Winter has arrived and the time of rampant dry skin is upon us. Dry skin is the result of lack of moisture in the environment. Is there a way to avoid flakiness, itchy patches and cracked skin as the winter air surrounds us for several months? Maybe not completely, but we can take these simple steps to restore the moisture our skin is craving.
Keep the air around you as moist as possible:
- Buy humidifiers and put them in the rooms where you spend most of your time – particularly in the room where you sleep. Forced air furnaces can be equipped with humidifiers that will send moisture to all parts of your home or workplace. As an alternative, buy some plastic saucers for use under potted plants, fill them with rocks and add water. Place them around, and as the rocks become saturated with water, these saucers will give off moisture for several days without refilling.
- Watch the temperature where you are – if you begin to sweat (other than naturally while working out), adjust the temperature to be cooler so the sweat won’t dry out your skin. Keep your thermostat as low as you can without becoming chilly. There will be less dry air circulating.
- Take brief showers – 15 minutes maximum, and instead of using hot water, try a tepid temperature. The steam created by hot water zaps moisture out of skin, leaving you itchy and scaly instead of smooth and glowing.
- Stop smoking. This is the number one anti-dry-skin tip, according to consultant dermatologist Dr. Tim Clayton, “Smoking dries out the skin and accelerates other signs of aging.” (Reported by Lucy Atkins in The Guardian in Jan. 2008.)
- Drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Help your skin stay moist from the inside out. And cut way down on drinks that contain caffeine such as coffee, tea and colas. Caffeine has a diuretic affect on the body causing it to lose moisture and become dehydrated.
- Moisturizer doesn’t actually add moisture to the skin, but it locks in the moisture already there. The best time to moisturize, according to the American Association of Dermatologists, is within three minutes of getting out of the shower – every time you shower. You can also moisturize throughout the day as needed. Read the ingredient list of moisturizing products before you choose so you know you are not moisturizing with toxic chemicals. Try to choose a product that contains only ingredients you can easily identify and pronounce. A health food store or online health retailer offers the best selection of non-toxic products.
- Organic hair conditioner can be a great option for skin because it is thick and oil-based. But don’t rub anything on your skin that you would not want to put in your mouth. Anything applied to the skin will soon enter the blood stream.
- Check out the soap or body wash you use – skin cleansers should be unscented and made only of naturally occurring ingredients. Use a skin cleanser that contains no fragrance or chemicals. Again, the best place to shop is a health food store or health oriented online retailer. Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil Soap is a good choice. It is free of all toxic ingredients that dry skin and contains only olive oil, water and salt.
- Exfoliate regularly, says Jeff Moore, an instructor of pharmaceutics at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, as reported in US News and World Report. Exfoliating sloughs off dead and dry skin cells, allowing new, healthy cells to grow.
- Use non-toxic lip balm regularly.