your skin. It doesn’t just address re-hydrating skin but aims to promote and boost moisture levels from within using citraline (an amino acid derived from watermelon), which means that it works in the long term – which is what I need.
As I’ve said before, I’m all about the long-term solutions, these days. It smells amazing. Seriously, amazing, delicately rose-y and it’s really gentle to apply because it’s creamy and soothing, and it has extracts of iris too – basically, it smells delicious, I’d trust Dr Sebagh with my life, he’s my skincare hero and it costs the same as an hour of therapy. Justification complete.
Now that we’re on the topic of masks and I’m into my hair care these days, I’m going to finish with a hair mask. Michael Van Clarke’s 3 More Inches Pre-Wash Treatment is incredible; you apply it generously all over your hair and leave it for an hour (or overnight, I always prefer leaving things on overnight, I feel I get my money's worth) and then wash your hair as normal.
If you use products with silicone or parabens in, you should wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo before you apply it for maximum absorption and it is brill. I have spent almost my entire life wishing that I had hair that could cover my breasts like a mermaid but, as I’ve discussed before, my hair just kept dropping out of my scalp. When I found products that promised me length, I was pretty enthusiastic, but to be honest, it is the conditioning aspect of it which is the best. It isn’t heavy, but it does leave your hair feeling nourished and glossy and healthy – people actually notice the difference when I use it which is sort of insane as I usually assume only I can tell that sort of weird shit.
So that is how I plan to appear healthy this winter, on the offchance that I put all of this therapeutic work into practice and stave off the seemingly inevitable seasonal misery. What are your plans to keep you healthy this winter? Seriously - what do people do in winter to deal with their lives? Do you get miserable in winter? Do you like face oil? Share with me! I'm all about the sharing.
You can find Olivia on Twitter @oliviasinger.