Is anyone else feeling exceptionally dry these days? It’s amazing how our skin texture can transform from oily and moist during the hazy, hot humid days of summer to an arid, itchy, cracked and peeling mess in just a few short weeks. Our skin is extremely susceptible to changes in humidity in the air. These changes come from the weather outside and also from the dryness we experience from our home- and car-heating systems. How does one help prevent the winter dry-skin doldrums? The key is to address both moisture loss, good dietary hydration and the application of skin-friendly moisturizing ingredients.
Dehydrated skin can compromise the immune function of the skin and cause it to look older and more wrinkled. Targeted nutrition, both dietary and topical, can dramatically increase the moisture level of the skin and help you maintain a healthy glow even during the cold weather months. There’s a nourish-from-the-inside-out and outside-in story to be told with skin hydration, as with so many other aspects of skin care.
Let’s begin by looking at how hydration works in the skin. There are two ways in which the skin stays moist—by stopping water loss, referred to as Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL)…and by adding moisture from the outside through the application of topical skin-care products. The ingredients that you choose to apply to the skin can make a big difference in the hydration status of the skin. Just as with dietary nutrition, you need to use good, clean, topical nutrition to the skin to get the best results.
Topically, it is best to apply moisture-trapping products with ingredients such as squalane, jojoba, argan oil, shea butter and hyaluronic acid to retain precious water without clogging the pores. There are also vitamins that have been studied and shown to help the skin hold moisture. They include vitamin E, niacinamide (B-3), vitamin B-5, and vitamin C. Ingredients like alcohols, sulfates, artificial fragrances and colors, and antimicrobial chemicals can dry the skin and should be avoided.
A good practice for both body and facial care is to shower and cleanse with warm, but not hot, water and apply moisturizing products as soon as possible while the skin is still slightly damp.
For a winter facial regimen, I suggest a layering approach. During the dry winter months I typically start my day by cleansing with a botanically based creamy cleanser, followed by the application of a hydrating serum. I personally use one that contains perfluorocarbons—skin-care ingredients that grab onto and hold moisture, along with D20, which is essentially heavy water. Next, I add a thin layer of a luscious moisturizing cream that has a whipped, light shea butter base and added antioxidant protection. I finish with a 100% mineral sunscreen, with added aloe to protect and contain water loss. On a weekly basis, use a gentle exfoliating cleanser or fruit-enzyme home peel to clear away the dry, dead skin cells and allow the moisturizing ingredients to penetrate the skin.
If we ONLY focus on retaining water in our cells through the application of topical products, we are missing part of the story. We hydrate our cells through our diet as the primary source of water. Ensuring that one is drinking adequate water per day (six to eight glasses of water or water-rich foods per day or until your urine is light yellow) is critical to maintain good hydration.
Fats play a role here, too. Without adequate fat in the diet, skin cells lose moisture and integrity. Be sure that your diet contains adequate amounts of healthy fats like omega-3 and monounsaturated fats every day. Good sources of 0mega-3 include fatty fish and fish oil supplements, ALA (which converts to omega-3) from milled flax and walnuts, and monounsaturated fats from almonds, avocados and olive oil. I personally feel that healthy fats should not be restricted, but rather eaten in abundance as part of a balanced, whole-foods based diet to support fabulous skin.
There’s no reason to let the cold weather steal your healthy glow this winter season. With targeted nutritional and skin-care strategies, you can keep your skin looking hydrated and fabulous no matter what the weather is outside!
If you would like for me to create a personalized skin-care regimen for you, please connect with me in the comments section below.
Click here to read Ginger Hodulik Downey’s book The Esthetician’s Guide to Outstanding Esthetics.