Avoiding SAD And Suicide In Winter, Featuring Facial Oils

Many years of therapy, daily meditation and beauty products get me by through the winter months, and I’m telling you about them in autumn so that you have plenty of time to get prepared.
Publish date:
October 12, 2012
winter, facial oils, seasonal affective disorder

Historically, I find autumn fairly terrifying -- when the days start getting shorter, I stop wanting to get out of bed and when there’s less sunlight, my seasonal affective disorder kicks in and my circadian rhythms go all wonky. I love winter clothes, I love a bit of baroque and I think it’d be a lot easier to get out of bed in the cold if I could wear seasonal Dolce, but the reality is that I have to make a really active effort in winter to keep my head above water.

I can already start to feel myself slipping into a frightening place. I am already lying in a little later; my mind feels a little fuzzier, and I am a little quicker to get upset, just that closer to an edge that I don't want to teeter on ever again. I am also looking at what I can do that I know is good for me in winter.

Many years of therapy, daily meditation and beauty products get me by through the winter months, and I’m telling you about them in autumn so that you have plenty of time to get prepared. The beauty products that is, not the therapy. I'm unfortunately not that helpful.

A few years ago, I started getting eczema on my face as a result of a combination of stress and the changing weather. It was devastating, I felt completely repulsive, and it was happening partly as a result of being unhappy, like some sort of vicious misery cycle. Going from freezing cold outdoors to boiling hot central-heated houses is a real killer for your face. Combined with winds, the fact that cold air has less moisture than warm air, hot drinks and hot showers, your skin is about a million times more likely to get scaly when it’s cold outside.

Something that I have discovered recently and am promoting like a crazy person is Nourish’s Argan Skin Rescue. It might sound counter-intuitive to put oil on your skin, particularly if you are prone to breakouts, but oils are easier for your skin to absorb than a typical moisturizing cream or balm, so they don’t sit on your face, and they help dissolve blackheads by means of breaking down the oils clogged in your pores.

The point of moisturizing is to help bring your skin to an equilibrium because if you don’t moisturize, your skin over-produces oil in a panic. I think of it in the same way that I now think of dieting; when you starve your body of something, the second it gets a bit of oil or a bit of cake or whatever it is that it needs, it hoards it. So, dieting ends up making you fat, and stripping your skin of its oils makes you oilier in the long-term.

I apply a tiny drop of the oil to my palms, rub them together and then massage the treatment into my face right at the end of the day. The oil also helps stimulate collagen production in the skin, which plumps your face and protects against wrinkles, and the Vitamin E and neroli oil help combat scarring, if you have any existing blemishes.

I’ve also been using YSL’s Forever Youth Liberator Eye Zone Serum (£45), which is a sort of gel for the area from your eyes to your temples. I know I’m only 24, but prevention is better than cure and I get horrific dark circles, in spite of sleeping more when it is darker outside.

I’m usually very suspicious when brands that specialize in makeup and fragrance branch out into skincare, but this one is actually the best eye serum I’ve found in a long time. Again, the chemistry behind this focuses on collagen production -– it claims to stimulate glycans, which decrease with age (and are partially responsible for producing collagen), in order to plump up your epidermis. I don’t know how much it does for my glycans, but I am telling you, my circles are a lot better than they were before I started using it.

Lip Moisturiser, Malin + Goetz, $12

My lips also go to pieces during winter. I typically use a second toothbrush to exfoliate my lips of dry skin so that my lipstick applies better, but that means they end up dry, and I gnaw at them when I am anxious so they are a little bit gross even in summer.

Malin + Goetz’s Lip Moisturiser has been the answer to all of my (lip-related) problems. It isn’t sticky or heavy, which is hard to find in a lip balm -- and it has no taste and absorbs incredibly well. I’ve really done the rounds of different lip moisturisers, from Eve Lom to Kiehls (which was my go-to for years) to Clarins, but I promise you that this is the best one.

I resent spending more than a pound on a lip balm but, as substantiated by my Photoboothing for these articles, I love a good pout. And a good pout is not accentuated by peely lips. The only other product I use on my lips these days is the product that I have carried with me everywhere I go for years: Lucas’ Papaw Ointment (£5.75).

Made of fermented papaya in Australia, this works for everything. Cuticles? Check. Lips? Check. It is amazing for burns, for scars, for elbows and knees. The reason I don’t use it exclusively is that it contains petroleum, which means it doesn’t actually moisturize in the long term, but acts as a short-term solution by sealing in moisture. That means it is absolutely perfect to help a cut heal and prevent scarring (when I get a little over-zealous with home extraction).

When I’m at home in the winter months, I use Sally Hansen’s Nailgrowth Miracle Serum ($9.99) on my cuticles before I sleep. Seriously, everything gets chapped on me during winter, and if my cuticles aren’t in decent condition then I will peel them apart when anxious and end up with a bloody mess where my fingers should be. It’s gross, so I’m fairly militant around keeping them in good condition.

Rose de Vie Hydrating Mask, Dr Sebagh, $115.86 (but with free p+p and serum!)

I wouldn’t feel this review was complete without a facemask. I do love a facemask. I am going to guilty reveal my favourite for winter, although it is almost too expensive for me to justify affording on my income: Dr Sebagh’s Rose de Vie Hydrating Mask. Seriously, put it on your Christmas list if you can’t justify it as an essential.

It is rose scented, and is specifically intended to combat dehydration during winter when central heating ruins your skin. It doesn’t just rehydrate, but aims to promote and boost moisture levels from within using citraline (an amino acid derived from watermelon).

It smells amazing. Seriously, amazing, delicately rose-y and it’s really gentle to apply because it’s creamy and soothing, and it has extracts of iris too –- basically, it smells delicious, I’d trust Dr Sebagh with my life, he’s my skincare hero and it costs the same as an hour of therapy. Justification complete.

3 More Inches Pre-Wash Treatment, Michael Van Clarke, $40.59

Since I’m into my hair care these days, I’m going to finish with a hair mask. I have spent almost my entire life wishing that I had hair that could cover my breasts like a mermaid but my hair just kept dropping out of my scalp. When I found products that promised me length, I was pretty enthusiastic.

Michael Van Clarke’s 3 More Inches Pre-Wash Treatment is incredible; you apply it generously all over your hair and leave it for an hour (or overnight, I always prefer leaving things on overnight, I feel I get my money's worth) and then wash your hair as normal. It isn’t heavy, but it does leave your hair feeling nourished and glossy and healthy -- people actually notice the difference when I use it which is sort of insane as I usually assume only I can tell that sort of weird shit.

So that is how I plan to appear healthy this winter, on the off chance that I put all of this therapeutic work into practice and stave off the seemingly inevitable seasonal misery. What are your plans to keep you healthy this winter? Seriously -- what do people do in winter to deal with their lives? Do you get miserable in winter? Do you like face oil? Share with me! I'm all about the sharing.

You can find Olivia on Twitter @oliviasinger.