Reduced humidity combined with colder temperatures tends to wreak havoc on your skin. Many suffer with dry, scaly, itchy skin during winter months even if they don’t have a diagnosable skin problem like eczema. This is commonly referred to as “winter itch,” caused when your skin is depleted of moisture. Fortunately, there are simple and inexpensive remedies for this problem.
It’s important to remember that your skin is the largest organ of your body, and nearly everything you put on it is readily absorbed. Therefore, avoiding slathering anything on your skin that you wouldn’t consider eating is rather sage advice.
Previous research has shown that women absorb an estimated five pounds of chemicals a year just from the makeup they use! Here are two effective remedies against dry, itchy winter skin:
- Getting sufficient amounts of animal-based omega-3 fats in your diet, and
- Using coconut oil to moisturize your skin
Dry Skin—a Sign of Omega-3 Deficiency
Your skin is an outer reflection of your insides, so your diet is a potent ally against most skin problems. When it comes to dry, flaky skin, animal-based omega-3 fat, such as krill oil, can play a very important role. Besides drinking plenty of water, it may be one of the best ways to hydrate your skin from the inside out.
In fact, one reliable way to evaluate your omega-3 status is to take a close look at your hands. If they’re smooth and soft, you’re probably getting enough omega-3 fat in your diet. If they’re not, or if other areas of your skin are dry, flaking or cracked, there is a good chance you need to increase your omega-3 intake.
Omega-3 fats help to normalize your skin fats and prevent dehydration in your cells. This keeps your skin cells strong and full of moisture, which can help to decrease the appearance of fine lines. Omega-3 fats can also help calm irritated skin, giving you a clearer, smoother complexion courtesy of its anti-inflammatory activity.
So, as a first step, if you struggle with dry skin, make sure you are taking enough omega-3 fats. In the colder dry winter months, you may need to increase your dose.
Other Dietary Measures that Promote Healthy, Moisturized Skin
Besides increasing your omega-3 intake, you’d be wise to address the rest of your diet as well. Eating a healthy diet as described in my nutrition plan, which focuses on whole, bioavailable organic foods, is your number one strategy for helping your body detox naturally while supplying the necessary nutrients your skin needs to thrive.
Some foods are particularly effective at promoting beautiful, clear, healthyskin, and this includes:
Fresh vegetables: Ideally fresh, organic and locally grown. Fresh vegetable juice is also wonderful for your skin, as are carotenoids, which give red, orange and yellow fruits their color. Studies have shown that eating foods with these deeply colored pigments can actually make your face look healthier than being tanned.
Fermented vegetables: Many don’t realize this, but the health and quality of your skin is strongly linked to the health of your gut. Fermented vegetables are ideal for promoting the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria.
Signals from these gut microorganisms are sent throughout your body—they even interact with organisms in your skin. Researchers are now looking into how these interactions can help with a wide variety of skin conditions, including dryness and poor collagen production. Normalizing your gut microflora has been shown to help against skin irritations and chronic skin problems like eczema and psoriasis.
The bacterial cells living in and on your body outnumber human cells by 10 to 1. Even after you wash, there are still 1 million bacteria living on every square centimeter of your skin. Far from being your enemy, these microorganisms are essential for optimal health and radiant skin. The bacteria on your inner elbow, for instance, process the raw fats it produces, which helps moisturize your skin.
Optimizing your gut bacteria has even been shown to produce clearer, acne-free skin. If you do not regularly consume fermented foods, then a high quality probiotics is definitely recommended.
Avoiding sugars, fructose, grains, and processed foods: This is perhaps the most important step you can take to improve your overall skin health regardless of the season. If you eliminate all sugars, fructose and grains from your diet for a few weeks there you would likely notice rapid improvement in your complexion. Processed foods, trans fats, processed table salt, and pasteurized dairy products can also have a detrimental impact on your skin.
Avoiding these foods will improve insulin sensitivity, which is important for overall health, including your heart health. Interestingly, recent research2shows that the perceived age of a woman’s face, based on wrinkle measurements and complexion can help predict her risk for high blood pressure and heart disease. Those who looked more youthful, with fewer wrinkles, also had lower blood pressure and reduced risk for heart disease.
A 5-Step Shower Routine for Tackling Dry Skin
Removing excess skin flaking can help reveal more glowing skin underneath. The following routine can help you accomplish that without harsh chemicals:
1. Dry brush your skin prior to getting wet using a body brush. This will help get rid of loose flaky skin
2. Avoid using soap or use the least amount possible, especially in the winter or in dry climates, as that will tend to worsen your dry skin
3. Instead, apply a natural body scrub to exfoliate your skin (also apply this to your skin before getting wet, and choose one that also contains oil to moisturize)
4. Hot showers can worsen dry skin so take the coldest shower you can tolerate
5. After your shower, apply a heavy natural body butter or natural moisturizing oil (not mineral oil or baby oil) to help seal in moisture. As mentioned earlier, organic coconut oil is an ideal choice