We all know when this time of year rolls around, issues around dry, itchy and flaky skin become common for many of us. Whether you skin is dry and itchy, or even flaky and barely holding on to moisture, this article will provide some support and guidance in allowing you to have beautiful skin all winter long. (Note: If you experience eczema, psoriasis or other skin issues, it is best to consult your health professional to assess your particular case.)
When it comes to skin, there are two key factors to keep in mind: moisture and hydration. Although these may seem like the same concept, when you think of moisture, think healthy fats and when you think of hydration, think water content. So in essence, to get you loving your skin again regardless of the temperature, it is important to ensure that the body is sufficiently supplied with the healthy fats and water it will need. Both moisture and hydration are best achieved by combining an internal and external approach.
An easy way to assess hydration is to simply think of how much water you drink per day. If you can’t remember the last time you had a straight glass of water, then this may be one of the main reasons your skin is feeling the way it is. Another way to gauge is by thinking of how many servings of fruits and veggies you get per day. These foods have a high water content, as do our bodies, and also provide excellent vitamin and mineral support for healthy hair skin and nails. When you do not get sufficient leafy greens and other vegetables through food, the hydration level of the body may not be optimal.
The second factor, moisture, pertains to the amount of essential fats the body gets and utilizes internally. Essential fats are not made by the body and are required through foods. The two essential fats in the body are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. With the addition of these important sources of nutrition through food, the body begins receiving the necessary foundation for promoting healthy and happy skin. Omega-3 fatty acids from foods like fish, chia and flax are important not only for skin but also support balanced immune, cardiovascular, and nervous systems.
When it comes to external solutions for your skin, these 2 factors also hold true. Products that contain a good combination of oils, butters and water go a long way in promoting healthy skin. For instance, Shea butter is a great addition for me in the maintenance of my skin all year round. Other options include cocoa butter, and avocado butter. Of course if a person has any sensitivities to nuts and seeds, caution should be applied. Oils that are commonly used to promote healthy skin include coconut oil, emu oil, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil and olive oil, among many others. These are often found in many natural products that support healthy hair and skin.
Keep in mind the following ingredients which tend to thwart effective moisturizing:
- petroleum based products (which create a barrier over the skin and prevent deep penetration of oils, butters and water into the skin),
- silicones (which feel amazing and light on the skin, but do very little else for moisture),
- Alcohols (which essentially dehydrate the skin, thereby increasing your efforts to moisturize)
So in a nutshell, here’s what you can start doing today to love your skin this winter.
- Increase your fruit and veggie intake. Allocating ½ of your plate to veggies and fruit is recommended.
- Increase water content. If you find it hard to drink water, add lemon juice to it or drink simple non- caffeinated herbal teas. Caffeine has a diuretic effect, causing the body to increase water elimination through the kidneys.
- Invest in a good body butter; or better yet, make your own! (See below for my simple 3 ingredient recipe)
- Exfoliate dead skin 1-2x/week for better penetration of product and health of skin
- Eat more fatty fish (eg salmon WITH the skin, or sardines), chia, flax, avocados or olive oil.
My simple 3 ingredient body butter:
- Equal parts
- Shea butter
- Coconut oil
- Optional- essential oils for fragrance. I usually whip mine so it’s easier to apply.
Have fun making your skin happy this winter.
Dr. Melvia, NDContact Me