Avoid Winter Dry Skin Issues

Avoid Winter Dry Skin Issues

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Now that we are into colder weather, dry skin becomes more of a problem. When we turn on the heat in our homes, the dry winter air plays havoc on our skin. In more severe cases the skin will crack and bleed. I hope after reading this tip you can all avoid problems with dry “winter skin.” My dual system approach is designed to get you ahead of the game and help you maintain great skin year round.

When talking about skin, I usually begin with using EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids). With regards to dry skin, you can use either plant based or fish based products. My personal preference is to use both. EFAs from plants offer certain benefits that fish doesn’t and visa versa. (for more details on these differences, refer to my past articles on vitaminshoppe.com) At our house, I choose to use chia seeds for my vegetable based EFAs. We sprinkle them on just about everything now; salads, eggs, oatmeal, chili, soups, beans, etc. Chia is very high in ALA, in fact a normal serving size (around a tablespoon) will give you nearly 3000mg of Omega-3. Flax seeds are another “food” source of EFAs. Using either freshly ground or vacuum-packed flax seeds will give your body (and skin) the added moisture you may need this winter season. If you don’t like the idea of using these two seeds, you an always buy their oils and take them as a supplement. Evening primrose oil and Borage oil are two more EFAs that can help you out during the cold and dry months. Using 2-6 grams of EFAs from these plant-based supplements will usually do the trick.

With regards to fish oil products, I suggest using the same quantity of Omega-3s per day as you might get from the vegetable products i.e. 2-6 grams per day. Blending both fish and vegetable EFAs is the best approach to adding moisture to your body. Keep in mind that your skin grows from the inside out and not the outside in. In order to have soft, smooth skin year-round, you need to keep your intake of Omega-3s and Omega-6 elevated. I find that sometimes it is necessary to take more than the manufacturer’s recommended dose during the winter. If you choose to take more, please consult with your healthcare provider for a dose that would be right for you.

Another important supplement for skin health is water. (Why do you think they use the phrase “dried up old person”?) It may sound funny, but most of us don’t consume enough water and therefore I call water a supplement. How much depends on you and your activity levels. The bare minimum should be ½ your body weight in ounces of water per day. Example: 150lbs x ½ = 75oz of water/day. If you are an active person, then you will require more. Since your body is made up primarily of water, it is important to make sure you are well hydrated. I have seen many people have wrinkles disappear just by consuming more water alone. Give it a try; your body will thank you.

During the winter, it may be necessary to use a good skin moisturizer several times per day. I suggest applying your moisturizer to your body two times per day. As for your hands, apply after washing and before/after you are exposed to the cold. Luckily, there are a ton of products available to help you beat the winter dryness blues. Many of these topical products contain moisturizing agents such as palm oil, almond oil or shea butter. They even taught us about these in my pharmacy school program. Often herbal extracts will be added to these types of ingredients to achieve other benefits. I usually recommend adding calendula, lavender or chamomile if you have itchy or irritated skin. Adding antioxidants like AstaReal, CoQ10, Green Tea, E, Alpha Lipoic Acid and even berry extracts has become popular now. The belief is that by applying these directly to free radical damaged skin (from sun, chemicals, perfumes etc) you can attack the damage at the point of contact.

Finally, take an active role in what your skin is exposed to year round. Chlorine and other chemicals found in your bath/shower water will contribute to your dry skin. Installing a shower water filter is easy to do and will have an immediate impact on your skin. Other helpful ideas are to avoid harsh soaps, harsh chemicals and use a humidifier during the extreme cold months