During the winter the colder weather can disrupt the normal balance of your skin. When it is healthy and functioning normally your skin cells can hold onto moisture but air conditioning and central heating dry the atmosphere and increase the rate at which moisture evaporates. Meanwhile the skin tends to produce less oil in the cold so it is less protected from water loss. With these factors present even normally healthy skin can become dry and sensitised.
If the upper layer of skin becomes dehydrated it cannot simply draw moisture from the lower layers so it is not just a case of drinking more to keep the body hydrated.
Key to preventing dry skin is preserving and nourishing the intercellular matrix which surrounds and bathes our skins cells. This fluid protects the cells, influences its texture and is the primary barrier to moisture loss.
You can keep your skin healthy from the inside by making sure your diet contains plenty of Omega 3 & 6 essential fatty acids. These fatty acids form part of your skin cell membranes. A deficiency will lead to these membranes drying out and breaking down, ultimately resulting in dry, flakey skin. Generally nuts, seeds and oily fish are all good sources.
There are quite a few things that you can do from the outside to keep your skin healthy and hydrated throughout the winter.
Bear in mind that overly hot showers will zap moisture from the skin and long soaks in the bath can break down the substances that keep skin cells in tact.
If your skin feels tight after cleansing it’s a sign that your cleanser is stripping the natural oils from your skin. If this is the case consider switching to a gentler, creamier product.
Exfoliate at least once a week to remove the build up of dead skin cells. The skin will feel smoother and will be better able to absorb any nourishment you feed it.
If you use a light textured moisturiser during the summer, you may need a richer one for the winter. Make sure that it contains plenty of anti oxidants, skin identical ingredients and anti inflammatory agents.
Skin identical ingredients are water binding agents that mimic the composition of the natural components in our skin. They work in harmony with the skin, helping to strengthen and repair barrier function, keeping the skin moisturised and protected. Scrutinise labels for glycerin, amino acids, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, triglycerides, phospholipids, glycosphingolipids, squalene, polysaccharides and natural moisturising factors such as sodium PCA.
If your skin is feeling sensitive look out for some of the many natural soothers that will help to calm inflammation such as aloe vera, calendula, sea algae extract, D panthenol, shea butter, green tea extract and chamomile.
Dry skin can be transformed by massaging in a blend of plant oils. These are are readily absorbed, especially if warmed beforehand, penetrating the skin to bring a rich supply of vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids . Optimise your blend by including four or five different base oils.
Nurture yourself and boost your skin care with a weekly facial mask. You can make one yourself with ingredients from your kitchen such as egg yolk, avocado, honey, ground almonds, yoghurt.
Finally - the damaging UVA rays can penetrate the clouds even on the dullest of days so remember your sunscreen even in the winter.
As a facial therapist, Norah combines holistic facial massage with organic aesthetics, enzyme peels, lactic and glycolic peels, and botanical cosmeceuticals. She uses organic skin tonics and cold pressed organic oils optimised with a wide range of plant oils and added vitamins.See my profile »