Putting Your Best Face (and Hands and Feet) Forward: Tips for Healthy Winter Skin
Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize. Can we say it enough? Especially in cold-weather climates, skin is prone to being zapped of its natural oils. For best results, moisturize your entire body while your skin is still damp from bathing; your warm pores will be better able to absorb a moisturizer while still dilated. At night, use a thick, ointment-type cream on your face to create a good layer of insulation against the drying effects of heated inside air. An oil-based moisturizer creates a protective layer so skin retains more moisture than with a cream or lotion. Look for oils that won’t clog your pores, such as avocado oil, primrose oil, or almond oil. Those containing a class of substances called humectants (glycerine, sorbitol, alpha-hydroxy acids and others) attract moisture to your skin. Avoid water-based products and those containing alcohol; these will moisturize temporarily, and then leave your skin feeling dry again. On legs, arms, and feet, use cocoa butter, olive oil, or a similar oil. For best results on hard, calloused feet, scrub gently with a wet pumice stone to exfoliate the outer layer of dead skin. This allows moisturizers to be absorbed faster and deeper. Dry well, especially between the toes, and then gently massage in your favorite moisturizer. Next, slip on a pair of cotton socks. In the morning, enjoy your smooth creamy feet.
Pucker Up. Your lips need a barrier to stay healthy in winter’s cold. Use a lip balm indoors too to fight the effects of indoor heating. Enjoy winter sports without cracked lips by carrying a tube of medicated lip balm in your coat pocket and applying it at regular intervals. Look for SPF so lips are protected against the sun. Keep a jar of Vaseline by your bathroom sink, and apply a layer to your lips after brushing your teeth each morning and night. These habits will prevent lips from cracking and bleeding in the dry, cold winter air. You want to seal moisture in and add hydration. Products with shea butter or sunflower seed oil can nourish cracked lips.
Chow Down. To keep your skin supple and prevent cracking in cold dry weather, enjoy hearty servings of whole grains and allium vegetables. These foods contain selenium, a compound vital for skin’s elasticity. Enjoy foods like oatmeal or whole-grain toast for breakfast; add sautéed onions to your steak; and chop up garlic and leeks for a stir-fry.
Avoid Alcohol. It may seem counterintuitive to avoid the ubiquitous hand sanitizers found in public locations in winter months; in fact, keeping your hands clean is vital to overall health. However, alcohol-based sanitizers, especially when used frequently, will deplete your skin of its natural oils. Instead, find a soap-free gel cleanser or wipe-off antibacterial cleanser. Carry a small bottle in your bag or backpack. Your hands can stay bacteria-free and moisturized, especially with products labeled “hydrating.”
Nourish from the Inside. Just as important as the healthy oils you put on your body are those you ingest. Eat foods rich in fatty acids, which support healthy skin-cell membranes. Fish, nuts, flax seeds, and vegetable oils all provide fatty acids to strengthen your skin and prevent moisture from escaping. For a delicious dinner, roast salmon with rosemary and serve it with a side of farro cooked with chopped apple, mushrooms, raisins, sage, and a bay leaf. Sprinkle with toasted walnuts and drizzle with rosemary-scented olive oil.
What skin care secrets can you share for preserving the health of our largest organ when polar vortices and icy blasts arrive?