Cooler, drier weather is in full swing! While the San Francisco Bay Area gets more humid during the winter seasons, I know the opposite is true for the rest of the country. I grew up with sensitive, dry skin that would flake every Fall and Winter (I was so self-conscious!), so I know how annoying and frustrating it can be. It’s especially bad when you have dark skin like me.
Over the years, I made changes in my nutrition and my skin care routine, and both of these have contributed greatly in improving my skin tone an getting rid of flaky dry skin. It was actually a happy coincidence from these positive changes that I noticed this result and it amazed me how much my health can affect the integrity of my skin. Makes sense though! Our skin is an organ (our largest one!) so when we improve our health, of course our entire system will improve their function as well.
Here are 6 ways you can avoid dry skin during this winter season:
1. Load up on healthy fats.
While the humidity and the weather definitely affects your skin, your internal factors play a huge role as well. Dry skin is a classic sign that your body is deficient in fats. This could be due to two factors: 1) You aren’t eating enough healthy fats, or 2) your body isn’t able to properly digest the fats that you are consuming.
Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the main contributors that keep your skin supple and moisturized from inside out. It keeps the skin from drying out and it’s also anti-inflammatory, assisting in the healing process of irritated skin.
So what should you eat? Load up on wild-caught, deep-sea fish like salmon, sardines, cod, anchovies, and sea bass. Grass fed meats have a good ratio of Omega-3 fats as well, and nuts and avocados also have loads of healthy fats that benefit your skin. When cooking, use healthy nourishing fats like coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, butter, ghee, and animal fats.
If you are having trouble digesting fats, beets and bitters stimulate bile formation, which help us break down the fat in our food. If you would rather supplement, this ox bile can be a great addition to your meals that also helps you feel less bloated.
2. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables rich with nutrients
Carotenoids give fresh produce their deep, bold-colors, and these nutrients, combined with the active form of vitamin A found in these foods, keep our skin young and supple. Carotenoids keep the skin from aging, forming wrinkles, and drying out. Converted vitamin A is especially beneficial for preventing loss of skin’s moisture and it acts as a powerful antioxidant that replenishes nutrients in skin and promotes collagen production. Not only that, fresh produce hold a lot of water, helping to hydrate us internally.
Ideally, choose fruits and veggies that are locally grown and organic, and try to consume a wide variety. I especially love to concentrate on and try out different types of dark leafy greens every time I’m at the farmers market.
3. Avoid sugar and processed foods
High sugar consumption, processed packaged foods, and hydrogenated oils are probably the main source of dehydration in our body and our skin. These foods do the opposite of what fresh fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats do, accelerating the age of our skin and causing wrinkles and acne.
I can definitely tell when I’ve had too much sugar when I wake up with pimples or my skin just looks a bit patchy and grayish. My eyes are even dry after a high sugar meal! When your blood sugar rises above the normal range, the body loses fluid fast and causes poor circulation which can even contribute to itchy skin.
If your gut is also compromised by a high sugar diet and you have yeast overgrowth like candida, this can definitely cause dry skin issues, along with rashes, athletes foot, and itchiness. Always eat a whole food diet, and avoid processed sugars and packaged foods, and you’ll find great improvements in your skin.
4. Moisturize with safe, toxin-free products
Using products with less-than-ideal ingredients like toxic chemicals, parabens, and hormone disruptors actually do more harm than good to not only your skin, but to your internal organs as well. Our skin care products contribute greatly to the toxic overload that all of us face in the modern world. Ignore the clever marketing by the skin care companies and check all products you are thinking of using on EWG’s Skin Deep to find out how much toxins they contain.
Olive oil and coconut oil are great, natural sources for moisturizing the skin. My Homemade Body Butter contain both of these ingredients and it’s so moisturizing and hydrating for the skin.
Don’t feel like making your own? These are some of my favorite Beautycounter products that have made a huge difference on my dry skin:
I use this balm to oil cleanse (learn more about oil cleansing HERE) and it hydrates and takes off my make up at the same time. I really love how luxurious and moisturizing it feels on my skin.
I use this in the morning after I wash my face. Not only does it smell amazing, it contains omega-rich natural oils and vitamin-rich fruit extracts that hydrates and brightens skin. It also has anti-wrinkle properties and my skin definitely feels more nourished after applying this cream.
I think this might be my current favorite Beautycounter product. It’s so luxurious and silky on the skin, without feeling greasy. I use about 4 drops each night and it’s plenty to make a huge difference in how my skin feels in the morning. So hydrating!
And I mean this both internally and externally. As the weather gets drier, it becomes even more important to drink plenty of water. Remember: your skin health reflects your inner health. You need to keep hydrated so your skin can also retain plenty of moisture. How much water is enough? Your daily intake should roughly be: The number that you get when you divide your body weight in lbs in half, that number in ounces is how much you should be drinking each day. For example, a 140-lb person should drink 70 ounces of water daily.
This time of the year is also a great time to invest in a humidifier. Low humidity level not only results in dry skin, but this is also the reason why we get sick so easily in the winter time. It’s great to keep it on throughout the day, but especially important to leave it on at night in the bedroom so your body can heal and detox properly while you sleep.
If your skin is already dry and peeling, exfoliation can be extremely helpful. I love using my homemade coconut coffee body scrub on my body in the shower, because it really helps my skin feel smooth and moist.
However, I don’t recommend physical abrasive exfoliation for everyone on the face where it’s a bit more sensitive. Instead, you can gently exfoliate by using raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar as a toner after you wash your face or use activated charcoal mask. If your skin can handle some more physical exfoliation, Beautycounter’s Nourishing Cream Exfoliator is also a great option.
Dry skin is not just an isolated external issue. You have to heal your body from the inside out with proper nutrition, sleep, and stress management to hydrate and moisturize your skin. Skin care products and other external remedies are supplemental factors that can also help minimize dry, flaky skin in the winter (or any time of the year!). If you have dry skin, you are probably dehydrated or deficient in nutrients. With small changes in your diet and lifestyle, you can make a huge difference on your skin, and soon, you’ll look more beautiful and radiant!
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