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Study Shows How Weather Changes Skin Texture

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Cooler temperatures are imminent for the Northern Hemisphere—is your skin ready? Recent research in the British Journal of Dermatology found that climatic factors have the potential to influence skin health, especially its moisture levels and texture. These results may influence how consumers alter their skin care from season to season.

Previous research on the topic found that seasonal occurrences, such as humidity or rapid temperature changes from outdoor-to-indoor environments, can negatively affect skin. The present research explored levels of filaggrin, which helps maintain the skin barrier, and other breakdown products during various seasons.

“... This latest study is interesting as it sheds new light on further reasons for seasonal skin changes, at a cellular level. Given that skin problems are the most common reason for people to visit their doctor, any research that improves our understanding of skin disorders and how to best manage them is always a positive step,” said Nina Goad, British Association of Dermatologists.

Methods

The study’s 80 healthy subjects comprised 40 male and 40 female volunteers, of which half were aged 18–40 years and half aged ≥ 70 years.

Researchers tape-stripped volunteers’ cheek and dorsal hand skin in both the winter and summer to analyze natural moisturizing factors (NMF) and corneocyte surface texture (Dermal Texture Index, DTI). They then observed with high magnification that skin cells suffered from shrinkage in the winter, which changed the surface texture, elevating DTI levels.

Results also showed that during winter, cheek skin samples experienced reduced NMF, with higher losses in older participants. The hand skin samples showed almost opposite results—there, NMF levels were higher in the winter than summer, with female participants experiencing higher levels overall than their male counterparts.

In short, the study suggests winter weather conditions cause facial skin to become drier and more textured than during warmer months.

Takeaways

The authors hope these findings will influence consumers and other individuals to wear season-appropriate skin care, such as emollient formulations in the winter and sun protection in the summer; although consumers should not necessarily limit their sun care to summertime-use.

“This study shows clearly that the skin barrier is affected by climatic and seasonal changes. Both children and adults suffer from red cheeks in the winter in northern latitudes and some may even develop more permanent skin conditions such as atopic eczema and rosacea,” said Jacob Thyssen, M.D., Ph.D., senior author.

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