The wintertime months can wreak havoc on our skin. From cracked hands, to dry itchy patches and wind-whipped faces, skin is put through the wringer as the days grow shorter and the temperature drops lower. You don’t even have to go outside to experience the impact of winter on your skin. The heat inside your home, office and even car suck the life right out of your skin, leaving it parched and uncomfortable.
It is possible, however, to fight back against dry and sore winter skin; try some of these tactics for what works best for you.
1. Moisturize Naturally
While your first thought may be to reach for the first available cream or moisturizer to put life back into your skin, this move can actually be detrimental. Commercial creams often contain ingredients that do little to replenish moisture and often leave your skin feeling oily.
Avoid pore-clogging moisturizing lotions. Many contain dangerous chemicals labeled discreetly as “fragrance.” Opt for natural oils such as avocado, mineral, primrose, hemp, coconut or almond. Not only do these natural oils feed your skin but they are also more cost-effective than other commercial products. If you do opt for a lotion, choose those containing natural humectants which promote water retention such as hyaluronic acid, royal jelly and honey.
2. Handle Your Hands With Care
Dry cracked hands can be both painful and irritatingly itchy. While washing your hands is an absolute must during cold and flu season, avoid soaps that contain the sulfates sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS) and ammonium laureth sulfate (ALES). These help soaps foam up but can also be harsh on your skin. Use oil-based soaps instead and be sure to keep your hands covered in gloves or mittens when you go outside.
Feed your hands at night by coating them in a thin layer of extra virgin organic coconut oil. You can put on a pair of thin gloves so that you don’t get the oil on your bed sheets. In the morning, your hands will have absorbed all the goodness of the coconut oil and be soft and supple.
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3. Stay in Your Sunscreen
Just because that sun isn’t as warm as it is in June doesn’t mean its rays aren’t as damaging to your skin. While you may not need the all-day protection you would if you were lounging poolside, slather on a broad-spectrum sunscreen before you head out. This is especially important if you plan on hitting the slopes as the reflective glare off of the snow can be just as intense as summertime rays. Use an organic sunscreen that does not contain harsh chemicals. You can also use a thin layer of extra virgin organic coconut oil on your skin for protection. This will give you an SPF of 10.
4. Look To Stay Lukewarm
While the lure of a piping hot shower or soak in a steaming tub of hot water sounds downright luxurious after hours spent outdoors, these piping-hot waters are no friend to your skin’s softness. Hot water breaks down lipid barriers which can result in a loss of moisture and ultimately dry and flakey skin. Stick with lukewarm water and if you just can’t resist turning up the temp, limit yourself to just a few minutes.
5. Eat Up For Optimal Protection
Certain foods can help you avoid the winter wind’s damaging effect. Lycopene found in tomatoes, red peppers, watermelons and grapefruits help keep skin smooth and egg yolks contain lutein which can protect against UV damage. Also, look to incorporate omega-3 fatty acids from wild-caught fish into your diet as these fats have been shown to preserve the collagen that keeps skin firm.
6. Install a Humidifier
If you have forced air heat, your skin will take the brunt of its drying nature. To counterbalance the moisture-sucking impact, crank up the humidifier. Humidifiers put moisture back into the air and will help relieve your dry skin, lips and throat. For best results, it is recommended that the humidity in your home not exceed 50 percent.
Too much humidity can promote respiratory problems. Don’t skimp on the quality of humidifier you purchase, either. The best choice is to have a central humidifier that connects to your home’s air conditioning or heating system. Although these systems can be pricy, they offer the best distribution of moisture. Cool mist humidifiers are the next best choice for those on a budget.
Don’t let your skin suffer this winter – get crackin’ on some of these tips so that your skin doesn’t!