When winter hits and we turn the heat on, our skin starts to get dry. The cold winter months can wreak havoc on our skin complexions. For some people, it gets dry to a point that it results in cracking, flaking, itching and even eczema. Healthy skin provides a protective barrier against the invasion of bacteria, infectious organisms, parasites and virus. It acts as the body’s first line of defense and stops any foreign infectious elements from penetrating the body. Research suggests that the impact of harsh weathers on our skin and health can be minimized and the skin can stay intact, soft, supple, and glowing all winter long by following some simple and effective tips along with a healthy diet and a good exercise routine 1.
During cold winter months, we tend to drink more caffeinated hot beverages and fail to remember drinking water which may cause dehydration and dry skin. Our skin contains approximately 30% water, which contributes to plumpness, elasticity, and resiliency of the skin. Therefore, staying well hydrated is not only important for a healthy skin but also plays a vital role in the maintenance of overall health 2.
Avoid Hot Showers
Even though, during winter days, hot showers and baths feel amazing but, unfortunately, hot water dries out the skin and causes cracking and flaking of the skin. Therefore, taking shorter showers and baths using warm water helps.
After the baths, pat dry your skin and slather a gentle oil-based moisturizer or simply apply coconut oil, avocado oil, almond oil or African Shea butter while the skin is still damp. It will lock in the moisture and keep your skin soft and supple. It is important to start paying a very good attention to moisturizing the skin continuously with a lightweight moisturizer, before the winter hits. Using an oil-based moisturizer, rather than a water-based one, will create a protective layer on the skin and protect it from cracking and getting dehydrated. A study carried out to measure the moisturizing effects of herbal moisturizers concluded that the moisturizers improve the skin hydration and appearance on daily use. And a significant improvement was seen after the 3rd week of using moisturizer twice daily. The study also indicated that the group using a formula containing Wheat Germ oil, Aloe Vera extract and Turmeric extract showed best results due to their synergistic effect 3.
Turn On the Humidifier
During winter, due to central heating system or regular room heaters, air becomes dry and causes dryness of the skin, lips, nose and the throat. Humidifiers add moisture back into the air and prevent itchy, flaky and cracked skin and keep you refreshed with a soft, and supple skin.
Follow a Good Skincare Regimen for Face
Before winter starts, starting a good skincare regimen for face which includes proper cleansing, toning, moisturizing and using a sunblock, can prepare your skin to face the harsh weathers and help maintain the integrity of your skin. If you have a very dry skin, it’s important to avoid the use of harsh peels, masks and alcohol-based astringents, toners and cleansers. They may strip away natural oils and moisture from your skin, leaving it extremely dry. Here are a few effective tips for a good skincare routine.1. Cleansing
A good cleansing routine is an integral part of skincare routine. To maintain a healthy skin, it is very important to maintain a good balance of moisture and oil in your skin. If you have dry skin, avoid using regular bath-soap bars and face-washes that include soap and alcohol. They tend to dry the skin. It is better to use a mild, soap-free, cream or lotion based face wash and a cleanser which is made for sensitive skin to protect your already drying skin from getting dryer. You can also make your own natural oats face cleanser. It will keep your skin glowing all winter long. Oats are natural emollient, and have soothing and hypoallergenic activity 4.They not only cleanse and moisturize the skin but also protect the skin from numerous skin conditions such as eczema, skin rashes, cracking of the skin, and hives. A natural face-wash with Oatmeal acts as a natural exfoliant and sloughs off dead skin cells and keeps the skin healthy and radiant.Oatmeal Facial Cleanser Recipe
Toning is the 2nd important step of the skincare routine but is often ignored. To achieve a healthy, and an even-toned glowing skin, including a good toner in your face-care regimen is very important. There are many serums and toners available in the market but not every toner is good for your skin. Look for serums and toners that are formulated with natural ingredients, vitamins and antioxidants. If you have an oily skin, look for astringent toners, however, if you have a dry skin, avoid astringent and alcohol based toners. Instead, opt for hydrating toners. You can also make your own natural toners using these simple ingredients.
Natural Hydrating Toner RecipesRose Water Toner for Normal to Dry Skin
Natural Hydrating Mask Recipes
During winter using natural hydrating masks restore moisture levels in the skin, soothe winter symptoms and nourish the dull and rough skin. Also taking some time for self-care gives our mood an uplift and help beat the winter blues. Here are a few face mask recipes for dry skin.Olive Oil and Egg Yolk Face Mask
Olive oil is rich in natural antioxidants, Vitamin E and K. Egg yolks are rich in vitamin A, proteins and nutrients which nourish the skin. Take 2 egg yolks and 4-5 drops of olive oil. Whip them together. Apply this mask all over the face. Leave it on for 15 minutes. Wash with cool water and apply a gentle toner and moisturize the face while the skin is still damp. Using this face mask twice a week during cold and dry weather helps achieve a well moisturized vibrant skin.Avocado and Honey Face Mask
Avocado is packed with skin healthy minerals and vitamins such as iron, calcium, potassium, copper, magnesium, vitamin A, E, B and K and unsaturated fats. Avocado and honey are both humectants, and help cure dry weather symptoms. Simply take one half mashed Avocado and 2 tbsp of Honey. Mix them well together. Apply this mask all over your face. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes. Wash it off with lukewarm water. Pat dry the face and apply a gentle toner and a moisturizer. Using this Avocado and Honey mask once a week may help restore the suppleness of your skin.3. Moisturize
After cleansing and toning the next important step of a good skincare regimen is moisturizing. Applying a light, hypoallergenic, preservative and fragrance free, oil based moisturizer with natural ingredients like almond oil, shea butter, argan oil or jojoba oil helps. It is best to apply the moisturizer when the skin is still damp. It will lock in the moisture, keeping your skin soft and hydrated for longer period of time. For oily skin, look for water based moisturizer instead. According to research, there are many natural herbs and oils that are very effective for preventing, soothing and healing the dry skin. Herbs and oils like Aloe Vera, Comfrey, Peppermint, Chamomile, Avocado, Cucumber, Dandelion, Rosehip, Calendula, Wheat Germ oil, Avocado oil, Ginkgo Biloba oil, Macadamia nut oil, Jojoba oil, Argan oil, Geranium oil, Almond oil and Coconut oil contain a plethora of vitamins and minerals that have antioxidant, anti-aging, emollient and exfoliant activity. They help the skin’s regeneration process naturally and help with scars, stretch marks, sunburns, uneven skin-tone, wrinkles and dry, itchy, inflamed and rough skin. 3 8 9 10
Keeping your lips moisturized by using lip balms that are fragrance and perfume free and contain aloe-vera, beeswax, coconut oil or shea butter, prevents the lips from chapping and cracking. 114. Protect
Finally, the last and very important step to maintain a healthy and flawless skin is to protect it from sun damage. UV rays are present throughout the day and affect the skin regardless of the weather. The excessive exposure to UV rays leads to profound risks to the skin including premature aging, sunburn, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone. It is also linked to the three most common types of skin cancer - malignant melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, which affect more than a million Americans yearly. According to a randomized controlled trial, the incidence of squamous-cell carcinoma was significantly lower in the group that applied sunscreen with SPF 15-plus to their head, neck, arms, and hands compared to the group that did not apply daily sunscreen. 12 Therefore slathering on a sunblock/sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 before heading outdoors, even if it is a cloudy and overcast day, may help protect your skin from many skin conditions. There are many natural oils that have emollient and anti-photoaging activity. Among them is Almond oil, and topical use of Almond oil, according a study, can prevent the structural damage and reduce degradative changes to the skin caused by UV irradiation and it was also found useful in decelerating the photoaging process. 13Almond Oil as a Natural Sunscreen
Simply applying organic Almond oil all over the exposed skin before going outdoors may help protect the skin from wrinkles, sunburn, premature aging of the skin, dry, flaky and itchy patches and other skin conditions caused by UV rays.
What to Look for When Buying a Moisturizer
A good moisturizer is essential for a healthy looking glowing skin. When buying a moisturizer, it is important to know your skin type. Buying a heavier weight moisturizer should not always be the only choice. To achieve a well moisturized and healthy skin, look for moisturizers that don’t contain alcohol, too many fragrances and artificial ingredients and are light, hypoallergenic, and preservative-free. Look for products that contain skin-healthy natural oils and herbs. If you have an oily skin, look for water based moisturizers, however, for a dry skin, buying an oil-based moisturizer may be a good choice. For extremely dry skin, an oil based lotion with up to 20% urea ingredient helps keep the skin soft and moisturized. It is referred to as hydroxyethyl urea and is a humectant. It’s NOT to be confused with preservative urea. 15 16