Feeling a bit itchy and scratchy? It’s hardly surprising. The twin scourges of freezing winter temperatures and central heating are sapping the moisture from the atmosphere and therefore from skin – and the fact that we’re locked up in our houses isn’t helping at all.
Those who have dry skin at the best of times are suffering most – 61 per cent agree their dryness gets so much worse in winter. So perhaps you’ve stocked up on rich body moisturisers – only to find your limbs still sport a crackle glaze look and feel.
If that’s you, it may be time to rethink the way you wash.
You see, good old soap does a brilliant job at removing dirt, sweat and unwanted oils, but it also removes the essential lipids and healthy bacteria that maintain the comfort and health of your skin.
Meanwhile, liquid soaps and body washes overwhelmingly use sulphate surfactants, which have much the same effect as soap: they strip away skin’s protective layer and leave it vulnerable to dehydration and irritation.
The terms “sodium lauryl sulphate” (SLS) and “sodium laureth sulphate” (SLES) are ones to keep a particularly beady eye on.
The solution? Choose body cleansers that use alternative, much milder, surfactants, and cleansing bars that are basically a solid version of these mild liquid cleansers. They used to be a pain to find, but today they’re everywhere.
To find them, look for terms such as “sulphate-free”, “no sls”, “soap-free” or “syndet”. It goes without saying that these ingredients will also dry out the skin on your face, so check your facial cleansers, too.
Which cleanser you choose depends on the type of texture you like. Some will create little or even no foam, but don’t let that put you off – bubbles are not a marker of how well a cleanser, well, cleanses.
All will leave you perfectly sweet-smelling and clean, but not squeaky – squeaky is not a good state for your skin to be in!
Just add warm water (but not hot water – that will strip skin as well!) and go.
Specialised facial cleansers
REN Perfect Canvas Clean Jelly Oil Cleanser
As gentle as it is deep-cleansing: the REN oil cleanser even removes waterproof makeup, pollution and SPF, all without stripping
This cleanser also stars in this month’s OK! Beauty Edit Box, which is filled with a collection of green and vegan beauty treats by top brands, worth £50. You can buy the taster box – with no sign-up needed – for just £16 in our 20% off flash sale, on until Sunday. Or, if you subscribe, you can get it from £13*.
Get your clean, green OK! Beauty Edit Box here – from just £13*
Gallinee Prebiotic Foaming Facial Cleanser, £15 here
Helps support skin’s good bacteria while gently removing every last trace of makeup and filth.
Foamy body cleansers
Eucerin Eurearepair Plus Urea Shower Foam, £11 here
Gentle surfactants plus deeply hydrating and smoothing natural moisturising factors in a creamy cleansing mousse.
Soapsmith Hand & Body Wash, £16 here
This cool body brand does gentle washes in seven flavours named after areas of London, all looking as good as they feel and smell.
Nourishing body cleansers
Avène XeraCalm A.D. Lipid-Replenishing Cleansing Oil, £16.50 here
Calming, repairing omega oils and ceramides with a gentle, non-foaming cleansing agent hidden inside.
Aromatherapy Associates Shower Oil Rich Oil-To-Milk Body Cleanser, £26 here
In four heavenly aromatherapy scents, these feel like body oils but turn into a mildly sudsy cleansing milk that rinses clean off.
Solid body cleansers
CeraVe Hydrating Cleansing Bar, £4.60 here
A soap that isn’t a soap; it cleanses while reinforcing, rather than dissolving, your protective lipid barrier and employs a host of ceramides.
No Secrets Solo All In One Hair Hand & Body Bar, £7.50 here
Infused with aromatherapy blends, these little bars (there are four) purify every bit of you without the drying drawbacks
Ingeborg van Lotringen is the author of Great Skin: Secrets The Beauty Industry Don’t Tell You, £9.67 here at Amazon.
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