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Don't Crack Under Pressure

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Don't Crack Under Pressure

While hiding under layers of clothing might take the bite out of winter, the dry air that comes with cold weather and the heat of the furnace can cause a different pain in the form of dehydrated, itchy skin. Luckily, you can beat Jack Frost at his game.

While hiding under layers of clothing might take the bite out of winter, the dry air that comes with cold weather and the heat of the furnace can cause a different pain–in the form of dehydrated, itchy skin. Luckily, you can beat Jack Frost at his game.

Begin with a few skin basics. Dry skin results from moisture loss, so make sure you drink enough H2O. Drink a minimum of eight 8-ounce (250-mL) glasses of pure, filtered water every day–more when you work out or use the sauna. Limit your intake of diuretics like coffee, tea, and alcohol, and instead drink soothing herbal teas.

To trap moisture in skin cells, increase the number of essential fatty acids (EFA) in your diet to strengthen skin cells membranes, which are made of fat. If your diet doesn’t include three weekly servings of deep-water fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, or sardines, be sure to add fish oil supplements to your daily routine. Alternatively, seed oils like borage and evening primrose oil are excellent for healthy skin and can be taken in supplement form.

Face Facts

You may look adorable when the cold winter air gives your cheeks a rosy glow. But to keep skin glowing, be sure to remove dead skin cells through exfoliation. For daily exfoliation, gently wash your face with a cotton washcloth. But be sure not to tug and pull at makeup–especially around the eye area. Look for a facial cleanser made with botanical soapwort (Saponaria officinalis). Oilier skins might benefit from Castile soap, made with olive oil and soda.

For a more thorough exfoliation, try natural scrubs containing crushed walnut, almond, or oatmeal. Products with essential oils like black currant and passion flower help to firm skin and reduce the appearance of lines. Drier skins benefit from weekly exfoliation, and if you have oily skin, you can exfoliate up to three times per week. Be sure to use a light touch with oily skins, though, as too much skin manipulation can trigger more oil production.

Always apply moisturizer on still-damp skin to increase its absorption. If facial skin is especially dry, try healing jojoba oil or Moroccan argan oil. Trap water in skin before a day on the slopes or at the rink by applying an occlusive moisturizer, which closes skin pores. Shea butter and cocoa butter are excellent choices. Be aware that occlusive moisturizers can lead to pimples unless skin is cleansed thoroughly at the end of the day.

Body Beautiful

Dry-brushing your body from head to toe before your bath or shower will boost circulation and help you to shed dull, dry flakes. Cleanse in warm water; hot water might feel good on your cold body, but the high temperature causes lipids to melt away, reducing the protective barrier of outer skin.

Turn a winter bath into a spa experience by adding a few drops of essential oils to the water. You could also add 1/4 cup (60 mL) Epsom salts and 1/4 cup (60 mL) extra-virgin olive oil to bathwater for a detoxifying and skin-softening soak. However you choose to clean your body, limit water exposure to 15 minutes. Any longer will rob skin of precious moisture. Follow with a body moisturizer containing olive oil or coconut oil to leave skin feeling soft and supple. Try soothing calendula ointment or prick an evening primrose capsule and massage the oil directly into any patches of irritated winter skin.

It’s easy to hide your skin under layers of clothes in the cold, Canadian winter. Just don’t forget that the skin-baring temperatures of spring are right around the corner.

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