Natural Remedies for Winter Skin

Credit: Luke Lehrfeld, Flickr Commons

Credit: Luke Lehrfeld, Flickr Commons

The tactics for maintaining healthy winter skin are much the same as during the rest of the year, but exposure to cold, wind, and snow-reflected sun can intensify the damage done to your body’s largest organ.

Banish dry, flaky, itchy skin for the rest of the season with these gentle, simple, and effective natural remedies.Moisturize

Castor oil, the choice of great-grandmothers everywhere, is making a bit of a comeback. This thick, molasses-like oil is highly moisturizing, non-comedogenic, and anti-bacterial, making it a great choice for both cleansing and hydrating.

Castor oil is a great choice for the oil-cleansing method: mix it in equal parts with a carrier oil of your choice, massage into the skin, and steam for several minutes with a hot, wet washcloth. Not only will this help soften the skin, but it will also help in removing blackheads and other debris that can clog pores.

If you’re into homemade masks, now is the time for your kitchen wizardry. Mash an avocado or banana, add a bit of honey or egg yolk, and apply, letting it sit for a half-hour to soften and nourish dry areas. Toss in some turmeric (but be careful because it can stain skin and fabric), for extra anti-inflammatory protection. Greek yogurt also makes an excellent mask that’s gentle enough to be used on a regular basis.

Don’t be afraid to add water to your environment. Crank up the humidifier, and be sure to drink plenty of water to hydrate from the inside out. Take cooler, shorter showers though—hot, streaming water will only dry your skin out faster.

As for supplements, omega-3 oils improve the condition of cellular membranes, allowing cells to properly use osmosis to maintain a healthy fluid balance. Omegasnice_skin_lady also have anti-inflammatory effects that can help improve how the skin looks and feels.

Antioxidant vitamins A, B, C and E work to protect the skin against environmental damage as well.

Exfoliate

When skin is dry and flaky, resist the urge to sandblast off dry skin with harsh exfoliants. Avoid products with rough-edged grains or beads, like apricot kernel. Instead reach for ground oatmeal, a natural exfoliant that’s gentle enough for sensitive winter skin. Work the oatmeal into a paste with a small amount of oil and gently rub it across your face in small circles.

Coffee grounds work in the same way and add an antibacterial boost: gently buff your face with moistened grounds (you can add oil if you like), and remove with a damp washcloth.

Block UV rays

Just because the sun is further away it can seem less critical to wear your daily sunscreen. But blocking UV is just as important in December as it is in July, if not more—snow and ice can reflect and intensify the sun’s rays.

Take a look at the ingredients of any sunblock you choose. Chemical blockers like avobenzone are effective, but are also potential hormone disruptors. Mineral sunscreens that include zinc oxide are your safest bet. Zinc oxide actually reflects harmful UV rays (as opposed to chemical sunscreens which absorb them), sitting on the surface of the skin to keep it safe from damage. Nanotechnology has advanced to the point where smoothing it on your face results in a sheer finish, instead of the pasty look commonly associated with zinc. Some worry about the absorption of nanoparticles into the bloodstream, but safety tests of micronized zinc remain inconclusive.

Due to the trade-offs that come from using mineral or chemical sunscreens, many have turned to natural oils for their sun-blocking properties. The book “Oils of Nature” by Anthony J. O’Lenick looks at the SPF levels of various oils, stating that raspberry seed oil (SPF 28-50) and carrot seed oil (SPF 38-40) are among the most effective. Other oils, like coconut, jojoba, and wheat germ, have lower SPF levels, in about the 4-10 range. These oils are most effective against UVB rays, so keep that in mind during use.

The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.