Katherine and I were in Chicago and Minneapolis last week seeing some of our current and prospective clients.
It was cold. Really cold–and windy.
Since we both like to walk, we bundled up and headed out each a.m. but it took a toll on our skin. We ended up windburned, chapped, itchy and peely. My face hurt to touch it and it was beet red.
When I got home to CA, I vowed to read up on the science of skin and nutrition and what you (and I) can do this winter to help keep skin soft and smooth rather than rough and wrinkly.
Winter Skin 101
Winter weather is harsh and it’s not good for the skin. Cold, dry air outside combined with dry hot air inside sucks the moisture right out of your skin. The good news, however, is that your diet and a few other changes to your daily routine can help keep your skin “glowing” (well glowing may be a stretch…maybe less itchy and not peeling is more appropriate) this winter.
Skin normally has a natural layer of oil that helps protect it from the environment and keeps it soft and supple. When your skin gets dry, it’s generally a sign that you’re doing something that’s stripping it of its natural oils. This could be from washing your skin too much, irritating clothing, not using the right moisturizer or by taking too long (or too many) showers or baths.
10 Best Winter Skin Solutions
- Drink more H20. The last thing you think about in the winter is hydrating with water. However, when it’s cold and dry, the body losses more fluid with each breath, so it’s fairly easy to get dehydrated in the winter. Strive to drink half your body weight in fluid ounces of water every day.
- Eat a balanced diet. Several nutrients are important for keeping your skin healthy including vitamin A, zinc, and essential fatty acids.
- Eat more fruits & veggies. A study looking at the diets of US women and the appearance of their skin found that those who had the most vitamin C and vitamin A-rich foods may help protect the skin against the elements. Vitamin C is found in most fruits and veggies and vitamin A is concentrated in dark leafy greens.
- Focus on healthy fats. The research is not conclusive, but omega-3s and omega-6 fatty acids may help to keep your skin less dry in the winter. Nuts, seeds, avocados and vegetable oils are good sources of omega-6 fats and omega-3s are in fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds. If you’re taking an omega-3 supplement, be sure it provides DHA and EPA.
- Enjoy lean protein. The amino acids in lean protein (poultry, seafood, lean meats) are essential for radiant skin. Strive to get nearly a gram of protein per pound of IDEAL body weight. If you weigh 140 pounds but your ideal weight is 110 pounds, you want to have 100 grams of protein per day.
- Moisturize right. Using moisturizer is key but if you put it on when your skin is dry, it won’t do much good. You need to apply moisturizer when your skin is actually damp. In the winter, go with a richer, heavier moisturizer than what you use in the warmer weather.
- Turn down the thermostat. You can also use a humidifier in your bedroom to help combat the dry eat of your furnace.
- Shield your skin. When going outside, be sure to cover up as much as your skin as possible so it’s not directly exposed to the elements. You can also put a protective barrier over your moisturizer like Aquaphor or what I always have in my ski jacket, Dermatone. When conditions are harsh, you need double protection.
- Skimp on showers. Showers are better for your skin than a bath but keep it short and lukewarm. Hot water feels good but it’s horrible for your skin. Pat yourself dry and apply moisturizer over your entire body when you’re skin is still damp. If you can skip a shower a day or two each week, that’s even better. I workout every day so it makes it hard for me to do this, but I’ve gotten in the habit of not washing my hair as frequently and it’s made a big difference in how shiny and smooth my hair appears.
- Wash gently. There’s no need to scrub your skin in the winter, so just put a mild soap on your skin and avoid using an exfoliating or any abrasive type of sponge or brush.
Julie Upton, MS, RD, CSSD