The air is getting colder and the winter months are rolling in, meaning you may be experiencing drier skin than usual. The time has come to start practising winter skincare once again. Has someone just turned on the internal heating at work? Is it extracting all the moisture from the air making your skin itchy, tight and sometimes even red and blotchy? If so, welcome to the drying world of winter for so many of us.
This year I promised myself I would get a head start on my winter skincare routine. I want my skin to feel hydrated and supple, the way it does in summer. If you’re feeling the same way, we need to make a start now to prevent dry skin and discomfort from setting in. This way, by the time winter is in full swing, our skin will be feeling protected and deeply nourished. So what needs to happen? An expensive night cream? A facial?
Actually, no. Not at all! These might help you out a little bit; but funnily enough, when caring for your winter skin, it’s important to start from the inside out.
Winter Skin Needs Deep Hydration
Firstly, hydration, hydration, hydration! No, not the hyaluronic acid type hydration - but the H20 kind. Are you drinking enough water? In winter, our water intake tends to drop off. Sadly, this is the worst timing for our skin. Water is a key factor in achieving beautiful, supple skin with a high moisture level. Hydrating every cell of our body is so important. It causes the cells to swell and eventually when the skin cells receive that vital H2O, they will respond by plumping up nicely.
Water is also a much-needed ingredient for organ function. It will help to eliminate all the waste from the kidneys, the liver and the intestines. When these vital organs are being flushed out properly with water’s help, toxins will be eliminated effectively from the body and not through the skin; which is the other channel for elimination.
Side note: try to drink pure, filtered water where possible. This will reduce your toxin exposure load - a must if you have acne-prone skin. Also, drink from stainless steel or glass drink bottles. It is a better choice than plastic. If the cold weather makes you crave something warm, experiment with caffeine-free herbal teas, soups or even a mug of hot water with a twist of fresh lemon.
Boost Collagen in the Cooler Months
Secondly, try including some Collagen in your diet. It is a secret weapon. Collagen helps skin to maintain elasticity, and it reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles - regardless of your skin type. Interestingly, collagen works on your insides too. It supports the mucous membranes of the gastrointestinal tract; proving once again that healthy skin comes from the inside out.
Collagen is found in protein-rich foods like beef, chicken, fish and eggs. Try and buy organic where possible. This way, exposure to pesticides and artificial hormones will be reduced. You can also buy collagen in a powder or supplement form. Please seek advice from a healthcare professional as to which product is right for you. Make sure it’s pure. It’s important. Many products contain excipients and fillers, which can be harmful to the body.
Antioxidants are Awesome in the Winter
Thirdly, have you considered antioxidants? Free radicals are a fact of life, but minimising their toxic load on the body will contribute to improving your skin quality. Some examples of free radicals include stress, pollution, poor diet, smoking, exposure to cleaning products, perfumes and believe it or not, makeup and face creams.
In winter, please consider increasing the number of antioxidants in your diet. Dark, leafy green vegetables, brussel sprouts, blueberries, pomegranates, bananas, avocados and almonds are all champions that will fight hard to protect your tissues against free radical damage. Vitamin C is another major player. It is a very potent antioxidant that is geared towards boosting the body’s own collagen production. This, in turn, will result in healthier, winter-proof skin.
Consume Plenty of Skin Boosting Vitamins
Fourthly, it wouldn’t be an article about skincare if we didn’t examine zinc and vitamin A. Zinc plays an important role in skin integrity, connective tissue formation and wound healing. It also helps to boost the Immune system, which is very appropriate at this time of year.
So, pop some fresh oysters into your diet. They are incredibly high in zinc. Vitamin A supports healthy skin cell growth and healthy skin membranes. It can be found in eggs, fortified grains and yellow and orange fruit and vegetables.
Don’t Forget UV Protection
Finally, you’ll want to make sure you apply a high SPF facial sunscreen - even on those cloudy, cold winter days. While the sun might not be as scorching as it is during the summer, harmful UV rays continue to shower down on us. UVA and UVB penetrate the skin, causing damage to cellular DNA. In turn, this can cause genetic defects and mutations such as skin cancer.
We’re all well aware of the damaging effects of UV. From sunburn and age spots to the destruction of collagen and elastin that causes wrinkles and sagging skin, sunscreen is your friend. A good zinc oxide sunscreen will prevent UV from drying out your skin while letting you capture a little bit of colour. You’ll probably be wrapped up nice and warm for winter, so apply some SPF to your face, neck and hands to ward off the effects of premature aging.
Making the Most of Winter Skincare
Wow!! Healthy skin really does start from the inside out. I’m not saying that you should walk past the beauty aisle next time you pop into your friendly Chemist Outlet, but please always read the label first to see what you are really putting on your skin. Especially if you are prone to skin conditions like dermatitis, psoriasis, acne or eczema.
Remember, your skin is an organ, and it will absorb any toxins that sit on its surface. Exfoliate to gently scrub off any dead skin every few weeks and apply a pure vitamin E cream after you have washed your face thoroughly with warm water and a face washer every night.
Lastly, remember to always look beneath the surface to improve your skin quality. I’m starting now. How about you? Don’t wait until winter is well and truly at your door. Prevention is better than cure. Healthier skin will have a holistic flow-on effect to many other parts of the body too. Your winter skincare will work best when you take care of the inside and out.