Wellness Tips for Winter Skin Care – from the Inside Out

drink-water-yoga-break.jpgWhat Season is this?
From the looks of the sunny weather in the SF bay area last week, you’d never think it was winter. But when I shed my sweater and bared my arms, all I had to do was pay close attention to my skin to know: 1) it is indeed winter; and 2) I haven’t been doing such a great job of nurturing my skin this year.

It’s much colder this week, and I’m back in sweaters and multi-layers. I’m not sure what kind of conditions you’re experiencing this winter (or even if it is winter where you are), but I write this to remind us all to take better care of our skin…particularly during the winter months.

When the Wind Blows…
Winter conditions can wreak havoc on the skin, particularly on the face, lips, and hands. When we frequently head outdoors into very cold temperatures (often with low humidity) and then immediately head indoors (where we’re exposed to consistent indoor heat), the skin gets quite a workout.  Even when there are sunny days, the air is dry, the evenings are cold, the indoor heat is constant and it all takes its toll on the skin.

The Result?
Overall in the winter, the cold outdoor dryness and warm indoor heat sap the moisture right out of our skin – which can leave it chapped, dull, extremely dry and even flaky (which is what I noticed last week when I took a few minutes out to scope out my bare arms.) But there are steps we can take to turn things around and help our skin thrive during the winter.

I hope you’ll take a real close look at the following list and join me in putting it into action:

Create a Healthy Glow from the Inside Out:
5 Tips for Turbo-Charging your Winter Skin Care

1. Keep yourself hydrated! While you may not feel thirsty as you bundle up and bustle about in the cold, consuming plenty of fluids is one of the primary tips for retaining moisture and maintaining the elasticity of your skin. Stay clear of the coffee and go for 8 or more glasses of purified water and herbal tea each day.

2. Boost your intake of Antioxidants* and Essential Fatty Acids*. *Antioxidants: Eat (or drink the juice from) blueberries, cranberries, acai berries, and dark purple and red grapes. Eat more tomatoes or tomato sauce for the Lycopene and eggs for Lutein (found in the yolk). Regular consumption of foods rich in Beta Carotene (yams, carrots) can help protect skin from sun damage.

Consider adding Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) supplements to your regime (always check with your health care practitioner.) ALA neutralizes free radicals in the body and promotes healthy cell function. Your skin will appreciate the help.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s): EFA’s play a vital role in the health of your skin, nails and hair. They help your body form healthy cell membranes that will actually hold water inside the cells, hydrating your skin. You can boost your intake of EFA’s by increasing your consumption of fresh nuts, seeds, and wild Alaskan or Pacific salmon. High-quality Flaxseeds are also a great addition to the diet. Store them in the fridge and grind before using in smoothies, on oatmeal, soups or salads. Or buy already ground Flaxmeal and store in the fridge. EFA supplements for you to include are: Flaxseed oil or fish oil capsules (good source of Omega 3s), and Evening Primrose Oil or Borage caps for Gamma Linolenic Acid, which is a highly beneficial Omega 6 that you can’t easily get from food.

3. Increase circulation and stimulate blood flow to the skin. Get a fully-body or foot massage or facial. Use a dry brush to exfoliate dead skin cells and stimulate the skin to a nice rosy glow before you shower. Go easy on the hot water in the shower. Yes, the steam is great but excessive hot water can further dry your skin. Do Tai Chi, QiGong, or 10-15 minutes of aerobic exercise a day. You can give yourself a mini facial by adding a sprig of fresh Rosemary (or 2 drops of rosemary essential oil) to a bowl of steaming hot water. Hold your head directly over the bowl (but be careful not to get too close to the water) and place a towel over your head and the bowl to hold in the steam.

4. Eliminate conventional soaps and body washes that contain detergents and synthetic ingredients. They strip natural oils from your skin. Browse the aisles of your local health food store or alternative pharmacy to find an all-natural, gentle body wash. Look for one that is made with organic, highly moisturizing and protective coconut, olive, and/or jojoba oils or seaweed. (I like Zia’s Natural Seaweed Cleanser, which is primarily for the face. As I boost my skin-care regime, I’ll be using it for an all-over wash. )

5. Use body oil to moisturize instead of lotion. Lotions are predominantly water-based. Winter’s dry conditions evaporate the water from your skin before the lotion can do any moisturizing. A better bet? body oils! Containing no water, they are the purest form of moisturizer. To maximize body oil’s absorption action, you need to apply it to your wet skin immediately after you shower or bathe.

Also, try applying body oil while you are actually still in the steamy shower, massaging it onto your skin (which increases circulation). By the time you finish showering and step out of the shower, the body oil will be thoroughly absorbed into both the outer (dermis) and deeper (subcutaneous) fatty layers of the skin. This will give your skin the deep moisture it needs to stay hydrated, moist, and supple. (I’ll be using the organic body oil by Alba.)

Look forward to hearing from you as you implement these tips. And  if you’ve got some tips to add, those of us with thirsty skin would love to hear them!
To your Health!

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