Written by Lisa Allen, MD
Ever notice how your skin seems drier in the fall and winter and even cracks, chaps or flakes off? While it’s totally normal to shed dead skin cells (about 500 million a day!), it’s the dry air of winter that expedites this process and can starve your skin of the hydration it needs. As the fall months turn into winter, don’t let your skin get caught off guard by crisp, dry air!
Give your skin the nourishment it’s thirsting for with these smart ideas.
Sloughing away dead skin cells and other built up impurities can do wonders for refreshing your epidermis and readying it to better absorb moisturizers and toners. Make exfoliating part of your bathing routine by simply using a rough cloth, exfoliating scrubber or gloves, or even a sugar scrub solvent and your hands, and rubbing your body to essentially sand away rough spots, dead skin, and dry areas.
Shower or bathe per normal afterwards, and make sure to dry off thoroughly and apply lotion before putting on clothes. Exfoliating removes built up gunk from pores, helping to minimize their appearance afterwards and makes your skin look tighter and more toned, essentially transforming your skin from dull and rough to soft and glowing. Avoid open sores, rashes, sunburn, and areas of swelling when exfoliating to prevent irritation or worsening of an injury.
A popular type of exfoliation, dry brushing is a dermatological practice which can both remove dead, dry, and damaged skin from your body, as well as stimulate your lymphatic system. Your lymphatic system is simply a complex network of lymph nodes, lymphatic vessels, ducts, and organs that are responsible for helping your body filter out toxins as well as fight infection. Dry brushing is a crafted group of movements targeted at triggering the flow of lymph fluid, starting at your hands and feet and working inwards in long single strokes towards your chest.
Dry brushing is most effective when you use a dry brush with natural, coarse bristles and a long handle to make reaching your legs and arms easier. In long upwards strokes, the dry brush should be moved, slowing making your way towards your heart and increasing pressure as your body gets used to it. As was the same for exfoliating, when dry brushing avoid open cuts or sores, sunburns, and other areas of injury.
Do you know what exactly it is that moisturizers do to keep your skin hydrated, supple, and elastic? Some of the water inside your body makes it’s way up and out through the three layers of your skin, as it evaporates off your body it cools and dries things off at the surface. In the already dry air of fall and winter, this evaporation process is amplified and even more moisture than normal is sucked out of your skin. Good moisturizers solve this problem by creating a semipermeable layer on top of your skin that helps lock in hydration.
Covering your feet, arms, legs, and stomach is pretty easy, but are you wondering how to apply lotion to your back? Surprisingly there is a whole market for back lotion applicators, often pads or rollers with long handles that let you reach over your head and rub lotion on your own back, handy! Other body parts you won’t want to forget are your lips which can actually chap and even split in cold and dry weather. Moisturize your lips regularly, even when they are not dried out, to maintain a reserve of hydration that will prevent future chapping.
Eating a healthy diet is also an effective tactic to optimize your skin’s elasticity and health. Proper hydration by drinking water regularly and avoiding overuse of caffeine and alcohol plays an important role, as does consuming foods with nutrients that aid tissue repair and support healthy skin.
Vitamin C from foods like bell peppers, citrus fruits, and broccoli contains powerful antioxidants and may protect against sun damage as well as support collagen synthesis.
Foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins contain carotenoids, or antioxidant Vitamin A derivatives that may offer photoprotective properties for the skin. And Vitamin D from milk and eggs, as well as Vitamin E and Omega-3 fatty acids like you find in salmon, walnuts, and chia seeds also bear anti-aging benefits for the skin.
If the central heating, fireplace, or space heater keeping your home warm is removing even more moisture from the already dry air, consider placing humidifiers in commonly used rooms. Humidifiers can not only aid certain cold symptoms and respiratory issues, but as they waft essentially invisible mists of water molecules into the air, they help your skin stay hydrated as well.
Humidifiers come in a variety of types including warm, cold, and ultrasonic, and latest advancements in humidifier technology are introducing air washers to the market – devices that purify and humidify air at the same time.