Dry Skin Care

As always, we can only look good on the outside if we start with the inside. The cold winter days often see us feasting on richer, comfort foods, and while it is necessary to build up the body's strength against the elements we can certainly overdo it, leaving our digestive system in sluggish mode and unable to clear toxins and promote energy. All the usual suspects (saturated fats, refined sugars, too much salt, caffeine and cigarettes) should be avoided, or in the case of saturated fats, not overdone. Despite the desire to eat warming foods, it is important to keep up your intake of raw fruit, salad and vegetables as they are the best sources of essential vitamins and minerals.

A deficiency in vitamin C can lead to broken veins, which we are already more susceptible to in the winter months because of temperature extremes, and vitamin A is a great preventative against scaly skin and acne.

Flavonoids (found in yellow and orange fruit and vegetables, garlic, sage and thyme, amongst other things), not only help in the absorption of vitamin C, but are also important for the manufacture of new collagen and elastin, and at a time when cell renewal is often slowed, they are invaluable for healthy looking skin.

Essential fatty acids (from oily fish or borage, starflower and evening primrose supplements) will strengthen the cell membranes and allow a much better retention of moisture by our skin.

And last, but by no means least, it is essential that we continue to drink plenty of water. Even though we may not feel the need to as much as in the summer, central heating in particular is incredibly dehydrating, and we need at least 1.5 liters of water each day to flush the toxins from our bodies.

Keep on moving

Exercise is especially important in the winter months, though with the inclement English weather, it's often not at the top of our 'to do' lists. But exercise not only makes us look and feel better, it increases the blood flow around our bodies aiding in the elimination of toxins and the delivery of essential nutrients. Now is the time to join the gym, or take up yoga, getting the benefits of exercise and an excuse to stay in from the cold.

Winter exfoliation

Continuing the theme of stimulating sluggish cells, exfoliation is an important part of a winter skincare regime. For your face, a gentle exfoliator (made with synthetic spherical exfoliating balls) is perfect, as reduced sweating and more sensitized skin mean tough exfoliators are not needed. For your body, dry brushing at least once a week will help remove dead skin cells and again stimulate blood flow to your skin.

Perhaps the most damaging aspect of the winter months is the constant change in temperature. These rapid fluctuations can cause broken capillaries, and skincare and make-up advisor Amanda Jackson-Sytner advises that you make this transition as slowly as possible. 'On cold days shield your face with a silk scarf, balaclava or the collar of your coat to reduce the impact of the impact of cold and wind on your skin'. Another way to combat this is to only turn your central heating on when you return home (as opposed to setting the timer for prior to your return), this slower change of temperature will benefit your skin. Heavier moisturizers also act as a barrier against the harsher effects of the wind.

If you spend a lot of time outside in the winter it's important to remember that the winter sun can still be quite harsh, particularly if you are soaking it up on a ski slope, where its damaging effect is doubled by the reflection from the snow. Make sure that you use a high factor suncream and a good antioxidant-packed aftersun to combat any damage.

Moisturization

Extra moisture is perhaps the greatest need for skin in the winter. Two areas that we often neglect are our hands and our lips. Make sure that you keep a small tube of hand cream with you at all times, a good tip is to smear some on before you put gloves on to go out - the heat from the gloves will enhance absorption. Amanda Jackson-Sytner recommends having lots of lip balms for winter protection; 'Keep them in coat pockets, handbags, on your desk and in the glove compartment, so you are never without', she advises. 'Once lips dry out and crack they are hard to repair'. A decent lip balm (honey and calendula are good ingredients to look out for) also makes a good emergency protector for the face, and will add an extra shine to your cheeks.

To make a winter moisturizer tailored to your skin's needs, start with 20ml of a base moisturizer (the most simple, unfragranced and chemical-free that you can find), 20ml of wheatgerm or peach kernel oil (dry and normal skin) or 20ml of soya oil (combination and oily skin), and add one or two drops of the essential oils listed below, using up to four different oils. Never apply essential oils direct to the skin as all but a few can cause irritation, also moisturizers containing extracts from citrus fruits or blossoms should not be used before exposure to the sun.

Dry/ageing skin - sweet almond, palmarosa, myrrh, lavender, wheatgerm, macadamia nut, chamomile, sandalwood, rosewood, rose

combination skin - geranium, apricot kernel, grapeseed, safflower, ylang ylang, bergamot, jasmine, lavender, rose

spot-prone skin - frankincense, tea tree, lavender, peppermint, jojoba, eucalyptus, cypress, patchouli, clary sage

normal/sensitive skin - neroli, rose, lavender, geranium, chamomile, bergamot

oily - soya bean, apricot kernel, grapeseed, orange, sage, cypress, tea tree, rosemary


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