Saturday, January 14, 2012

Skin protection during winter

Today’s health and beauty buzz is on the importance of protecting your skin from the harsh winter elements.
How am I ever going to get rid of these wrinkles!
It is equally important to protect the delicate skin on your face, neck and ears from the sun during those cold winter months. We tend to think about skin protection during the summer when we are outside enjoying the beach, pool or gardening and we diligently apply and reapply our sunscreen.
The winter sun can be just as powerful especially when reflected off the snow and can create powerful and painful sunburn.  UV rays penetrate through clouds, fog and windows.
  • The cold air outside has little humidity resulting in drying out the moisture in our skin. Cold winter winds can cause wind burn resulting in painful cracked and dry skin. Cover up, apply and reapply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 on exposed skin.
  • The central heating in our homes dries out the air resulting in dry, irritated and itchy skin. Try using a humidifier in the rooms where most time is spent. 
  • Take care to add an extra rinse cycle to your washing machine to ensure all the soap powder is rinsed thoroughly from your clothes. Soap deposit can cause irritation such as eczema.
  • Hot water removes the natural oils from the skin, so limit time spent in the shower. It is preferable to shower but if you want to soak in a bath which so many of us find comforting, pour some soothing oatmeal or oil into the running water to prevent overly dehydrating the skin.  Attempt to keep the water warm instead of very hot.
  • Gently pat yourself dry and apply your body moisturizer whilst skin is slightly damp to help lock the moisture into your skin.
There are many kinds of body lotions, creams and oils on the market. Use a heavier one during the winter months such as a cream or an oil. It is also time to switch to milder body soap. Use one for sensitive and dry skin that does not contain heavy perfume or antibacterial ingredients which further dry the skin.
The skins on the hands particularly suffer due to the constant washing throughout the day and the use of chemicals whilst doing housework.  Use rubber gloves whenever possible and rub a rich emollient hand cream on hands and fingers massaging well into the knuckles and cuticles whenever possible. Look for one containing petroleum jelly or other skin protectorates.  Apply before bedtime and sleep with cotton gloves to lock in the moisture. The same applies to your feet. Cotton socks can be used to protect the bedding from oils. Pay special attention to ankles, knees and elbows.

Our lips are particularly prone to chapping and drying out in the cold and wind. Apply a good lip balm with an SPF throughout the day and Vaseline petroleum jelly at night before bed.
It is also time to switch up to richer creams for our faces. Use a heavier more emollient day cream followed by a good quality sunscreen applying to the face, neck, chest, ears and the backs of your hands. Use a soothing and richer night cream massaging well into the face, neck and chest area.
Avoid over washing and switch to a milder cleansing milk instead of a wash. Change to a toner with no alcohol content. Use scrubs and peels to exfoliate dead skin cells once a week on your face and body. Be cautious not to scrub and rub too vigorously as this will do more harm than good. Exfoliation helps the creams you use to better penetrate the skin.
Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated.
Eat a healthy diet incorporating plenty of omega 3 rich foods such as salmon, tuna, sardines, nuts (especially walnuts) seeds, soybeans and olive oil. Flax seed is a particularly good source and can be added to cereals, smoothies, yogurt, salad dressings and baked goods such as muffins, cookies and breads. Purchase the whole seeds and grind them yourself in a coffee grinder. The omega 3's and the lignans are better absorbed when ground. The whole seeds pass through the intestines undigested therefore giving you little of the health benefits.

Vitamin tip: Take an omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acid supplement, as well as GLA’s obtained from borage oil, black current oil or evening primrose oil.

*Consult with your doctor prior to taking any medication, including supplements.*

Stay healthy, happy and safe.

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