Melanie Grant has become one of the world’s most sought-after skincare therapists and facialists. She opened her first studio in Sydney in 2012, then one in Melbourne in 2016, before going global. She now has studios in LA, Paris and London. Over a career that has spanned more than two decades, she’s gained big-name fans and clients – including the likes of Cate Blanchett, Kim Kardashian, Victoria Beckham, Lara Worthington and Nicole Warne. And, in 2016, she became Chanel Australia’s first official skin expert, then Chanel US’s in 2019.
The dermal therapist’s just brought out her first book, The Modern Guide to Skin Health, which is a guide to her skincare philosophy. Grant’s career is built on the thinking that if you eat the right foods, be strategic with which skincare products you use – opting for those that are tailored specifically to your age and lifestyle (rather than using everything) – you’ll be rewarded with good, glowing skin. She says winter time is rough on skin, and is a time when you might need to adjust your regime.
“During the colder months, our skin has to work even harder to combat the damaging effects of harsh weather, central heating and the shock factor of navigating the two,” Grant tells Broadsheet. “Aside from an increase in dryness, many of us also experience redness, sensitivity, irritation and a compromised [skin] barrier function during this time.”
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A well-functioning skin barrier (the epidermis and its outer surface, the stratum corneum) is essential for good skin. That barrier is compromised by heating, which reduces humidity and affects how much moisture is available to the skin, while winter delights, such as hot showers and baths, can also damage the surface of the skin. People with eczema and psoriasis may have flare-ups, and others who don’t normally encounter dry skin can find their skin gets flaky, red and sore.
Here, Grant answers our questions and offers her tips and tricks for getting you through winter.
Should people be increasing the amount of moisturiser they use, or looking for a different type of moisturiser to use in winter?
If the formula you’re using isn’t right, using more of it won’t help. During winter, I often recommend swapping out lighter water-based creams for something a little more occlusive, rich in nourishing omega fatty acids, to create a protective barrier over the skin and prevent moisture loss.
If you have a lighter cream that you really love and don’t want to swap, another great option is to incorporate a facial oil. These can be layered under or over your cream for added moisture, or a few drops [can be] mixed directly into your cream in the palm of your hand before applying, to boost its lipid content.
Any products we should introduce in winter?
Aside from a good facial oil, having a gentle exfoliating lotion on hand to use in the evenings a couple of times a week will help keep dry skin at bay and the pores clear of build-up and dead skin cells. Gentle and consistent exfoliation is really important during winter, not only to break down cellular debris, but to ensure our hydrators and creams are penetrating effectively, when we most need them to.
In terms of skincare, including ingredients like squalane, hyaluronic acid, ceramides and peptides will keep the skin quenched, hydrated and plump. Niacinamide, [which is a form of vitamin B3], is a great option to reduce inflammation, keep the skin bright and the barrier strong – it’s also really helpful in treating redness and even eczema and dermatitis.
Vitamins B, C and E are also essential. They help promote a strong, healthy and resilient skin and shield against environmental aggressors that can wreak havoc on the skin. I like to look for these in serum form as they’re super concentrated with tiny molecules, so will penetrate the furthest and deliver the most significant results, the fastest.
What about diet?
Incorporating more healthy fats helps offset winter dryness. I like activated nuts and seeds, wild-caught fish, avocados and cold-pressed olive oil best. Also, as tempting as it is on a cold day, try to avoid overly hot baths and showers. This will help with avoiding any further dryness and dehydration of the skin on the face, body and scalp.
Are there any other routines we should introduce?
I love LED light therapy for its ability to promote collagen and hydration and reduce inflammation. It’s really effective at combating the redness and reactivity many of us experience as the temperature dips. You can book in for a course of these with your facialist to boost your complexion, or there are some really great at-home devices available nowadays, too.
Hydrating cream masks are another way to feed the skin during winter without much effort. I often like to apply a mask and let it activate while catching up on emails, and then tissue off the excess and let a fine layer continue to infuse overnight while I sleep.
It goes without saying that sun care is just as important throughout winter as it is in summer. You’d be surprised at how many common skin concerns, like laxity, fine lines and pigment, can all be prevented just by being diligent with SPF. A teaspoon-sized amount is perfect for the face, neck and décolleté as the final step in your morning regime – and top up throughout the day as needed. I like to apply any excess product to the backs of my hands – after all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Melanie Grant has just released a book, *The Modern Guide to Skin Health, out now through Pan MacMillan, $39.99. Buy it here.*
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