7 Tips to Help Winter Skin

Anyone else slathering on the moisturizer lately? The winter season can be hard on our skin, leaving it parched and even itchy. Add that to the damage effects that cancer treatments may have had, and your skin may be in need of some love this time of year.

There are a few factors at play that create this condition, some external, and some internal. Lack of humidity in the air combined with the drying effects of indoor heating are some of the environmental factors that contribute to dry skin in the winter.

There are internal factors to consider as well. Below I give five tips (all of them equally important) to revive and refresh your skin during the wintertime to help reduce the possibility of your face, arms and legs looking and feeling like a desert floor.

1.  Hydrate
In the winter it can be harder to remember to drink plenty of water because we tend to be less active and have the obvious thirst that comes with a more active lifestyle. But that doesn’t mean that your body doesn’t need water. We are 60% water and need to drink on average half our body weight in fluid ounces each day. I just started using a reminder app on my phone that reminds me to drink water throughout the day. There are also water bottles with graphics on them to help you keep track. Whatever reminder you use, get the water in. You will notice plumper skin as well as benefits to many other important bodily functions that are improved with adequate water.

2.  Exfoliate
Do you ever feel like your moisturizer is just sitting on top of your skin, not really being absorbed? Dead skin cells on the top layer of skin act like a sponge for any product we put on our skin, not allowing that product to penetrate deeply. I recommend using a dry body brush on your skin frequently and using a gentle face scrub twice a week to remove that top layer, revealing fresh, radiant skin that easily and deeply absorbs the moisturizer you use. See my blog post about dry brushing.

3.  Moisturize
Not only does it feel like you’re giving your skin a little love by massaging in lotion, using moisturizers can also help protect your skin from the drying effects of winter. Applying a thick, oil based lotion acts as a barrier to the drying effects of the environment. Apply moisturizer immediately after the shower while the skin is still damp to lock in the moisture from the shower. Please use non-toxic and preferably organic moisturizers (I love and use Neal’s Yard Remedies) since what we put on our skin is absorbed into our bodies. Read my blog post about the toxic chemicals in skincare products to avoid.

4.  Humidify
This is obviously a method to combat the dry air that we have during the winter due to indoor heating. There are inexpensive room humidifiers that can make a world of difference in addition to the steam rooms that many gyms have. Adding some moisture to the air will add some moisture to your skin.

5.  Use Less Soap
Soaps are often drying and harsh. We actually don’t need to use soap on most of our skin in our daily showers. Now, hear me out on this! There is growing research that shows there is helpful bacteria on our skin, just like in our gut, that is being washed away with our excessive cleanliness. I’m not advocating skipping showers for the winter (did you know that 300 years ago they only bathed once a year? OMG!) but I think for most daily showers, soap can be used just on the stinky/dirty parts (under arms, groin, feet), leaving the majority of our skin with just a good water rinse to keep that good bacteria intact and with less drying of our skin.

6.  Use Less Hot Water
In the winter it is tempting to stand under the shower in hot water to warm our bones against the chill (and if you’re one of my teenagers this can last for upwards of 30 minutes! But don’t get me started). The problem is that hot water depletes the moisture in our skin more than luke warm water. If you need to warm up, I recommend a far-infrared sauna in the winter as a very beneficial method to warm our bones. Read about the benefits of saunas in my blog post here. Also, exercise is a great method to warm up in the winter. Nothing like getting the blood pumping to heat your body. As my parents liked to tell us kids, “Go run around the rock if you’re cold.”

7.  Bump Up the Collagen
Consider supplementing your diet with collagen since it is the protein that provides the structure of our skin (as well as our connective tissue, hair and nails and is also great for healing the gut). There are several products on the market to choose from. Most are flavorless powders that can be added to your morning coffee or daily smoothie. Another great source of collagen is bone broth, which in the winter can be wonderfully warming. It’s inexpensive to make yourself and has many health benefits, especially for cancer patients. Read here for a great recipe from The Cancer Fighting Cookbook by Rebecca Katz. Adding collagen to your diet will produce noticeable results in your skin, hair and nails in just a few weeks.

Cancer treatments alone can leave your skin damaged and dry. Adding the winter elements can be discouraging that you’ll ever get your old skin back. Give some of these tips a try and let me know your results!

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