Winter in Indiana.  It’s cold and dry.  The gray days have a big impact on a lot of us.  It all wears on us, and can show up on our skin.  

Besides being a protective shell, skin has many functions such as regulating our body temperature, making and storing Vitamin D, and eliminating toxins. In fact, it is responsible for releasing one third of the body’s toxins.

Instead of hunching over and waiting for spring to come, keep your skin soft and fresh using these six tips.

Hydrate

Winter is such a harsh season for our skin.  The lack of humidity in the air can cause the moisture on the top layer of skin to evaporate.  Dehydrated skin can look flakey, scaly and cracked.  Staying well hydrated helps our organs to work more efficiently.  When our organs work properly, it helps to relieve the skin from the duty of sweating out toxins.  

Easy ways to stay hydrated include:

  • Drink lots of water.  If cold water makes you shiver, try adding in warm herbal tea. 
  • Increase your intake of water based foods like berries, cucumbers, oranges, lettuce, and lemons. Try adding a lemon or cucumber slice to drinking water with a tiny pinch of sea salt. 
  • Include healthy fats in your diet daily. Healthy fats like monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fats are found in salmon, avocado, and oils.
  • Avoid too much caffeine.  Caffeine in moderation is an easy way to welcome the day.  Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine.  If you drink coffee, use almond or coconut milk for cream instead of overly-processed, sugary flavored creams.  

Humidifiers and Diffusers

A humidifier can help to moisture into the air to help your skin stay moisturized  Humidifiers also relieve dry sinuses by keeping the nasal passages lubricated. Try adding essential oils to your humidifier or diffuser for an added boost.  Use lavender oil to calm and relax, peppermint oil to energize, and citrus oils to lift your spirit through depression or down days.

Exfoliate weekly

The cool, dry air accelerates water loss from the skin, which can leave skin looking rough, dry and dull.  Over-exfoliating skin removes good oils and can irritate the skin more than help it.  

However, proper exfoliation keeps skin fresh by clearing away dead, dry skin cells that sit on top of your skin.  

Exfoliating also allows other skincare products to work more effectively and penetrate deeper. Exfoliate weekly to keep your skin looking bright.  

Remember, when choosing an exfoliator, stay away from harsh peels, astringents and abrasive scrubs. Instead, try a gentle scrubs made from natural ingredients.  

Be Gentle with Your Skin

Over-cleansing skin or using harsh scrubs full of chemicals can also damage the lipid barrier.  A damaged lipid barrier can result in dry, inflamed skin.  Your skin can break out because it over-produces sebum (oily secretion) to make up for the lack of oil.  Your skin needs time to recover after exfoliation, especially in the winter.  Try hydrosols to tone skin or essential oils for therapeutic skin care.  

Eat Right & Supplement When Needed:

As a naturopathic doctor, I focus on helping clients relieve chronic illness and live new lives free of challenging symptoms.  Oftentimes, my first task is to help clients make good food decisions.  Eating a clean diet can make skin clearer and fresher while also reducing digestive issues and mood destress such as anxiety and depression.  Supplements such as fish oil, antioxidants and probiotics keep your skin (and other systems) healthy.

Manage Stress

Life is stressful, but it can be managed.  Just as stress effects mood, digestion, and immunity, it also impacts skin. It can do everything from throw off skin’s natural balance to break down collagen, which then puts our skin at risk for accelerated aging.  There are so many ways to deal with stress.  

Here are a few options that take some stress off your skin:

  • Self Massage: Colder weather can constrict blood cells.  Keep things flowing by massaging the skin regularly. Proper blood flow rejuvenates, detoxifies and oxygenates the cells, which is essential for good skin.  Self massage also stimulates collagen and elastin fibres. 
  • Yoga: When done properly, yoga is both healing and therapeutic.  Yoga brings balance to the body and mind through gentle movements with the breath. The body becomes equally strong and flexible, and the mind becomes peaceful and calm.
  • Acupuncture: From easing anxiety to back pain relief, acupuncture may be effective in treating both the body and mind. For instance, acupuncture has been researched to target the effects of anxiety by slowing the body’s production of stress hormones.  
  • Sauna: Infrared saunas work by heating your body’s core instead of the air around you. Sauna sessions are not only great stress-relievers, but also opens up your pores as the result of a deeper sweat, improving skin’s appearance.

Winter is tough, but it doesn’t have to be tough on your skin.  For more questions about skin problems or other chronic issues, contact us for help finding your body’s natural balance.

Dr. Melanie MacLaren is a naturopathic doctor and registered yoga teacher who is passionate about natural health and the individualized needs of each of her clients.

Call 317-818-1800 to learn more about Dr. Melanie or request an appointment.