Winter brings colder temperatures, stronger winds, and less moisture in the air. All these factors can make skin irritated, dry, chapped, and red. But, with a few proactive measures, you can enjoy great skin throughout the entire winter. Here are five quick tips to make your skin looks its winter best.
Moisturizing is your best weapon against dryness, but it’s not just an outside job, think about moisturizing from the inside, too. Externally, you should apply a high-quality, natural skin cream or moisturizer. Use naturally moisturizing ingredients like manuka honey, oatmeal, coconut oil or aloe vera. And, internally, focus on your diet. Make sure that you are eating enough healthy oils and fatty acids. Some great moisturizing food ingredients to include in your winter diet should consist of: avocados, cheese, dark chocolate, whole eggs, fatty fish, nuts and chia seeds. Always cook with extra virgin olive oil or splash a little on your salads (with some balsamic vinegar).
2. Exercise = Healthy Skin
Movement promotes circulation and circulation promotes healthy skin. So, any activity is a great way to ensure healthy skin! Exercise increases blood flow which nourishes skin cells and keeps them vital. So, keep your body moving thru the winter if you want to optimize great skin.
If you are exercising outside, make sure to cover up exposed skin to protect it from fierce winds (which strip moisture from the skin) and bitter cold (which tightens the pores and cuticles restricting circulation). Lastly, make sure that you rehydrate after exercise. For each pound of water weight you lose, drink 20 ounces of fluid. Maintaining water levels is key to combatting winter dryness.
3. Add Humidity
A recent study in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology found that a decrease in humidity by 30 percent can lead to the formation of fine wrinkles in as little as 30 minutes. Furthermore, low humidity can cause decreased skin elasticity, increased skin roughness and may worsen some skin disorders.
Because skin is comprised of approximately 70% water, water plays a critical role in maintaining our skin’s flexibility, elasticity, and overall health. When you are exposed to low humidity over a prolonged length of time, the moisture on and within the skin literally evaporates into the air. Eczema sufferers know this all too well.
The other factor that compounds winter humidity loss is the use of heat. When the heat is turned on in your home or office, the air becomes less dense (heat expands). And when the air is less dense, it’s unable to hold as much water, so the humidity drops.
The simple solution is to use a compact humidifier which will monitor the moisture vapor in the air and release water when it drops below a specified amount. You’ll also keep your nose and throat better moisturized which will reduce the chances of colds and flu!
4. Choose Smart Clothing
Because winter skin tends to be more sensitive, always consider the type of clothing you are wearing. While synthetic fabrics are trendy, they typically don’t allow your skin to breathe. This is particularly important for those with psoriasis and eczema. Instead, try using natural fiber clothing made of cotton or silk. These materials feel smooth on the skin and can wick moisture away when sweating. And if you find yourself in sweaty clothes, make sure to change out of them as quickly as possible.
Also, just because fiber is natural doesn’t mean it is a good fit for winter skin. Wool may be too coarse and irritating depending on the type and how it was processed. Fine, lightweight wool like cashmere is often a good choice.
5. Maximize Clean-Up Time
If you don’t have a skin condition, showers are the way to go. Showers expose the body to less water than a bath. Too much water can strip the skin of natural oils which can cause the skin’s surface to break down. However, bathing can be an effective way to get essential oil ingredients into the skin like olive, lavender or coconut. But no matter your method of cleaning-up, the most important thing to remember is to moisturize within 30 minutes after your bath or shower. During that short window, your skin absorbs more water and moisturizer than any other time. Take advantage of that opportunity!
Armed with these five good strategies, you’ll be sure to have glowing skin throughout winter and all its holidays!
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About the Author
Olivia Hsu Friedman, LAc, Dipl.OM, DACM, Cert. TCMDerm, is the owner of Amethyst Holistic Skin Solutions and treats Acne, Eczema, Psoriasis, and TSW. Olivia treats patients via video conferencing using only herbal medicine. Olivia is Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Society of Acupuncturists, serves on the Advisory Board of LearnSkin, and is a faculty member of the Chicago Integrative Eczema Group sponsored by the National Eczema Association.