As we move into the colder temperatures, it is common to experience noticeable differences in how your skin looks and feels. The combination of cold air outside, heated air inside and low humidity creates a perfect storm resulting in decreased moisture in the skin. Chapped lips, peeling dry and itchy skin are some of the most common concerns during this season. Dehydrated skin sets the stage for less elastin, breakdown of collagen and premature aging, and you guessed it - wrinkles! Key changes to your skin care regime can help keep your skin subtle, smooth, plump and vibrant throughout the cold winter months.
1. Use the right cleanser.
Most skin cleansers on the market today are very harsh on the skin. Cleansers used to remove makeup have ingredients in them that are often irritating to the skin and remove the natural oils on the skins surface. I often recommend removing makeup with cotton pads and coconut oil and then washing the face with a gentle, natural face wash or a natural clay based soap. Individual recommendations of products can be helpful as everyone's skin is different.
2. Wash your face with lukewarm water and apply a moisturizer within minutes of washing.
Hot water also wipes away your skin's natural oil, so wash your face with lukewarm water and apply your moisturizer within minutes of drying. Since pores are dilated and your skin is moist after washing with warm water hydration is better locked in the skin and absorbed at this time.
3. Choose the best moisturizer for your skin.
As the seasons change so should your skin care products. Moisturizers in the winter should be heavier than those used in the warmer more humid months. I often recommend oils versus water based moisturizers in the winter as many natural oils penetrate deeper into the layers of the skin making sure hydration is not just on the surface of the skin. Every oil has a different molecular structure and therefore can penetrate differently into the skin or in some cases can even block pores. Almond oil, rosehip oil, jojoba oil, and argon oil are some great winter oils that allow hydration to penetrate deep into the layers of the skin ensuring your skin feels softer longer without the need to re-moisturize repeatedly.
4. Stay hydrated with lots of water!
Dry skin is also a sign of internal dehydration. Hydration from the inside out is essential! We often neglect our water intake more in the winter since we don't feel hot and thirsty. The demand for water to keep our cells hydrated is extremely important to soft skin and wrinkle prevention. The more hydrated you are the more your skin looks plump! The recommendation is at least 7-9 glasses of water a day.
5. Increase healthy oils in your diet.
The quality and quantity of oils you get from your diet is reflected in every cell of your body. I often stress with patients that the quality of the oil is what is most important. Healthy oils such as avocado, coconut, oils from nuts and seeds and olive oil are an important part of any diet regime to help keep skin hydrated from the inside out. Your Naturopathic Doctor may recommend a fish oil supplement which is high in omega 3. Omega 3 fatty acids not only function an anti-inflammatory helping to decrease redness and any itching that could be occurring on the skin, but it also helps to improve the quality of our skin, hair and nails. A good quality fish oil ensures that you are getting the benefits of the omega 3 at the appropriate therapeutic dosage and ensures it's free of chemicals, heavy metals and impurities that are often high in fish.
6. Exfoliate regularly and moisturize immediately afterwards.
Dry skin brushing and using a gentle exfoliating face mask 1-3 times a week helps remove dry skin debris and keeps your skin smooth and more radiant. Make sure you apply a moisturizer or a hydrating oil right after to lock in the moisture. Some exfoliating masks also draw out impurities and help reduce pores and acne. Discuss exfoliating products with a Naturopathic Doctor to see what best suits your skin's needs.
7. Use a humidifier at home while you sleep.
Keeping a humidifier by your bedside helps keep the air your breathe moist and also keeps your skin hydrated throughout the night. It's important to keep your humidifier clean as to prevent any mold production. Adding an essential oil to the humidifier can help reduce the growth of mold. I have found that keeping a peace lily plant by the beside helps keep the moisture in the air.
8. Soak in alka-baths 2-3 times a week for at least 40 minutes at a time.
Alka-baths are alkaline mineral salts that are a combination of 8 finely ground precious stones that help alkalinize the skin and optimizes the self-oiling process of the skin.
9. Cold weather calls for eating warmer foods.
Cooked, warm foods not only help with digestion but these foods contain more moisture. The energetic balance of the season requires avoiding raw and cold foods. Soups, stews and cooked foods hydrate and nourish the body adding more moisture to the skin.
10. What to avoid in skin products:
Avoid moisturizers that are petroleum based or contain alcohol in them. Make sure your cleanser doesn't have ingredients such as alcohol, salicylic acid or glycolic acid. Most importantly avoid any skin care products that have parabens, thalates, triclosan and methylisothiazolinone.
Dry itchy skin can also appear very similarly to other skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis or different forms of dermatitis that often aggravate in the winter. It's important to have your skin checked by a healthcare professional to ensure the treatments you use are suited for your health. Naturopathic Doctors can help with this assessment and advise on more thorough treatment plans based on your presentation and needs.
If you try the steps above and you don't get the results you desire, ask for personalized recommendations from your ND. Naturopathic Doctor at Naturopathic Foundations focus on women's health. To discuss products or other skin care regimes please call the clinic at 905-940-2727 and book an appointment with one of our naturopathic doctors