Updated: Jan 29, 2020
The cold, winter months are full of mixed emotions - it can be a play haven for the ski bunnies, a reprieve for those who don’t like the heat and an excuse to bundle up near a cozy fire. But it can also bring about the nasty colds, the flu and cause skin to become dry, cracked and for some, incredibly painful.
If you suffer from any skin issues, such as eczema, psoriasis, or even acne, you may notice it
gets worse in the winter months. Apart from spending your whole day lathering heavy creams and specialty lotions on your skin, it’s entirely possible (and a whole lot safer) to prevent dry skin altogether with a few easy steps.
Hydrate: From the inside out! Drinking water may seem like the obvious tip here but it cannot
be stressed enough. Drinking enough hydrating fluids such as infused water, herbal teas,
smoothies, cold pressed juices helps your skin function optimally. Your skin is your body’s
largest organ - meaning it has needs to stay healthy. When you drink enough hydrating fluids, your skin is moisturized and maintains its elasticity which prevents the cracking or blistering symptoms of dry hands. On the flip side of drinking to stay hydrated, it’s also important to limit the dehydrating culprits, such as coffee, alcohol, and sugar-laden drinks and juices. For every cup of coffee consumed, be sure to replenish with 2-3 cups of water - and that’s just to offset the coffee.
If you’re tired of the taste of water or find it bland, try adding some lemon or orange (for an
added dose of vitamin C - also helpful in the winter months), honey, cucumber, or a rosemary
twig (rosemary is excellent for liver health!). Fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, berries,cucumber, tomatoes and spinach are also contain lots of water so don’t forget that it’s very possible to eat yourself to hydration (and good health) as well!
Dry Brush: We’ve all heard that exfoliating is great for your face because it prevents premature aging, brightens skin tone and gets rid of the skin that trap bacteria and dead cells that lead to acne. This is all true but in addition, exfoliating also allows new cells to regenerate and this regeneration process needs to happen from head to toe, not just on the face. The best tool for body exfoliation is a dry brush. When our skin is properly exfoliated, the hydrating oils we apply either in the shower or after are better absorbed, giving our skin the hydration and suppleness required to stay healthy. Added benefits to dry brushing include improving blood circulation, encourages lymph drainage (our body’s waste transport system) and stimulates the nervous system which can result in a lasting energy boost!
(Technique: dry brush before showering for best results. Start with the outer limbs first like the hands and feet and brush in a circular motion towards the heart. Get a dry brush with a long handle for those hard to reach places like the middle of your back and feet!)
Oils: Good, healthy, organic oils are excellent dry skin remedies that can either be consumed
(i.e. eating) or applied topically. Coconut oil, Olive oil, Walnut oil, Avocado oil (just to name a
few) can all double up as healthy diet/kitchen staples and skin soothing ointments. By choosing to apply oils instead of heavy creams, or fragranced lotions, you skip the unnecessary step of of absorbing chemicals and ingredients (that are often toxic to the body) which eventually seeps into the blood stream and needs to be detoxified by the liver. Oils are also more readily absorbed by the skin and they help seal in moisture leaving a protective lipid barrier.
For a super awesome hand and/or body scrub that combines exfoliation AND hydration, use
your left over coffee grinds and add a heaping tablespoon of any of the mentioned oils (or honey works well too), rub hands together and use the mixture as a hand scrub, or use all over the whole body.
Fats: No, we aren’t suggesting you cover your body, or dry skin areas in fat! But we are asking you to eat more of the good, healthy fats that provide massive healthy skin benefits. Healthy fats such as omega 3s and omega 6s help build skin integrity by supporting a healthy cell membrane which leads to healthy, hydrated skin. These fats are found in delicious foods like avocado, extra virgin olive oil, wild salmon (and most cold water ocean fish), organic nuts and seeds. If none of these foods are up your nutritional alley, supplementation is always an option - speak to a nutritionist or naturopath for more information and appropriate dosage.
Rest: Every system, organ, part of your body uses rest as its time to regenerate, restore and
rebuild. And as mentioned above, your skin is your body’s largest organ. Not getting enough
rest negatively impacts moisture levels in our skin which can lead to premature aging, acne, dry skin, and a less-than-glowy complexion. Adequate sleep and rest is essential for skin health and to manage stress which is also a bad buzz when it comes to our skin - stress can not only cause skin issues but it can also make existing skin conditions much worse. In order to prevent nasty flare ups, it’s super important to control stress and give the body time to rest. If you find these tips don’t help or your eczema or psoriasis feels out of control, talk to a
naturopath about potentially getting a food sensitivity test; there could be something in your diet that isn’t agreeing with you, causing uncomfortable skin reactions.