The cold, dry winter brings out the worst in skin leaving it dry, flaky, irritated, and more sensitive and wrinkled. However, there is lot you can do to combat the ravages of winter on skin in any season.
Moisturize with Humectants and Occlusives
Plump up and hydrate the skin with fatty acids and humectants. Humectants help the skin attract and retain water. They will pull in moisture from the air and help your skin to stay hydrated. Occlusives keep water sealed inside, but to also keep harmful particles sealed out. They are oily, waxy or silicone-based ingredients.
If you are in a moist climate, humectants will pull water out of the air to hydrate the skin. However if you are in a dry climate. humectants can cause your skin to become dehydrated by pulling moisture out of the skin. Therefore, it is best to combine humectant ingredients with occlusives.
- Humectants: Almond, avocado, sesame, olive oil and wheat germ oils are humectants that reduce water loss. Humectants that draw water into and plum up the skin are Hyaluronic acid, honey, and vegetal glycerin. Moisturizers containing humectants consistently showed statistically significant improvements in skin dryness.
- Occlusives are beeswax, olive, argan, jojoba and safflower oils and shea butter. They are all beneficial ingredients that help soothe dry and irritated skin. Skin barrier products containing occlusives reduced the occurrence of skin injuries in studies of older people.
Along with a multivitamin with antioxidant vitamins A, C and E and minerals such as selenium, zinc, and copper, try some of the products that have studies behind them such as:
- Hyaluronic Acid (HA) –In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study it was found that ingested HA increased skin moisture and improved treatment outcomes for patients with dry skin. It increased synthesis of hyaluronic acid and promoted new fibroblast growth that is part of connective tissue in skin that enables regeneration and repair. In another study, after 12 weeks using hyaluronic acid, skin condition was significantly improved in terms of wrinkle assessment, water content, trans epidermal water loss, and elasticity.
- Collagen Peptides Oral nutrition supplements containing collagen peptides may reduce skin vulnerability in older adults and thus prevent conditions such as skin tears.
- Fatty Acids –The symptoms of fatty acid deficiency include dryness of the epidermis, peeling, flabby skin, skin inflammation, an increased susceptibility to irritation and slower healing. Essential Fatty Acids are anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic and exert protective effects.
- GLA (gamma-Linolenic acid) applied topically as a cream penetrates to the outer layer of the skin, while taken orally, it reaches the inner layers of the dermis, and prevented excessive trans epidermal water loss
- LA ( linoleic acid) intake is associated with a lower likelihood of senile dryness and skin atrophy.
Eat Polyphenol Rich Foods
Plant polyphenols improve skin function by hydrating, smoothing, softening, and soothing They inhibit the enzymes—collagenase and elastase that make skin sag and wrinkle. Polyphenols accelerate the natural regeneration of the epidermis, stabilizing the capillaries, improving microcirculation and elasticity in the skin, and protecting against harmful external factors, including UV radiation.
Eat more of nature’s powerhouse polyphenol rich foods such as: spices and herbs, such as cloves, star anise, peppermint, oregano, sage, thyme, spearmint, and rosemary, as well as fruits, including berries, plums, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, grapes and apples, peaches, apricots, nectarines and pears, and seeds such as flaxseeds and soybeans, nuts and vegetables, including black and green olives, artichoke heads, red and green chicory, onions, spinach, broccoli, asparagus and lettuce
Your skin loves moisture inside and out. Heated homes tend to have dry air that can irritate and dry out skin. Use a humidifier and keep the level at 40% to add moisture back into the air. Your skin will love it.
Hot water can dry the skin and the longer you are exposed to it, the dryer it gets since hot water strips the skin of oils. Avoid long hot baths and take short tepid showers no more than 5-10 minutes. Use gentle fragrance-free cleansers since scented soaps and creams may be harsh on dry skin. Avoid using deodorant soaps, exfoliants or products with alcohol, retinoids, or alpha hydroxy acid (AHA).
Don’t Forget Sun Protection
Even though sunlight exposure decreases during the fall and winter seasons, the sun’s rays are still damaging to unprotected skin. Snow reflects up to 80% of Ultraviolet rays. Therefore, use a sunscreen to protect exposed areas to reduce the risks of sun damage, excessive dryness, and winter itch.
There is a lot more that goes into skin health such as stress, sleep, hormones, toxin exposure and nutrient deficiencies. If you suffer from dry or faster aging skin, consult with a functional medicine doctor who can look at the whole picture and provide you with a holistic, personalized approach.