We are looking at a winter wonderland outside. But the white stuff isn’t snow, in fact none of it is—it’s ice! Yes, North Carolina has gotten a beautiful ice storm. The tiny little pebbles came down for several hours accumulating up on the rooftops, the trees and the roads. So, in honor of feeling like we are in the North (albeit briefly), we decided to tackle the tough question of “How to Keep Your Skin From Drying Out During the Winter Months.”
Cold weather and dry, warm inside air tend to be a perfect combination to create, red, itchy, scaly, dry skin. Add to that, a body that is eating more cooked foods than fresh, rubbing toxic moisturizers on the skin, likely experiencing at least one or more nutritional deficiencies and it is easy to see how dry skin can quickly turn into eczema, psoriasis, or other painful and difficult skin conditions.
Here is a short list of seemingly evident (but perhaps not adhered to) ways that will keep your skin from drying out over the winter.
1. Don’t Shower in Chlorinated Water
You might get away with keeping moist skin during the summer but not only will it come back and haunt you during the winter with dry skin, sadly, there are many more detrimental effects of toxic chlorine to your body. A whole-house water filter is the optimal way to prevent chorine from touching your skin while you bathe. Another way to prevent it is to place a filter on your showerhead. These are both inexpensive ways to keep your skin from drying out as well as protecting the rest of your body too!
2. Consume Greater Amounts of Omega 3 Oils and Healthy Fats
These include, avocados, walnuts, flax seeds and quality fish oil supplements. These fatty acids are responsible for the health of the cell membrane, which is not only what acts as the barrier to things that are harmful, but also the passageway for nutrients to cross in and out and for waste products to get in and out of the cell. In addition, since the membrane is what influences the cells ability to hold water, having a nice, healthy barrier yields moister, softer, more wrinkle-free skin.
3. Use Natural Oils as Moisturizers
This is the time of year that moisturizing companies spend great amounts of money on advertisements. Sadly, the research and development of their products would benefit greatly from those dollars. Instead of getting quality ingredients you will probably find alcohol and other damaging ingredients that are more detrimental to the body if used long term.
Balms, Body Butters and Body Oils can provide protection against the cold and wind and nourish the skin just as well as moisturizers. Avocado, carrot seed, coconut and argan oil all moisturize and sooth dry parched skin. Shea and cocoa butter, often found in natural balms, are excellent emollients.
The best time to apply them is right after a shower, when your skin is still moist. It helps lock in the moisture from your shower and protects your skin in dry conditions. Applying once a day may not be enough, sometimes it helps to apply 2 or 3 times a day.
4. Give Your Hands a Hand
The skin on your hands is thinner than on most parts of the body and has fewer oil glands. That means it’s harder to keep your hands moist, especially in cold, dry weather. This can lead to itchiness and cracking. Wear gloves when you go outside; if you need to wear wool to keep your hands warm, slip on a thin cotton glove first, to avoid any irritation the wool might cause.
5. Avoid Wet Gloves and Socks
Wet socks and gloves can irritate your skin and cause itching, cracking, sores, or even a flare-up of eczema.
6. Hook Up the Humidifier
True, extreme cold temperatures do suck the moisture from your skin. But retreating indoors, where central heating (as well as space heaters) blast hot dry air throughout homes and offices can leave your skin equally parched. Humidifiers get more moisture in the air, which helps prevent your skin from drying out. Place several small humidifiers throughout your home; they help disperse the moisture more evenly. There are even whole-house humidifiers that can attach to a furnace. When using the small humidifier, consider adding a teaspoon of tea-tree oil to the water tank to clean it every few days and prevent mold.
7. Ban Superhot Baths
Sure, soaking in a hot bath feels great after playing out in the cold. But the intense heat of a hot shower or bath actually breaks down the lipid barriers in the skin, causing blood-vessel dilation that results in water loss throughout the epidermis. You’re better off with just warm water, and staying in the water a shorter amount of time. Stick with a chemical and fragrance free body wash or bar soap. Pat — don’t rub — your skin dry. A lukewarm bath with oatmeal or baking soda can help relieve skin that is so dry it has become itchy.
8. Don’t Forget About Good Nutrition
Even though a hearty bowl of stew is what most people desire when the temperatures are bone chilling, the best thing to do is to eat a large, colorful salad first. Don’t skip the raw, living foods during the winter. Your body hasn’t taken a vacation from requiring the living enzymes and nutrients it needs to maintain its health—no matter what the outside temperature is. A living foods diet with healthy oils and fats will help you to retain moisture in your skin for long periods of time.
Another key to controlling that dry skin inflammatory process: Avoiding foods that spike insulin levels, such as simple carbohydrates, including sugar, white flour, and starchy foods. Eat too many of these and your skin will suffer. Any food that causes insulin to spike can induce inflammation — and that can irritate any skin condition influenced by inflammation, which is pretty much all skin conditions, including the way skin ages.
9. Stay Hydrated
Even though you may not be sweating out moisture as you would on a hot summer day, your body (particularly your skin) needs quality water provided throughout the day. More and more evidence suggests that hydration can be a primary cause of many illnesses and sicknesses, including dry skin.
10. Turn Down Your Thermostat
And add a blanket to the couch as well as your bed. No reason to keep that hot air blasting when your body warmth can create a comfortable experience with a little more clothing or another blanket.
So, go ahead and create that snowman and enjoy those winter sports. The fresh air and exercise will do you good. If you are eating a primarily raw, living foods diet, drinking pure water and using non-toxic methods of moisturizing your skin, you can easily sail through the days of winter without the drudgery of dry skin. Now when it comes to driving on those ice-slicked roads…. that’s another story.