WINTER SKIN CARE
After spending the last two hours digging my way out of my home here in New Hampshire (who needs a treadmill!), I'm back inside relaxing and trying to bring my body temperature up to 98 degrees. Thumbing through the latest fashion mags (yes, I am a mag hag, even though I believe in natural skin care), I noticed a new theme running wild this year: dermatologists and big companies distancing themselves from mineral oil. Case in point, "Mineral oil only forms a barrier on the skin and does not nourish it." How interesting - and timely - as this is something natural skin care companies have been trying to point out to consumers for years.
And still wonderfully contradictory statements flourish. One famous magazine actually had on the same page that mineral oil is the best emollient (the technical term for ingredient that 'keeps water from evaporating' or moisturizer); yet, those with extremely dry and chapped skin should avoid mineral oil. Huh? Come again?
So the big companies and others are catching on, that maybe mineral oil is not so great. But they still have to sell their products, so they'll jump on the 'mineral oil' bashing bandwagon.
What to do in the meantime, while we're digging out from the snow, skiing, walking, working, generally outside braving the elements? This year winter, especially in the North East, has returned with a vengeance. Not that I am complaining, since I love winter. But I have been especially vigilant about taking care of my skin - not so much about looking good, but keeping my evil foe eczema at bay. So far so good.
It's the combination of cold & reduced humidity outdoors with the warm & reduced humidity indoors that spells trouble. This unnatural sequence literally 'vacuums' your skin of its natural moisture! Let's get to it with the 'how to' protect and nourish your skin during the next six weeks of winter:
1. Use Foundation that contains Sunscreen. Sensitive skin types should look for a foundation that contains titanium dioxide, a broad-range UV blocker and non-irritant, for the SPF power. Zinc oxide is another excellent sunscreen ingredient. If you don't use foundation, use a natural crème or lotion without mineral oil that also offers SPF protection. Look for the ingredients sweet almond oil, sesame oil, olive oil, squalane, or other vegetable based oils. Glycerin is another good ingredient as it helps attract moisture to the skin. Avocado oil is very rich and is good for this time of year.
2. Use Lip Gloss or Balm from a vegetable oil and beeswax base with Vitamin E. If you enjoy wearing makeup, opt for a cream blush instead of powder. Cream eye shadow vs. powder.
3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate - both inside & out. Drink LOTS of water (herbal tea is great, too) and hydrate your skin with a rich moisturizing crème loaded with natural ingredients this winter. Make sure to moisturize those lips too! Avoid use of alcohol-based toners - but natural hydrosols (floral waters) like rose, lavender, and orange blossom water can be effective hydrators during the winter. Just spray on before moisturizing and use throughout the day.
4. Reduce using your cleanser of choice to once a day - at night to remove makeup. In the morning, a soft mist of hydrosol or splash of warm water is really all you need this time of year.
5. Don't forget to exfoliate - but gently! A great natural exfoliant is using ground oatmeal or ground almonds - do not use scrubs with pumice, apricot kernels or salts! These will just aggravate already dry skin. Quickie recipe: 1 tablespoon oatmeal, 1 tablespoon almond meal, 1 teaspoon corn starch, 5 drops of your essential oils of choice, mix with warm water & you have the goods. Rub gently in a circular motion on your face (already splashed with warm water) and remove with a warm, wet washcloth. Rinse thoroughly and avoid contact with eyes.
6. Limit showers to 5-10 minutes - more than that will strip natural oils from your skin. Resist the urge to take a long hot shower….think of the water and energy you'll save in the process of protecting your skin. Use natural oil based soaps, not detergent/animal fat based products.
7. If your psoriasis or eczema is really flaring up this winter, try taking a periodic bath using Dead Sea Salts. Soak for no more than 15 minutes in lukewarm to warm water, and moisturize after the bath, while your skin is still damp. Avoid products with mineral oil, perfumes or artificial colors.
Stay vigilant by following these tips and you'll keep your skin healthy this winter and many winters to come! The next time you see a Winter Storm approaching, you'll say bring it on! (and make sure to line up some local kids to help dig you out!)
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