It’s that time of year again when all is merry and bright except for…. your skin! Cold weather wrecks havoc on the skin mainly, due to water loss from the epidermis (outer most layer). Wintertime poses a special challenge because humidity is low both indoors and outdoors. Our skin is hygroscopic which means it has the ability to absorb moisture from the air (think moist, tropical climate) or, have the moisture pulled out of it (think dry, desert climate). As seasonal changes occur, it is important to know how to combat the environmental effects this has on the skin. The most common skin concern that we experience during colder months is winter xerosis, also known as winter itch. Listed below are some quick and easy winter skin care tips that will help to stave off the dry skin blues.
1. Hydrate your air-dry air is one of the biggest contributing factors to dull winter skin. Keep your skin hydrated by humidifying the air around you in both your home, and office. Skin is happiest at 60 percent or above humidity and that level should be sufficient to replenish moisture to the top layer of the epidermis.
2. Banish the bath-think twice before soaking in a hot bath to take your mind off of the chilly weather. Hot water and surfactants from bubble bath strip away your natural moisturizing factors and can lead to dry, scaly skin. Try limiting yourself to one 5-10 minute shower per day using lukewarm instead of hot water.
3. Minimize the use of alkaline soaps-opt instead for moisturizing body washes, creamy cleansers, or oatmeal-based soap. Reduce the risk of abrading the skin and causing fissures (small, microscopic tears in the skin) by avoiding bath sponges, loofahs, and washcloths.
4. Moisturize, moisturize, MOISTURIZE- apply moisturizers immediately after bathing or washing your face/hands. As we learned remedial science class, oil and water don’t mix! When you apply an oil-based moisturizer to the skin while it is still damp, you trap the water into the tissue preventing evaporation and increasing hydration. Plump, hydrated cells equal happy cells!
5. Get on the “actives train”- using active, efficacious ingredients during the warmer months poses a challenge because of increased sun sensitivity that’s associated with using sophisticated topicals. Winter months are the ideal time to turn up the volume on your beauty regimen. Consider transitioning into using products that have corrective benefits such as vitamin A, ellagic acid, or salicylic acid if your skin is prone to breakouts.
6. Boost your ingredients- pay close attention to the amount of antioxidants in your skincare products to help boost production of collagen and elastin (the “youth” proteins in the skin). Look for products that contain Vitamin C, green tea, peptides, alpha lipoic acid, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), and hyaluronic acid. Antioxidants bathe both in inner, and outer portions of the cells and help to increase the skin’s repair rate and encourage circulation.
7. Feed your skin-diet has a HUGE impact on the skin. We are what eat! Consuming foods that are high in Omega 3’s and other heart healthy oils can help to lubricate the skin from the inside out. Eating foods that have a high ORAC value (oxygen-radical-absorbency-capacity) help to neutralize the free radicals that degrade connective tissue (collagen, elastin). When possible consume leafy greens, berries, spinach, cruciferous vegetables, nuts and seeds in their raw form to maximize nutrient absorption.
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