When the temperature drops it can play havoc with our skin, hair - and vagina. Here’s why you adding a moisturising gel to your intimate skincare routine could help protect you from vaginal dryness this Winter.
WHY DOES OUR SKIN GET DRY IN WINTER?
To understand how winter weather can lead to dry, irritated skin, we first need a mini biology lesson on skin itself. The outermost layer of your skin is called the epidermis and the thin outer surface of this is the stratum corneum - aka the skin barrier. This layer is made from a combination of dead skin cells and lipids - which are basically your skin’s natural fats.
The skin barrier’s job is to stop harmful toxins from entering the body and it needs moisture to do this effectively. When the skin barrier lacks moisture it can become damaged and that’s when you’ll notice your skin looking and feeling dry or irritated.
During the winter months, our skin is battling to retain its natural moisture, for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the change of temperature leads to a change in humidity and research has shown that there is simply less moisture in the air during Winter. Colder temperatures also lead to fewer lipids in our skin barrier - which means you end up with more dead skin cells than hydrating natural fats - a recipe for dry skin.
Our behaviours also change when Winter arrives and this can contribute to the drying out of our skin. In an effort to warm up at home, we turn the heating up to the max and enjoy long, hot baths or showers. Whilst this might make us feel cosy, research shows that it could be damaging our already vulnerable skin.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR OUR VAGINAS?
When we talk about dry winter skin, we often think about our face or other areas of our body where we immediately notice dryness. But the fact is, the habits we adopt to tackle winter weather can have an impact on our vaginal health.
Whilst your vagina might not be exposed to the elements in the same way as our face, the reduction of lipids within the skin barrier can be felt internally as well as externally. Your intimate area is also super sensitive - which means those hot baths and showers could also cause even more damage. You might also find that the style choices we make to protect ourselves from harsher weather - like wearing tights every day - could create an environment where vaginal health struggles to thrive. Tight fabrics that don’t allow our skin to breathe lock in moisture. Whilst this might sound like a good thing for keeping your skin cells hydrated, they can encourage yeast infections, which can be another cause of dryness and irritation.
Skincare and beauty experts will often recommend adjusting your skincare routine during the winter months - with a big focus on moisturising. The same advice can also be applied to your vagina! However, your vaginal health is a delicate balancing act, so you can’t simply find the thickets, oiliest moisturiser and apply it liberally. You need to consider things like the Ph balance and, most importantly, the osmolality of the products you’re choosing.
WHAT IS OSMOLALITY?
Put simply, osmolality describes whether a product has “water giving” or “water taking” properties. Let’s take another biology lesson…
The process of osmosis is the movement of water molecules across a semi-permeable membrane from an area of high water concentration to a region of low water concentration. This happens because nature loves things to be balanced! Osmosis is how plants absorb water from soil - and it’s also how our skin absorbs water from the moisturisers in our bathroom cabinet.
The thing is, that some products that claim to be hydrating aren’t necessarily optimised for osmolality. This means that whilst they might give the short term appearance of hydration, they could actually be drawing water out of the skin cells - leading to dryness down the line.
Using products with optimised osmolality is especially important for vaginal health. In the vagina, the osmolality is typically 260-290. If you use products with higher osmolality than this it will take water away from the cells in the vaginal wall rather than allowing them to absorb the moisture. This can cause vaginal dryness, which is not only uncomfortable but can lead to an increased risk of damage and infections as well as painful sex. You also don’t want anything with osmolality that is too low - as this could mean too much water is absorbed and skin cells become damaged.
HOW CAN I STOP MY VAGINA FROM DRYING OUT?
Just like the skin on the rest of your body, there are many things you can do to protect from vaginal dryness in the Winter. Watch what you eat - as sugary and processed foods can cause imbalances that lead to dryness - and also be aware of spending too much time wearing tights or taking hot baths and showers. When it comes to products, adding a moisturising gel into your vagina’s skincare routine is a great idea all year round - but especially when the weather gets colder.
You want to ensure that the products you use are not only safe for internal use but that they have been created with things like osmolality and pH levels in mind. The Vagivital AktivGel is based on our well-researched VV formula, that’s been keeping vaginas happy and healthy since 2009. Optimised osmolality is a key aspect of our formula - as is a balanced Ph - so you can ensure your vagina is getting all the hydration it needs without any irritation. Learn more about our hormone-free moisturising gel right here.