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There isn’t usually much to be said for the short days and grey skies of January.

This year, however, we advocate taking advantage of the lack of sun and excess staying-in time by using skin actives that are adverse to strong sunlight.

‘Some ingredients and treatments suppress the development of protective pigment in your skin while others buff away the surface layer,’ says Dr David Jack, a Harley Street aesthetic doctor.

‘They are removing a layer of natural protection against the sun’s rays so during summer, when UVB levels are high, it’s preferable to avoid harsher ingredients like retinol and laser treatments that decrease pigment in skin.’

That’s not to say you get a free SPF pass during winter. ‘Levels of UVA rays are the same all year round and they penetrate deeper, decreasing the volume of fat cells in the dermis that help keep skin plump,’ says Jack.

‘It’s essential to use sunscreen, even when the weather is grey.’

From tackling last summer’s pigmentation to zapping hair before the next one, these are long-term boosters. Simply add SPF.

Vitamin A

January is the optimum month for applying vitamin A (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)

Any version of anti-ageing vitamin A can make skin sensitive.

‘Higher-strength grades have a biological effect on skin, making the outer layer thinner,’ says Dr Emma Craythorne, a cosmetic dermatologist at OneWelbeck health clinics.

‘However, milder versions in cosmetic formulas can make skin redder and more sensitive too as they remove dead surface cells, making it more vulnerable to UV damage.’

Minimum daylight means January is the optimum month for blemish-fighting vitamin A.

Choose formulas that go gently on first-timers.

Glossier Universal Pro-Retinol Nightly Renewing Complex balances revitalising ingredients with humectants that lock in soothing moisture, while Clinique Smart Night Clinical MD Multi-Dimensional Repair Treatment Retinol is packed with skin-comforting blends.

Start off gentle with a pro-retinol night formula

Complexions tolerant to vitamin A can use winter to road-test intensive options.

Try Dr Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Overnight Wrinkle Treatment, a gel that revs up the skin’s self-repair system, or StriVectin Advanced Retinol Nightly Renewal Moisturiser with a mix of retinal and retinol to enhance benefits without redness.

Reduce the appearance of wrinkles with this overnight treatment

Laser hair removal

Bondi Laser @ Home has eight strength settings for an effective result

It can take up to 12 sessions to see permanent hair removal using lasers so start now for summer.

‘Lasers target the pigment in hair, converting light into heat energy and destroying the follicle in the hair shaft, stopping growth,’ says Dr Craythorne. ‘But when skin is tanned, this energy can be absorbed into the area around the follicle as it also contains pigment, causing little brown splodges.’

Skn Clinics uses Nd YAG long-pulsed laser, which is gentle and targeted, avoiding blemishes.

DIY versions (with IPL technology) are suited to fair skin with dark hair: Bondi Laser @ Home has eight strength settings for an effective result, while Silk’n Infinity connects to an app for a customised programme.

Tackle pigmentation

Professional and DIY treatments for unevenness such as pigmentation love winter light. In clinics, intense pulsed light (IPL) releases wavelengths of light into the skin.

‘IPL works by breaking down melanin to fade discolouration,’ says Dr Jack, who uses Lummeca to treat redness (£350 each).

Sort out your skin while your relax

‘Skin is more sun-sensitive for a week afterwards as it also removes that top layer of protection while working on deeper layers, making it vulnerable to more damage.’

If you prefer at-home pigmentation, Paula’s Choice Clinical Discoloration Repair Serum (£46) champions an optimum 3% amount of tranexamic acid to fade sun damage.

Even nights watching Netflix can be spent improving the complexion if you wear the SwearBy Skin LookLit LED mask (£75), a clear visor that emits light therapy.

This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on purchases made through one of these links but this never influences our experts’ opinions. Products are tested and reviewed independently of commercial initiatives.

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