If your skin is starting to feel the effects of winter you’re not alone. A combo of cold windy weather outside and hot dry air inside has left a lot of us with flaky, dry and itchy skin.
For some folks things get so bad that the skin on their feet and hands begins to crack. Yikes!
But it’s not just the weather alone that’s responsible for uncomfortable winter skin.
It turns out you could be contributing to our own winter skin problem.
The #1 skin mistake you’re likely making
More on those missteps in just a moment, but first let’s talk about the number one skin mistake most of us make, and that’s tying to heal our dry skin with any old off-the-shelf store bought product.
Slathering on drugstore lotions and potions may seem help temporarily. But in the long run they can often backfire and make things worse.
You see many bargain brands are full of artificial and even toxic ingredients that can do more damage than good, drying out your already parched skin even more… or worse.
Bargain brands can do more harm to your dry winter skin
For example parabens, which are widely used in personal care products ranging from lotions to shampoos to prevent bacteria growth, can cause skin irritation or contact dermatitis (think red and itchy skin… sound familiar?).
Even worse, parabens have been linked to rises in estrogen levels which could raise your cancer risk.
And those strong artificially produced fragrances might smell delightful, but they can lead to allergic reactions and skin irritations in many users… even those who don’t realize they’re sensitive to them.
Look for lotions—and other beauty and bath products—that are free of harsh artificial ingredients and toxic chemicals.
If you can find natural and organic versions you like, even better. The folks over at the Environmental Working Group can give you a hand with that (ewg.org).
But let’s get back to those other missteps you might be making.
Beware of these 4 Dry Winter-Skin Assassins
Once you know what you’re doing to contribute to your own winter skin woes you can ditch those “Skin Assassins” and turn your skin situation right back around.
Dry Winter-Skin Assassin #1. Soaking Your Skin Dry:
Hiding from the cold in a long hot bath or shower might seem like a terrific idea to drive away the cold on a freezing snowy day. But the truth is it’s also one of the worst things you can do for your skin.
We know, it’s a bit confusing. After all water is wet and your skin is dry, so soaking doesn’t sound like a bad idea at first.
However, hot water quickly strips the protective oils from your skin leaving it even more dried out and itchy. Be kind to your suffering skin, switch to warm water and shorten your shower or bath time.
Want to make your short bath even more skin-friendly and reverse the dry skin itch while you’re at it? Dump in two cups of finely ground oatmeal (buy it already ground or just make your own in the blender) and ½ cup of baking soda. Then sink in and say goodbye to your itchy dry skin.
Dry Winter-Skin Assassin #2. Turning Home into a Hot House:
We mentioned earlier that the dry indoor air in the winter can contribute to your winter-skin woes. While you may not be able to do anything about the air at work or other places where you spend some of your time, you can make your own home more skin friendly.
Don’t worry we’re not going to ask you to turn the heat down. That would just be cruel. But we are going to ask you put some moisture back into the air.
A humidifier is a terrific way to turn a dry, epidermis un-friendly environment into your skin’s savior. If your home has radiator heat you can even buy ceramic humidifiers to hang on each of them, no electricity required.
Dry Winter-Skin Assassin #3. Avoiding Exfoliating:
We get it, your skin feels over dry, irritated and downright angry so the last thing on your mind is a skin scrub.
But the truth is regular gentle exfoliation is one of the best things you can do to combat flaky dry skin. You need to get rid of those old dried out skin cells to make way for the new moist youngsters.
Plus, as an added bonus, getting rid of that old crusty layer allows your skin to suck up even more moisture from those natural organic products you’ve switched to and the humidified air in you now moist home.
Just be sure to use a gentle exfoliator or even a soft bath pouf will do the trick.
Dry Winter-Skin Assassin #4. Dry Skin Diet:
Your mom always told you that you are what you eat, and believe it or not she was right. During the dry winter months it’s particularly important to concentrate on skin-friendly eating to keep your epidermis supple and moist from the inside out.
- Avocados: Avocados are packed with monounsaturated fats which will help your skin lock in much-needed moisture.
- Fish: Fish is a terrific source of skin-friendly omega-3 fatty acids. Moisturizing omega-3s help strengthen your skin cells, fight off irritating inflammation, and even provide protection against over-exposure to the sun. (Skip the inflammation-promoting fried fish and go for baked, steamed or poached instead.)
- Nuts: Nuts are also packed full of skin-strengthening omega-3s, so make them your go-to snack choice during the winter months for an extra boost of this essential fatty acid.
- Fruits and Vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are, of course, naturally full of healthy vitamins and minerals. But if you’re suffering from dry skin reach for more orange and yellow fruits and veggies—including carrots, red and yellow peppers, apricots, pumpkin and mangoes—which are typically brimming with the dry-skin reversing antioxidant beta-carotene.
- Eggs: Everyone knows eggs are a great protein source. Your skin cells put that protein to good use. Eggs are also rich in lutein and sulfur skin-friendly nutrients which help with elasticity and hydration.
- Healthy oils: Extra virgin olive oil and organic coconut oil are full of skin moisturizing good fats. There are also natural anti-inflammatories which means their great for fighting off that dry-skin irritation too. (Bonus, both of these oils make terrific external moisturizers too. Try slathering either one onto your dry cracked feet and slipping on an old pair of socks before bed. When you wake up in the morning your feet will have a new lease on life. You can do the same with your hands and an old pair of gloves.)
- Water: Drink plenty of water and other liquids during the winter months. We’re not going to tell you to follow the 8 glasses a day myth, but a common mistake people make when the weather turns cold is to cut back on their liquids. Getting enough to drink is just as important in the dry winter as it is in the hot summer.
Don’t live with your dry, flaky, irritated and cracked winter-skin, do something about it starting TODAY.
We believe that everyone has good ideas about how best to care for our loved ones and ourselves. Many of our contributors are doctors that have spent their life’s work invested in the health and well being of the human body and mind. Some have spent their lives tirelessly researching health and the human body, developing new vitamins and products dedicated to making people healthier.
Others are ordinary people that have natural family cures passed down from generations, or discovered an inexpensive home remedy out of necessity or even by accident.
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