Skin Care: Head to toe

Not just the exposed areas like skin, hands, and feet, but our entire body needs to be moisturised and hydrated

Young woman applying creamIn a hot country like ours, winter is welcome. It is a season to celebrate, a season of festivals and marriages. It is a season in which you relish a variety of vegetables, fruits and dry fruits. It gives relief from the summer heat that tires and dehydrates the body. It is the time when you want to feel the cool wind, sit in the sun, munch on nuts and oranges or enjoy a campfire or barbeque with the family. As you experience this cool nature, don't forget that winter winds are dry and cold [there is no moisture in the air] and it steals the moisture of your skin.

As the skin loses water, it becomes dull, dehydrated and dry. Dry skin, if not treated soon, becomes cracked, and can look dreadful and cause pain. It leads to an early appearance of fine, wrinkled lines. Dry skin may feel itchy, but be careful not to scratch, as it makes your skin thick and rough. If you do not take proper care of dry skin problem, it can lead to other skin aliments.

Skin layers

The upper layer of the skin consists of dead skin cells embedded in a mixture of natural oils that are made by underlying living skin cells. These natural skin oils keep the water inside our body from escaping into the air and also keep harmful substances and germs from entering the body. Both, the skin oils and the dead skin cells, hold some amount of water and this water helps keep the skin soft and smooth. Dry skin results when there is not enough water in the outer most layer of the skin. As this layer is directly exposed to sun, harsh cold winds and pollution, there is constant loss of oil and water in the skin leaving it dry, dull and itchy.

Ways to protect your skin

As the upper layer of the skin protects the entire body, it is essential to have a healthy skin to have a healthy body. Here are a few simple ways to protect your skin.

Use lukewarm water for bath or showers. Keep the process short and restrict the frequency to once a day. Hot water can be relaxing but will make the skin drier. Avoid using soap as much as possible [use shower gels and face wash instead]. Do not use products with strong perfumes as high alcohol content in these make the skin dry. Do not wipe your skin hard; just pat dry to prevent loss of moisture. Apply moisturiser immediately after shower, as it locks the water in the skin. This is effective as pores are open after a bath and there is better penetration of the product.

Take good care of your lips, hands and feet as they are the most exposed and least protected parts of the body. Use a lip balm regularly [lipstick also gives protection] and do not lick your lips as licking leads to evaporation and thus worsens the condition. Use a hand and foot cream at least twice. Getting a manicure and pedicure regularly is also helpful. You can try a quick pedicure at home—soak your feet in a mild shampoo or a Pedi-soak for five minutes, clean and file your nails, use a foot scrub to remove the dead skin. If your skin is very dry, use a foot mask. Take similar care of your hands.

Use a sunscreen. Most people believe that they need to apply sunscreen only in summer. But that is not true, as the effect of UVB rays remain the same, irrespective of the place or season, and they accelerate ageing.

Use floorboard settings in cars to avoid direct contact with warm air.

Use both day and night creams. People with dry skin should opt for creams over moisturisers. Use creams with essential oils as they give better penetration over mineral oils. Creams usually do not penetrate the pores and hence do not benefit the skin. They essentially coat the skin with a layer of cream which comes off when you wash your face. Only products that penetrate the skin can truly benefit the skin. Use a cleanser and toner over a face wash. Use a night cream as they rich in nutrients as compared to day creams. Most night creams also have anti-ageing properties.

Flying makes your skin dry. When flying, remember to carry a moisturiser and apply it on your hands, feet and face several times. Also drink a lot of water to keep yourself hydrated.

Get a body massage. Just taking care of the face is not enough; you need to take care of the entire body. The most affected area of the body is the back. As it is a little difficult to massage the back, visit a salon or spa for a treatment. If for some reason you cannot, use a moisturiser or massage oil every day. It is recommended to do so immediately after shower, over a damp body. You can simply pick a massage oil, or body lotion or try an essential oil like rosemary oil, almond oil or olive oil. Also scrub your body once a week giving special attention to you knees and elbows. Dry skin generally leads to dark knees and elbows. They are the places to first show sign of wrinkles on your body.

Exfoliate [scrub] your face and body regularly. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells and refreshes your skin.

Go for a facial once a month. Facials not only hydrate the skin, but also relax the mind and body. For best results, choose a facial for as per your skin type.

You need a healthy body for a healthy living, so take good care of yourself. If, in spite of all the care, dryness and itching persist and if there are any patches on the skin, consult your dermatologist immediately. Just as most of us wrap bread in a silver foil or a cling wrap to keep it fresh, our skin too needs to be protected to keep it fresh, healthy and young.

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