Winter weather can wreak havoc on our skin and as a natural health and wellness consultant, I’ve been hearing many people complain about dry skin lately so I thought I’d share some of my favourite winter skin care tips.
It so important not to just care for our skin from the outside, but did you know that we can also nourish our skin from the inside-out! This time of year can be especially harsh on the skin, causing painful chapping and cracking. Luckily, there’s a lot we can do to avoid all that…and this is how!
– Moisturize From The Inside Out –
The skin is made from the proteins elastin, collagen and keratin. When these proteins are damaged due to prolonged sun exposure, cold winds or oxidative stress, the result can be fine lines, brown discolourations, enlarged pores, and sagging skin. Dry skin can result from both a lack of oil and moisture. Chapping and cracking are signs of extremely dry, dehydrated skin.
Dry skin can be caused or aggravated by a poor diet, and environmental factors such as exposure to sun, wind, cold temperatures, chemicals, cosmetics, or harsh soaps. Nutritional deficiencies can also contribute to the problem. If the skin or dry or chapped, increase water intake and consumption of essential fatty acids.
Dehydrated skin will accentuate fine lines and wrinkles. Keep well hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Ditch chemical-laden drinks like soda, alcohol, and sugary drinks. Sugar can accelerate aging through a process called glycation. Instead, try sipping on antioxidant-rich herbal teas, lemon water, fresh vegetable juices, soups, and eating fresh fruit.
The Skin Loves Healthy Fats!
A lack of essential fatty acids will be reflected in the skin and hair. Omega–3 essential fatty acids help maintain cell membranes, allowing water and nutrients in, but keeping toxins out. These healthy fats also reduce inflammation throughout the body, which can result in fewer skin breakouts, and an overall more even skin tone.
Consuming foods high in omega-3 fats help keep the skin supple and soft, and increases elasticity, which minimizes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Signs of Omega-3 Deficiency: Rough dry skin, dry brittle hair, scaly skin, eczema, psoriasis
Foods high in Omega-3: Flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, pecans, avocados, wheatgrass, seaweed, nori, spirulina, wild caught, cold water fish, fish oil
Fill up on Fiber For Radiant Skin
A lack of dietary fiber in the diet can lead to sluggish bowels and constipation, which will have a direct effect on the appearance of your skin. When bowel movements are less than once a day, toxins and waste, which should ideally be excreted everyday, will be recirculated back into the bloodstream. Constipation can not only lead to dry, rough skin and acne, but other serious health problems of the gastro-intestinal system. The soluble fibre in found apples, flax seeds, oat bran, fruits and vegetables acts as a cleanser and eliminates toxins from the body.
Fibre also helps to improve circulation, keeps the blood thin, and improves the supply of oxygen and nutrients to skin cells, thus improving your skin’s appearance from the inside out. A high-fiber diet with plenty of fluids will ensure skin that is soft, well-hydrated and flawless!
• Eat at least 2 cups of dark leafy greens a day
• Consume high fiber fruits with the skin such as apples, pears and berries
• Include a variety of whole grains in your diet
• Eat a variety of beans, legumes and lentils
Zinc is necessary for tissue and cell formation, required for collagen production and regulates the activity of oil glands. Using zinc topically and taking it orally has shown some potential in preventing and alleviating the inflammation and scarring associated with acne and wind burn and can help to heal wounds, scars and overly dry skin.
Signs of Deficiency: white spots on the fingernails, thin fingernails that peel, acne, skin lesions, frequent infections, slow healing cuts or wounds, loss of taste or smell, premature hair loss, dry skin
Food Sources of Zinc Include: kelp, legumes, lima beans, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, whole grains, alfalfa, cayenne, parsley, sage, chamomile, chickweed, dandelion, fennel seed, milk thistle, wild yam, eggs, fish, oysters, liver
Factors that Impair Zinc Absorption: Do not take supplemental oral zinc with foods which interfere with absorption such as: bran, coffee, phytates, phosphorus, calcium, iron and medications that inhibit stomach acid. Zinc levels are lowered by diarrhea, kidney disease, cirrhosis of the liver and diabetes. Significant amounts of zinc are lost through perspiration.
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a naturally occurring substance present throughout the human body and is distributed widely throughout connective, epithelial, and neural tissues. Its function in the body is, among other things, to bind water and lubricate the joints and muscles. Because of its ability to hold water, it also hydrates and plumps the skin and is added to many anti-aging skin formulations and moisturizers. Because HA is one of the most hydrophilic (water-loving) molecules in nature with numerous benefits for the human body, it has often been described as “nature’s moisturizer”. Pure hyaluronic acid can be purchased for topical use (I like adding a few drops to my avocado oil and zinc moisturizer). It can also be taken internally as a supplement.
Hyaluronic acid is only present in a limited number of foods, but not many. Root vegetables, fruit, beans and legumes contain the nutrients needed to stimulate the production of HA. Incorporating the following foods into the diet can encourage the body to make additional hyaluronic acid.
Food That Stimulate The Production of Hyaluronic Acid: Purple potatoes, beets, daikon, radishes, turnips, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, celery root, beans, tempeh, apples, bananas, lemons, melons, carrots, berries, kale, spinach
* The best way to cook starchy root vegetables is to steam them, which not only preserves the nutrient value but lessens the formation of acrylamide and advanced glycation end products (AGEs)
Grilling, deep frying and baking result in the production of acrylamide, one of the hundreds of chemicals known as Maillard reaction products (MRPs), which form when foods are heated at high temperatures. Studies have shown that acrylamide is a cancer-causing and potentially neurotoxic chemical
Acrylamide is known to form adducts to DNA, potentially leading to DNA mutations, contribute to oxidative stress and increase the signs of aging. Potato chips, french fries, burnt toast and baked, grilled or roasted carbohydrate foods contain the highest levels of acrylamide. These levels increase the more cooked and burnt the food is.
– Moisturize From The Outside –
Avoid Abrasive or Drying Facial Cleansers
Most facial cleansers on the market contain alcohol, as well as other harmful preservatives and chemicals, which can be very drying and damaging to the skin. Try exfoliating with granulated sugar and honey, or coffee grounds. Exfoliate your skin twice a week to increase cell turnover.
Using natural, cold pressed plant-based oils help protect and hold moisture in the skin without clogging the pores. Natural oils are high in antioxidants, protect the skin from free radical damage, and can heal dry and chapped skin that can result from cold winter winds.
Plant based oils also draw impurities out of the skin by unclogging pores. People with oily skin might have reservations about applying oil to the face, but oils can actually help balance the production of sebum, while balancing out the natural pH of the skin.
Oils are lipophilic (fat loving), and they pass though the lipid layer of the skin faster, preventing water loss and plumping skin with moisture more effectively. Natural oils are extremely nourishing and moisturizing for the skin. Experiment and find which oils work best for you! The oils listed below will not clog pores, or cause the skin to be oily.
Castor Oil: Extremely moisturizing for severely dry skin. This is thicker oil and takes a bit more time to absorb so it’s best to apply it at night about an hour before bed. Castor Oil is very anti-inflammatory and penetrates deep into the skin which helps to soften, hydrate and plump the skin, minimizing the appearance of wrinkles. It is also great for healing cracked, chapped skin.
Jojoba Oil: Great oil to use for hair and oily skin. Helps lighten and heal scars and reduce wrinkles and stretch marks. Creates a protective film over the skin and hair shaft to seal in moisture. Dissolves clogged pores and returns skin to a natural pH balance.
Olive Oil: High in vitamins A and E. Great to use an evening moisturizer.
*Personal note: For years, I’ve been using olive oil to remove eye make-up. It leaves the skin around the eyes nourished and moisturized. It even works for water-proof mascara.
Argan Oil: High in vitamin E and fatty acids. Helps with dry skin, acne, psoriasis and eczema. Treats split ends and tames dry, frizzy hair. Use as an all over body moisturizer, including the face and neck.
Rosehip Oil: Absorbs easily. Contains vitamin C, A and lycopene which repairs the skin’s surface, restores elasticity and protects against sun and wind. Reduces the appearance of scars, age spots and hyper-pigmentation.
Avocado Oil: Extremely moisturizing and rich in vitamins and fatty acids. Keeps the skin moist and smooth. Contains high concentrations of Vitamins A and E. Soothes sensitive skin and especially useful for dry, scaly skin and scalps.
Sweet Almond Oil: Great for all skin types. Alleviates dry skin, soothes inflammation and relieves itching caused by eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis.
Goji Berry Seed Oil: Contain a high amount of vitamin C, which is known to support the production of collagen, to speed wound healing, and to protect the skin from free radical damage. It’s also been shown to help fade sun and age spots.
Tamanu Oil: Promotes the formation of new tissue, thereby accelerating wound healing and the growth of healthy skin. Relieves and protects the skin against inflammation and redness. Moisturizes, nourishes and repairs the epidermal cells of dry and damaged skin.
Sea Buckthorn Oil: Great for irritated or inflamed skin. Contains omega 3, 6, 9 and 7, which helps reduce redness, burning and itching while vitamin E helps heal skin quickly and reduce scarring. Helps maintain the skin’s elasticity and smoothness.
Coconut Oil: Great moisturizer for irritated or inflamed skin. Not the best choice to use on the face if one is prone to clogged pores or acne. Helps relieve dandruff and eczema due to its anti-fungal and antibacterial properties.
Hemp Seed Oil: Anti-inflammatory, reduces redness. Easily absorbed by the skin. For very dry skin, it should be mixed with a thicker oils as hemp oil absorbs quickly and is known as a “dry” oil.
Natural Skin Care Recipes
Castor Oil Face Wash
Helps to deep clean pores and remove blackheads without stripping the skin of moisture! To wash your face with castor oil before bed, dampen a face cloth, add a quarter sized drop of castor oil to the cloth, cleanse the face in small circular motions, and rinse. Blot dry and apply a natural moisturizer to the face and neck.
Sugar and Honey Exfoliator
Combine 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon honey, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and mix well. If the mixture is a too runny, add a bit more sugar.
Combine 1 tablespoon of ground coffee with 1 tablespoon of water or olive oil.
To make this exfoliating face scrub more economical, use the wet coffee grounds from your brewed morning coffee.
This might seem obvious, but when you are heading outdoors, keep your face and body covered with proper winter clothing. Always wear gloves and a scarf, and keep your face covered in cold and windy weather.
Humidify Your Home
Indoor heating is especially drying to the skin, as well as the nasal passages. If the air inside your home is dry, use a humidifier to help keep moisture in the air.
If you do not have a humidifier, keep a pan of water in each room, which will help prevent the skin from drying out.
Dry Skin Brushing
Dry skin brushing is a unique skincare method, which uses a natural bristle body brush to exfoliate the skin. Dry skin brushing on a daily basis provides numerous benefits such as improved circulation and new cell renewal. It helps shed dead skin cells, resulting in smoother, brighter skin. Dry skin brushing also stimulates the lymphatic drainage, which helps to eliminate toxins from the body.