Image: Wild Source Apothecary
As winter skin well and truly sets in, it’s ever more important to choose gentle, natural products over harsh commercial chemicals that can cause harm to both your skin and the environment. Beatrice Murray-Nag looks into the ingredients to avoid, as well as some of the best small-batch beauty buys for your cold-weather complexion.
Every year without fail, the onset of winter marks the start of an unrequited love story between my skin and I.
As the temperatures drop and the heating fires up, the harmonious rapport we enjoyed throughout the summer begins to decline. The dry skin comes first, shortly followed by the breakouts, dermatitis and chapped lips. After an indulgent Christmas filled with food, wine and one-too-many late nights, come January our relationship is well and truly on the rocks.
Yet just as any devoted partner should, I do everything in my power to try and win it back over. Creams, oils, serums, masks; you name it, I’ve used it. For winters past, I’ve tried to understand how to best love my seasonal skin by pampering it with products and doting on its every whimsical need, often to very little avail. Why, I asked myself, did it simply refuse to love me back? And why was it that the more I invested in it, the worse things seemed become?
Image: Guy Morgan
In my case, our fate was not written in the stars but in the science. According to The New York Times, the chemicals found in many commercial beauty buys can break down our skin’s natural barrier – the acid mantle. So, while we think we are loading it up with ultra-rich, hydrating ingredients, they may be reducing its long-term capacity to retain moisture and increasing our dependency on a whole wealth of products. Chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulfate (commonly found in foaming face wash) as well as alcohol and parabens are some of the worst offenders, but are often present in many of our beauty cupboard favourites. “These toxic chemicals can cause a host of problems for our body and contaminate our waterways and soil, which can harm fish and wildlife,’ explains Kate, the founder of small-batch natural beauty brand Wild Source Apothecary.
So, by pampering our skin in the name of self-care, are we actually doing more harm than good? It’s about reading the signs – or even better, the ingredients list. Getting back to nature is key to restoring the balance, and by swapping harsh artificial chemicals for natural, non-comedogenic moisturising heroes like jojoba oil and shea butter you can help to support your skin without exposing both yourself and the planet to potentially harmful ingredients.
The secret to bringing out the best in my winter skin has been finding a select few natural, ethically made products. Here are some of the best out there, sure to provide the nourishment you need to rekindle that rocky relationship during the colder months.
Guy Morgan, Flower of the 5 Wounds Sensitive Facial Balm
No stranger to the power of plants, Guy Morgan’s interest in natural skincare was piqued by his mother who worked as a botanist. His unisex beauty line uses certified organic ingredients in order to protect the soil and minimise environmental impact. A nourishing blend to calm and hydrate, the Flower of the 5 Wounds Sensitive Facial Balm features a base of gentle passionflower seed oil, known for being high in vitamin C and essential fatty acids to boost radiance.
Wild Source Apothecary, Cleansing Oil
Wild Source Apothecary skincare is hand-blended in Bristol from whole plant infusions, botanical extracts and unrefined oils, waxes and butters. The ingredients are organic or ethically wild-harvested, and the packaging is made from recycled glass. Created with baobab, calendula and sweet orange, this gentle cleansing oil leaves skin soft, smooth and free from make up, all without any post-cleanse dryness. The warming scent is an added bonus for the senses.
By Sarah, Natural Green Clay Cleansing Balm
Even for those looking for a deep cleanse, there’s no need to strip your skin with drying chemicals. By Sarah London is known for its natural and organic plant-powered skincare, containing only the essential ingredients to perform their best possible function. The Green Clay Cleansing balm is blended from organic apricot oil, organic virgin coconut oil, French green clay and organic beeswax for a thorough yet innately nourishing cleanse.
Bashō, Organic Balancing Face Oil
Bashō’s products have two simple incentives: to protect our skin from harsh environments, and to protect our precious environment from pollution and waste. The Organic Balancing Face Oil gently hydrates and revives dull winter complexions, containing Salicylic and oleic acids target problem skin without over-drying it.
Romilly Wilde, Active Boost Face Oil
Prioritising natural super ingredients over harsh chemicals, Romilly Wilde have harnessed the power of nature at its finest in their skincare range. A perfect pick-me-up for cold weather complexions, the Active Boost Face Oil blends rosehip, seabuckthorn and prickly pear oils with micro-algae to help plump up mature skin. The brand’s website features profiles of each ingredient in its products, as well as a comprehensive list of nasties to look out for in other beauty buys.
Irene Forte Skincare, Pistachio Face Mask
One for when your skin is in need of a little extra love, the Pistachio Face Mask by Irene Forte Skincare harnesses the power of the Mediterranean to give you a radiance boost. All ingredients are grown on the organic farm at Rocco Forte Hotels’ Verdura resort in Sicily, and you can almost feel the warm Italian sunshine on your skin when you use them. Containing olive, pistachio and pumpkin seed oils, it helps to replenish the natural moisture barrier and protect it from drying weather conditions.
Organic Savannah – Baobab Lip and Body Balm
An all-natural blend of rich butters and oils, oil from the African Baobab tree is the star ingredient in Organic Savannah’s Lip and Body Balm. As well as protecting your lips from chapping in the cold winter weather, your Organic Savannah purchase will also support the social enterprise with 100% of profits going to the local community in order to sustainably drive impact.
Liha, Gold Shea Butter
Liha’s beauty philosophy is rooted in Yoruba culture and the power of Asé (the capacity to produce change). Based on a philosophy of wellness, slow-living and self-care, the brand brings together the rich botanical life of West Africa with traditional English aromatherapy and folk remedies. Traditionally used as a ‘cure all’ balm, its 100% ethically sourced Ghanaian and Nigerian Golden Shea butter is the ultimate healer for dry and flaky winter skin.
Botanyblend, Sunbird Organic Body Oil
Created by hand on the Devon coast from sustainably sourced, organic ingredients, the name of Botanyblend’s Sunbird body oil alone is enough to uplift your winter spirt. Mediterranean citrus meets African citrus for a scent designed to evoke fresh summer mornings, and bring back more than just the memory of glowing summer skin.
Neal’s Yard Remedies, Geranium and Orange Bath Oil
The Geranium and Orange Bath Oil by Neal’s Yard Remedies is the perfect choice for a quiet winter night in. An uplifting summer scent creates a sense of true wellbeing, while organic soya, wheatgerm and apricot oils work to soften and hydrate the skin. Founded on principles of inner and outer beauty, Neal’s Yard uses only natural, ethically sourced ingredients and craft its products in Dorset. The beautiful blue glass bottles make excellent decorations when upcycled too.
Is the cold getting to you? Read Claire de Boursac’s guide to tuning in to the winter season.
Discover our guide to the best natural serums and facial oils for the changing seasons.
See our tips on how to care for your hair during winter.