If you have ever wondered what is the best indicator of weather change, you would agree with me its our skin. Winter is also a time of festivities and parties, which means, you would want to look your best during this time. And looking good begins with having a healthy skin. One issue that tops the list of skin problems in winter is dryness. All other skin issues such as roughness, scaliness and itchiness are a result of dry skin. Simply follow this three step approach to shield your skin from winter blues—proper diet, proper environment and proper skin care.
What is dry skin?
Dry skin means a reduced percentage of water in the skin. The less hydrated your skin, the greater the loss of important nutrients such as natural moisturising factors, lipids and more. As these nutrients bind water, it causes more moisture loss, resulting in a vicious circle of ever-worsening parched skin. This dehydration develops into tightness, roughness, itchiness and scaliness of the skin, and can also trigger the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Dry skin also makes the skin more susceptible to allergies, infections and irritation because as the skin loses more water, the layer of the skin that acts as a barrier to irritants becomes weaker.
Feed your skin
Your skin is a reflection of your overall health. A radiant and healthy skin reflects a healthy body.
For glowing skin include in your diet lots of green vegetables and fruits to get the required doses of vitamin B and minerals. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are emerging as one of the most important components for proper skin hydration. In fact, deficiency of these essential fatty acids causes a peak in dry and itchy skin along with brittle nails. Good sources of omega fatty acids are fatty fish as well as nuts, avocados, flaxseed, green leafy vegetables and legumes. While we often do so much to care for our skin we may miss out the very basic thing—drinking enough water. This is one of the simplest, yet best things you can do for your skin; along with giving your body undisturbed sleep of 7– 8 hours. Caffeinated beverages exacerbate dry skin and should be avoided. Green tea, coconut water and fresh fruit juices help replenish and rehydrate, so enjoy them liberally.
Dry cold air, wind and even the heater air, steal the skin of its moisture, leaving it dry and rough. To simply increase the moisture in the air, using humidifiers is recommended. Although, hot showers may feel desirous and comfortable but they do harm as they aggravate moisture and lipid loss from the skin. Swap steaming hot showers with a lukewarm bath or just reduce the time that you expose your skin to piping hot water. Five minutes is more than enough to enjoy your shower and protect your skin from over-drying.
Even though the winter sun may feel heavenly, try to avoid excess sun exposure since there is a high concentration of UVA and UVB rays even during the winters, thereby leading to more dryness. Proper sunscreen [at least SPF 30+] with both UVA and UVB protection, prevents dryness as well as the sun’s other harmful effects like premature ageing and pigmentation.
Proper skin care
A soap’s pH level is usually more than nine, while the skin’s pH is 5.5. This high pH causes the skin barrier to breakdown, exuding water, lipids and nutrients. This contributes to dryness and irritation. Excess usage of soap can even result in rashes known as ‘irritant dermatitis.’ No soap on the face, period.
Solution: Opt for moisturising washes. Body washes’ pHs are more balanced than soaps. Also, try to look for washes that include ingredients known as natural moisturising factors. These are substances that help to retain water in the skin and increase the skin’s moisture and suppleness. Dryness implies less natural moisturising factors in the skin, and so it is important to add them back through your skin care regime. Also, it is absolutely important to refrain from using soap on the face. A mild cleansing lotion preferably with natural moisturising factors and one that does not lather is ideal.
Most people bathe, rub their skin dry with a towel and then get dressed. This process ensures that the water from their shower doesn’t penetrate their skin, resulting in a drier epidermis [outer most layer of the skin].
Solution: The correct post-bath regime should be to first pat the skin dry instead of rubbing. Then, use a body lotion generously and immediately after bathing to seal in the moisture. The body lotion does not need to be expensive but effective. It should contain at least five per cent urea for optimal water binding as well as essential natural moisturising factors. Hands and feet require special care, particularly during winters, since they have the thickest epidermis and as mentioned before, urea-based products work the best for these regions.
Many people complain that using a body lotion or cream can feel sticky and greasy. To alleviate this problem, while still delivering adequate hydration, I recommend using products with gel-emulsions, which have the feel of a gel with the moisturising effect of a cream. Non-comedogenic products for people with oily skin are preferable as it does not heighten appearance of black/white heads or pimples.
Go the milky way
Trying out hand-picked home remedies every now and then might actually take you closer to the soft, supple skin you desire without burning a hole in your pocket.
Solution: Keep aside 4 – 5 tsp of raw milk every morning before boiling it to brew your tea/coffee. Add a few drops of rose water to it and dab this mixture over your face and body. Leave it for about 15 minutes and rinse with cold water. Some of the most attractive women in history like Cleopatra and Nefertiti have acclaimed the beautifying benefits of these baths.
Make-up tips for winter
Changing trends and changing seasons are always refreshing however winter poses the worst challenge for the skin and not to mention make-up. These basic tips will help you retain your skin’s lustre.
Solution: Put aside all your rich foundations and switch to tinted moisturisers. Avoid powders or mineral based products. Always apply a lip balm before wearing a lipstick and remember ‘less is more.’
Follow these basic guidelines and say sayonara to dry skin this winter.
Top tips for winter skin care
- Chapped lips are the number one problem in winter. Refrain from licking your lips to moisturise them at all times. It will make them even drier. Keep a chap-stick or Vaseline handy.
- Use products that are versatile and provide moiturisation as well as sun protection.
- Physical exfoliation like using a pumice stone to shed dry skin is a ‘no-no.’ Chemical exfoliation with products having lactic acid or using a home-made milk pack is preferable.
- Fabrics like wool can aggravate irritation. Opt for lighter winter-wear versus your usual woollens but if you must, layer cotton apparel under your woollens.
- Any inflammation, redness, itchiness or flakiness should not be overlooked. Do visit a dermatologist immediately.
- Moisturise and moisturise.
Men could also follow the same winter skin care regime.
This was first published in the December 2012 issue of Complete Wellbeing.
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