Winter is a tough time for skin.
The dry, heated air that cracks our vulnerable skin when we are indoors combines with whipping cold winds that chaff skin when we are outside…
…absolutely no fun if you suffer from chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema or other forms of dermatitis.
The very moment you turn on the heat… yes, even heat from natural heat sources such as wood burning stoves or gas fireplaces… the air dehumidifies and the skin begins to dry out.
Another reason skin gets a double whammy in winter is that not only are the elements harsher and more dehydrating both inside and outside, but we tend to ignore and neglect our skin because it is not on display.
While there are constant discussions, advertisements and products everywhere in the summer to remind us to protect skin from excessive UV exposure, to moisturize our skin, and constant reminder to drink more water in the hot summer months, we tend to completely neglect our skin in the winter. Out of sight, out of mind!
But this neglect is hard on us… our skin is the largest organ we have! Our body is in a constant state of stress trying to repair this organ system if we neglect it.
So right now is the perfect time for a little extra TLC for our skin.
Any skin that has a compromise in the skin barrier function needs the ultimate TLC above and beyond regular skin care needs.
This is especially important in the winter, as any crack in the barrier of our skin can invite inflammation, lead to infection, and even lead to scarring.
To make it through winter with the best skin possible, I recommend these 10 all natural, holistic skin care steps, in addition to any skin care steps your physician or dermatologist recommends to treat your unique skin issues.
My 10 Favorite Winter Skin Care Tips:
1. Protect your skin while outdoors:
Invest in a good pair of gloves to shield your hands from harsh winter elements and a soft scarf to wrap around your delicate nose and lips to prevent windburn and chapping before it begins.
2. Exfoliate with baking soda or dry brush your skin:
Many of us stop exfoliating in winter as our skin isn’t on show as much. But giving your skin a quick daily or even just a weekly exfoliation will sweep away dead skin cells and allow your skin to better absorb your moisturizer afterwards as well.
To exfoliate, simply make a paste by mixing baking soda and a little water in the palm of your hand and us it to gently scrub your skin to remove dead skin cells, or alternatively you can dry brush your skin using a natural bristled brush before stepping in the shower or bath.
3. Soak in honey:
Add a half cup of honey to your bath water to nourish your skin and speed the healing of any winter whipped irritations. Honey is all natural, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, accelerates wound healing and decreases the risk of scarring…. making it the perfect skin supportive, holistic bath soak!
And use warm, not hot water when you bathe.
Even though it is tempting to blast hot water in the shower to warm up, the extra heat strips the skin of its oils more quickly. Keep the bath or shower warm, not hot, stay in the water for less time, and decrease the frequency of your bathing in the winter months.
4. Slather on coconut oil as a whole body moisturizer twice daily:
Morning and night, especially after bathing, use a beautiful, all natural, super healing organic oil directly on skin such as coconut oil or sunflower seed oil (my two favs that are both medically shown to repair the lipid bilayer best.). Oil seals in moisture better than a lotion or cream which both are water based and will not protect skin the way a pure oil will.
5. Protect your nasal mucosa with a humidifier + apply coconut oil to the interior rim of your nose:
Humidifying room air and keeping well-hydrated internally by drinking water copiously will prevent the tendency to develop chapped tight skin and dry, uncomfortable nasal passages. If you only have one humidifier, place it in your bedroom so that you can sleep in a moisturized environment at night.
You can also apply a little coconut oil just inside the nasal openings to help protect your nasal mucosa from drying out!
6. Make organic coconut oil lip balm to use throughout the day:
It’s so easy to whip up your own homemade lip protection, it takes less then one minute and you can even use it as an intensive hand and foot salve.
Simply melt 2 parts coconut oil with one part beeswax (for example, 2 TBSP coconut oil and 1 TBSP beeswax) in a microwave or over a double broiler. Stir and add a few drops of Vit E (I simply snip the end off of a capsule of Vit E and squeeze it right in) and stir again. You can add a drop or two of honey for sweetness (and honey is incredibly skin supportive as a topical treatment for wound healing) and pour the mixture into a clean, recycled container or small jar. Empty skincare jars or mint tins work well.
Use liberally to protect your lips and save them from winter dryness!
7. Moisturize skin from within:
If you are not internally hydrating your body, there is no amount of external moisturizer you can put on your skin that will effectively hydrate it. So all winter long, drink lots of pure, filtered water all day, every day.
This is the water filter I recommend to my patients.
Even though it’s so much easier to remember to stay hydrated in the summer when we are hot and sweating, please don’t ignore your hydration status in the winter when it is every bit as crucial, if not more so. Dry skin is dehydrated skin.
You can also support your skin by eating foods rich in healthy fats that supply your skin with the essential vital nutrients it needs to maintain its crucial lipid bilayer. Take care to consume foods such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, walnuts, almonds, pecans, cashews, pistachios, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, fish, flaxseed and kelp all winter long.
8. Take high quality Omega 3 supplements daily:
Drinking water and eating healthy fats in the winter may not be enough to maintain a healthy skin lipid bilayer, especially if you are prone to dry skin, psoriasis or eczema. I highly recommend taking a high quality Omega 3 supplement daily (for so many reasons, from preserving brain volume to decreasing ADHD symptoms to supporting heart health to keeping your skin supple.)
Find all of my very favorite Omega 3 supplements in my online dispensary right here.
9. Extra sleep:
Take advantage of the longer nights, the soft indirect lighting of winter and the natural urge to hibernate more to repair your sleep deficit and stock up on restorative beauty sleep. This decreases the stress on your body from the inside and out, allows your skin to repair more easily, giving your complexion a natural boost!
10. Re-evaluate your boundaries:
Your skin is always speaking to you.
Skin can speak subtly through chronic messages that it whispers to you your entire life… or skin can scream loudly and angrily during acute transitions and times of crisis.
Because our skin replicates so quickly, it is a wonderful mirror for what is going on with the rest of our body and mind:
- If we are anemic, it shows us quickly.
- If we are dehydrated, it shows us quickly.
- If we are malnourished, our skin will lack that robust glow that healthy skin gives.
- If we have been neglecting our selves in other ways, our skin will reveal us.
- If we are unhappy, our skin literally sags.
- If we have lost connection with joy, our skin tells it.
- If we feel ugly, our skin mirrors that.
And because it covers our entire body, every thought we think and every word we say and every intention we ever have passes through our skin on its way to communicate with the outside world.
So it doesn’t just protect us from the world… quite the opposite is true too: it translates our inner being to the surface. It shows the world what is going on inside of us.
It is constantly in contact with and intimate with our inner workings. Because of this, skin reflects how we feel about ourselves.
Skin forms our barrier, our identity. It forms what we perceive as *us* and delineates *us* from *the rest of the world*. Skin is our outer projection of our inner truths.
In short, skin represents our personal boundary.
And every winter… during the darkest, coldest months, we get an invitation to go inward re-evaluate our boundaries before we emerge this coming spring fresh and new. Grab a journal or get into an open meditative mindframe and ask yourself:
- Are you grinning and bearing something that you’d secretly like to say a firm â€œnoâ€ to?
- Are you letting someone in your energy space that constantly irritates or drains you?
- Do you need to set some healthy boundaries at work?
- Do you need to set clearer boundaries around your time? We all have the same 24 hours in a day, but if you are doing activities you don’t feel aligned with or tending to emotional needs of others constantly, you will find much of that time will disappear and you won’t even know where it all went.
- Do you have a friendship that needs some boundaries clarified and strengthened?
- Do you have a family member that you need to create firmer boundaries and consequences of boundary violations with?
- Do you need more personal space when you are home? Do you have a place where it’s clear to everyone sharing your home that they are not to disturb you?
- Do you need to set boundaries in your sexual relationships?
Double-check that you say no when you need to and have clear boundaries that allow you to do what you truly want to do and enjoy that without guilt.
If you are sucking it up in any area of your life and just putting a smile on your face, your body feels this. Your skin will be working over time to set a boundary that you are failing to make for yourself.
There is no way your skin should be having to set boundaries that you aren’t setting for yourself.
If you find your skin is stressed out, ask yourself what boundaries need to be strengthened in your life and meanwhile give your skin a little TLC with the other 9 steps listed above and watch the energy shift and your skin improve dramatically.
To your beautiful, radiant, ever repairing body boundary… your skin!