Healthy winter skin

With the current food-as-medicine trend, experts of course recommend certain foods for helping winter-ravaged skin. My source at Mother Earth’s recommends avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds. Nutritionists tout lycopene-rich foods like tomatoes, pink grapefruit, red peppers, carrots and watermelon.

Vitamin B1, found in meat, eggs, nuts, seeds, peas and whole grains, improves circulation and therefore, skin health. Edamame contains isoflavones that can help preserve the collagen in your skin and eradicate the free radicals you may get from sun exposure. They say broccoli and spinach are good for your skin, and that’s easy to believe, but surprisingly coffee, tea and cocoa all protect your skin as well, but in different ways. So warmth and stimulation aren’t the only reasons to enjoy those hot beverages.

Another surprising way to improve the condition of your winter hide is to take shorter, lukewarm (rather than hot) showers and baths. Use a little less soap than you think you need, and if your skin is so dry it’s itchy an oatmeal bath can soothe it. Move around a lot to improve your circulation, a no-brainer maybe, as skin is far from the heart and so at the end of the circulatory trail. Humidifiers, houseplants and bowls of water around the house and office help make the air less dry indoors.

Slathering on moisturizer may seem like the first line of defense, and it’s a crucial part of winter skin care. Whether it must be applied directly after a shower or before bed or both is a subject of debate. Some skin pros recommend oil-based, ointment-type lotions like Aquaphor or oily night creams as more effective than lighter, water-based moisturizers. Others don’t like how they stain or clog pores. Non-clogging oils could include avocado oil, mineral oil, primrose oil, or almond oil. I personally like my shea-and-cocoa-butter mix, but because it can clog I don’t use it on my face.

Humectant-containing oils are said to attract moisture to skin. Sorbitol, glycerine and alpha-hydroxy acid are examples. Other moisture-conserving ingredients of moisturizers recommended by some skin care experts are dimethicone, glycerin, ceramides, lactic acid, urea, lanolin, mineral oil and petrolatum. Honey is an all-natural humectant that attracts and retains moisture while applying nutrients directly to your skin.

Sunscreen is recommended for outdoor activities, even in winter light. Gloves don’t just keep hands cozy but also keep them from drying out. I confess I tend to skip mine so that I can text and drive more easily, but when the temperature drops it’s better to use them to protect skin.

Feet can use thick sturdy creams with glycerine or petroleum jelly. Dry lips need lip balm, with a sunscreen is good. I like Blistex at night before bed. Some prefer to mix petrolatum or coconut oil with sugar as a moisture-retaining lip rub to fend off chaps.

So until spring comes, protect your skin indoors and out, by giving it what it needs from within and without your body.

One thought on “Healthy winter skin”

  1. Hi Jennifer
    I read your articles each week–as for this one about the skin, I agree with all but the last couple paragraphs. You refer to moisturizers for the skin including several ingredients that have health concerns. I use a website/organization called Environmental Working Group to check all my skin care ingredients. If you check http://www.ewg.org/skindeep, you will find that mineral oil and petrolatum have toxicity concerns (ie. organ system, cancer, developmental, reproductive, allergies). You did include some great ones–coconut oil being my favorite. You might want to check out this website as it has great information.
    Thanks for your articles and your consideration of my concern.
    Miriam Patton

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