Winter skincare Q&A: Dr Katherine Armour

Dr Katherine Armour

The cooler months can play havoc with our skin. Melbourne-based Kiwi dermatologist Katherine Armour shares her advice on keeping skin healthy and youthful-looking:

How does temperature change affect our skin?
Winter exposes our skin to conditions such as indoor heating, decreased humidity in the environment and cold outdoor temperatures, which can all play a role in making skin more susceptible to dryness. Many women find they need a more nourishing moisturiser for both their face and body during the winter months.

What effect does smoking have on skin?
It enlarges the pores, leads to a sallow complexion and increases skin wrinkling. Smoking causes an activation of enzymes in the skin called ‘matrix metalloproteinases’ which literally gobble up our skin’s natural collagen and elastin, rapidly accelerating skin ageing. Studies have shown that smokers have a higher prevalence of facial wrinkling than non-smokers and often look older than their age. An association between smoking and premature greying of hair has also been noted in some studies. Smoking also increases the risk of cancers of the lips and inside the mouth, and it impairs wound healing. Finally, smoking has a deleterious effect on the small blood vessels in the skin and reduces the moisture content in the top layer of the skin.

What is the ideal way to exfoliate skin and how often should we do it?
Exfoliation of the skin is best done with gentle cleansers or lotions containing AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) or retinoids (vitamin A–related active ingredients). These will leave skin feeling smooth and soft. How often you use them depends on how well you tolerate them and what other active skincare you are using.

What about water intake, how much should we drink?
What you put on your skin is far more important than what you drink. The myth that drinking plenty of water will give you perfect skin is just that – a myth. Using a nourishing moisturiser will make far more difference to the appearance of your skin than drinking water.

What are the latest products for 40-plus skin to help soften lines, reduce pore size and erase brown spots and dullness?
Scientifically proven ingredients such as vitamins A, B3 (nicotinamide), C and AHAs are still the stars in this area. They all have benefits in terms of stimulating collagen production and smoothing fine lines. They all help to deal with pigmentation, improve skin luminosity, combat dullness and reduce pore size. Vitamins B3, C and E, as well as feverfew (a flower), acai, ubiquinone, coenzyme Q10, and resveratrol act as antioxidants. Antioxidants help to combat oxidative stresses, such as ultraviolet exposure, cigarette smoke and pollution, which all contribute to inflammation and ageing on a daily basis. Antioxidants should be a crucial part of any daily skincare routine. DNA repairing enzymes in particular are showing real promise in protecting our skin from ageing, while growth factors and peptides also hold considerable promise.

What’s your best beauty tip?
Don’t smoke and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen on your face, neck and décolletage daily. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to the backs of your hands on long car trips or if you are going to be in the sun for prolonged periods. It’s never too early to consider adding skincare with scientifically-proven active ingredients (such as those mentioned above) into your daily skincare routine.

From the editors of Simply You.