With record-setting arctic temperatures in many parts of the Northeast, the winter season has proven particularly painful this year. This is bad news for your body’s largest organ: the skin.
Our skin produces its own natural oils (or sebum). As we age, our skin produces less moisture, causing it to become drier. Bitter cold winds at your back and the drying indoor heat exasperate this decrease in moisture, which can result in flaking, cracking, and even eczema.
The good news is there are a few options available to help boost your moisture levels both internally and externally. Here, we discuss four simple ways you can shield your skin from the winter cold.
1. Watch Your Water Temperature
Long, hot showers are a nice way to thaw out from winter’s deep freeze. Unfortunately, the heat from showers softens oils that help protect the skin against dryness and irritation. When you scrub your skin with soap or other cleaner, these oils are stripped away entirely. That’s why, in the winter, you should opt to take cooler showers to help lock in more of your skin’s natural moisture. If you insist on taking hot showers, limit them to fewer than 20 minutes and apply a thick, fragrance-free body cream as soon as you get out of the shower.
2. Choose Low-Chemical Body Wash
Speaking of showers, shower gels are a popular alternative to traditional soap, but they may not be the best for your skin. Many gels on the market contain drying chemicals like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), which breaks down sebum and skin protein.
If you use shower gel, check the label to see if it contains skin-drying chemicals. If it does, you may want to swap it for a gentle body wash that does not contain harsh chemicals or fragrance.
3. Increase Intake of Unsaturated Fats
When it comes to relieving dry winter skin, what you put in your body is just as important as what you put on it. Unsaturated fats from foods, such as olive oil, avocados, and omega 3 fatty acids from foods like salmon nourish your skin from the inside out by helping form the building blocks of sebum.
4. Apply Lotions and Oils Regularly
Virgin coconut oil helps to prevent moisture loss, making it an ideal winter moisturizer for skin and hair. The oil’s fatty acids help repair skin cells, and it also contains kinetin, a plant hormone that increases cell division, which slows skin aging. Apply Virgin Coconut Oil immediately after exiting the shower while your skin in still slightly damp.
An equally powerful moisturizer is Shea butter. Shea butter contains vitamins A and E and is renowned for its skin healing properties, namely combating dry skin and wrinkles. Like coconut oil, Shea butter’s rich oils provide a moisture barrier so that moisture stays trapped in skin. (Tip: Many products on the market contain varying amounts of Shea butter. For pure, undiluted Shea butter, look for the “raw” label and an off-white, beige, or ivory color.)
More adventurous types can even whip up their own body butter using Shea butter and coconut oil! See this recipe for more information.
Follow these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to healthier, smoother skin, no matter the weather! For more helpful tips like these, subscribe to the Kendal Northern Ohio blog today!