During winter, the skin’s protective acid mantle can be depleted due to cold, drying winds and fierce heating devices. This can lead to dehydration and a dry, papery appearance to the skin. The signs of ageing are accentuated and the appearance and feel of the skin compromised. This may also contribute to an increase in sensitivity during the winter months. Signs of this are redness, broken capillaries and dry, itchy skin.
The interactive nature of skin means that the environment has a great impact on its health and appearance. Your skin tells the world about your age, sex, environment, and emotional wellbeing. For example, involuntary changes in your skin reflect emotional states - you blush with embarrassment, turn pale with fear, and sweat excessively when nervous. What’s more, the appearance, colouration, temperature and feel of your skin can provide important clues as to the health of the entire body.
Because your skin can only be as healthy as the rest of you, it makes sense to take care of your health - physical and emotional. Eating well, drinking plenty of filtered water, enjoying fresh air and exercise all contribute to a happier home for your skin. The naturopathic approach to skin is the same as for every other organ - keep it healthy enough to look after itself and use only what nature has given you to help.
Revitalise your skin with exfoliation. This will remove the dead skin cells and leave your skin feeling smooth and soft. Massage your whole body about three times a week with a mit or body bush before your morning shower. After your shower rub in a light oil or moisturiser, preferably one containing natural vitamin E. Vitamin E heals and regenerates skin cells. Taken internally, vitamin E is involved in facial oil gland secretion where it can have a protective effect.
Good skin care practices are just as important in winter as they are in summer. The climatic changes do, however, provide special challenges to the skin. The main differences at this time of year are:
- Less sweating (skin can be less oily therefore fewer pimples and blackheads)
- More sensitivity
- More dehydration
- Accentuation of the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
- Less of a concerted effort to care for the skin
- Generally poorer nutrition leading to a reduction of skin health internally
- Less pure water consumed in favour of more hot drinks/stimulants. This can lead to a reduction in the health of the skin
- Less outdoor activities leading to more sedentary lifestyle and poor oxygenation of the skin
- Less effort to protect the skin from the damaging effects of the sun
- The two key words for the skin during winter are: Treatment and Protection
It is important to treat dehydration of the skin with appropriate moisturising products as a priority, if benefits are to be achieved and the skin protected with moisturisers. But applying a moisturiser over dehydrated skin is simply masking the problem. Treatment for winter skin ills cannot simply be attempted with external products alone. Maintaining a healthy intake of green, leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fruit and pure water will ensure hydration from the inside and help maintain essential fatty acids in the skin.
1. Stone, P. 6 ways to defend against dry skin. Nature and Health. Jun/Jul 2004:100