Sunday, November 24, 2013

Winter Skincare Survival

Chilly Winter weather can contribute to making our skin become dry and even irritated which can be pretty uncomfortable and well…not very pretty!  It's not just about esthetics and comfort either. Well-hydrated skin provides a protective barrier made up of our bodies own lipids that keeps out infectious bacteria, viruses and fungi.

There are skin-saving steps you can take to protect your lipid barrier and keep your skin functioning well and looking and feeling it's best even during the coldest winter weather.

There are two types of dryness our skin can experience: Lipid dryness: Lipids are oily substances our skin produces naturally. When the skin is lipid deficient, water escapes from our skin and causes dehydration which is another type of dryness.  This is called TEWL Trans Epidermal Water Loss. When we have a well functioning lipid barrier it will bind with water and our skin will look and feel hydrated and function properly.  When our skin gets very dry and dehydrated it can develop microscopic cracks in the dermis which can be pathways for bacteria to get in and cause inflammation and thus even if you have dry skin and especially if it's dehydrated you can suffer from acne, eczema, dermatitis, etc. Sometimes these conditions can be reversed by simply getting your skin to its proper hydration levels.

Hydration is important for the skin's health but also of course for our appearance. When our skin is dehydrated it can develop fine lines especially around the eyes and lips where the skin is naturally thinner and has less oil glands. Dry and dehydrated skin will be more droopy and saggy, will look older and wrinkles will appear deeper.

What to do?
Skin Saving Tip 1:
Use a more moisturizing day and night cream.  If you use a light lotion you might consider a cream in the winter season. It's especially important to use a more hydrating night cream since while we are sleeping our body and our skin of course, being the largest organ of our body, becomes dehydrated. You want to look for a moisturizer with ingredients such as lipids, grape seed extract, hylauronic acid, polyhydroxy acids, etc.

Skin Saving Tip 2:
Avoid extremely hot showers or baths - lukewarm is best and use a creamy/milky cleanser instead of a soap based one. The cream cleansers will still clean your skin but won't strip your lipid barrier. Try taking a milk bath once a week since the natural lactic acid in milk exfoliates a little but also binds moisture to the skin. You can add a couple drops of your favorite essential oil like Jasmine or Lavender for added aromatherapy and therapeutic relaxation benefits. Don't forget to apply moisturizer on slightly damp skin to lock in that moisture.

Skin Saving Tip 3:
Consider adding a Serum to your regimen. Serums are liquid and penetrate the skin very well and then you apply your moisturizer over it. During the day a serum with Green Tea, Plant stem cells, Grapeseed  Extract, Algae Extract, etc. and at night a collagen boosting serum with peptides, hylauronic acid and if you are really dry a serum with some lipids. I call serums the "green juice of skincare" because they have so many active ingredients and are easily assimilated into the skin like drinking a big glass of celery/cucumber/spinach juice - lot's of nutrients going to all of your cells.

Skin Saving Tip 4:
Don't forget to wear an eye cream day and night - during the day to protect and at night to heal.  The skin around the eyes is the thinnest on the body and there aren't any oil glands. Also, very cold winter weather can make your eyes tear and the salty tears can dehydrate the thin sensitive skin around the eyes. Your eye cream should be richer than the other creams you use and it's important to use a cream that's specifically formulated for the eye area.  I like eye creams with no fragrance or color additives, since those can be irritating. You should be able to apply an eye cream all the way to the lash line on upper and lower lids as well.

Skin Saving Tip 5:
You may want to hold off on using your toners and astringents that have a high level of alcohol in them during cold weather months. The alcohol can dehydrate and really dry out the lipid barrier. The toners may be more necessary in the summer when your oil/sweat glands are more active. There are great toners that are alcohol free and contain hydrating ingredients such as hylauronic acid, rosewater, polyhydroxys, etc.

Skin Saving Tip 6:
Keep your lips kissably soft!  Honey is a great moisturizer, since it has natural humectants and natural sugars which gently exfoliate. You can take a little brown sugar and mix it with a dab of honey or olive oil for a gentle lip scrub. Try to stay clear of petroleum based products for lips since it's an occlusive ingredient no moisture can get in or out and you will become dependent on wearing it for your lips to feel moisturized.

What are some of your favorite tips to keep your skin feeling and looking good in the cold?

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