Cold weather, low humidity levels and wind are factors that can really dry out and damage your skin, especially when central heaters are used at home. How can one alleviate dryness and help skin stay moist and healthy through the coldest months of the year?
Find an “ointment” moisturizer that is oil-based, rather than water-based. The oil will create a protective layer on the skin that retains more moisture than a cream or lotion. When choosing a moisturizer, it is best to opt for natural organic skincare products or nourish skin with pure oils, such as almond, avocado, coconut or jojoba oil. You can also look for lotions containing humectants, a class of substances that attract moisture to your skin, such as glycerine.
Always read the ingredient label; preservatives and fragrances can dry and irritate sensitive skin. Preservatives that seem to cause problems for many people include propylene glycol, quaternium-15 and imidazolidinyl urea.
In addition, stop using deodorant bars, antibacterial soaps, perfumed soaps and skin care products containing alcohol, like hand sanitizers. They can strip oils from the skin.
Protect your skin when going outside
It is important to protect your skin even on a cloudy or snowy day. Snow is an even better reflector than water! Use a natural sunscreen and lip balm (lips don’t have oil glands, and they can dry out easily, causing chapped lips) and wear a scarf and gloves to help prevent chapped lips and hands.
Avoid superhot showers or baths
Hot water removes the skin’s natural oils more quickly than warm or cold water. This is why showers should be limited to five minutes, using warm water rather than hot. A lukewarm bath with oatmeal or baking soda can help relieve skin that is so dry that it has become itchy. After washing, moisturizing skin immediately with oil helps trap water in the skin.
Drink more water or herbal tea to prevent dehydration
The skin is often the outer reflection of the inner being. To keep the body hydrated, drinking water is paramount. Alcohol, caffeine and all kinds of diuretics should be avoided. Drinking herbal tea and eating fluid-rich foods, such as fruit, vegetables and soup, can also help.
Eat foods rich in omega-3s and vitamin D
Essential fatty acids (omega-3s and omega-6s) are most important. These healthy fats help retain natural oils in your cells and keep skin well hydrated. Omega-3 can be found in cold-water fish as well as in poly-unsatured and unrefined vegetable oils such as flax oil.
Because of unsafe levels of mercury and toxicity in some kinds of fish (especially the big ones such as salmon), it is advisable to supplement diet with good vegetable oils or seeds instead (like chia or hemp seeds).
Also, one study by the Johnson & Johnson Skin Research Center found a link between low vitamin D levels and drier skin. Individuals with lower levels of vitamin D had lower average skin moisture. The skin consists of a special layer designed to convert ultraviolet B radiation from the sun into vitamin D; a lack of sun in the winter can have a substantial impact on the dryness of your skin.
Few foods contain significant amounts of vitamin D naturally. The best sources are wild-caught salmon and mackerel. Indeed, it may be worth supplementing your diet with vitamin D in the winter.
Don’t overheat your home and office
Central heating systems and space heaters draw moisture out of the air and out of your skin. It is recommended to keep indoor temperature below 72° F. Using a humidifier is a good option, especially in the bedroom, to keep skin well hydrated while sleeping.
These skincare tips should help with dry skin. However, some cases of dry skin should be seen by a doctor, especially if symptoms get worse. There are internal factors that can cause dry skin, including overall health, genetics and medical conditions like asthma, allergies, dermatitis, eczema or psoriasis.
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