Got dry skin? Here are a few natural ways to moisturize.
With the cold winter months about to descend upon us, the heaters are beginning to blow their dry heat and virtually eliminate all but the tiniest drop of moisture in the air. Even if you venture outdoors, the cold temperatures will literally suck all of the humidity from the air out there too. It’s no wonder that every winter my hands look less like skin and more like the sandpaper hanging in my husband’s workshop! Okay, my tendency toward hot showers doesn’t help. But that’s not going to change anytime soon … I think I deserve a little bit of comfort during my least favorite season without flying south for its duration!
Let’s face it, even if you live in a warmer region, chances are that the winter season still reeks some havoc on your skin, even if it’s due simply to a lack of daylight during this time of year. The question is, what really causes it and what can we do about it?
The cause of dry skin can actually be internal!
The interesting thing is that dry skin isn’t always caused by our external environment. I suppose that can be taken as good news for those of us who can’t control our external environment (or at least can’t afford to!) The first and most simple solution can sometimes be to drink more water. Drinking at least a quart and a half of good, filtered water daily is an absolute necessity to keep your cells plump and hydrated. Some argue that 2 quarts should be the daily minimum. And that doesn’t include coffee, tea, soft drinks or juices. As a matter of fact, if you’re a big caffeinated coffee or tea drinker (or soda, for that matter), this may be contributing to the dry skin problem. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means that it actually rids the body of water.
Another possible culprit when it comes to robbing your skin of critical moisture may be a lack of Omega-3 fatty acids from foods like fish, nuts and seeds. These are the “good” fats. At the same time, you should limit the “bad” fats or Omega-6 fatty acids like those found in hydrogenated vegetable oils and many processed foods. If you aren’t a fish eater or if you don’t enjoy eating nuts and seeds like walnuts or sunflower seeds, you can pick up a high quality fish oil supplement that will give you the boost you need.
Coconut oil is an awesome moisturizer!
Finally, you can give your dry skin a run for its money with a natural topical moisturizer. Be careful though. Many moisturizing products that line the shelves today are chock full of chemicals and other artificial ingredients that could do more harm than good. Look for those containing Vitamin A in the form of retinyl palmitate and Vitamin E in in its acetate form so you can be certain it will penetrate the top layer of skin. Or you could try non-hydrogenated coconut oil. This oil works double duty: it provides you with the “good” fats if you ingest it (try substituting your usual cooking oil with this – you’ll love it!); and it will moisturize and heal your skin if you apply it topically! Just be forewarned that, as with anything else, there are many low-quality varieties of coconut oil available, so be certain to purchase a high quality product or many of it’s health benefits may be nullified.
Although the summary above details some of the best ways that I have found to replenish my skin’s moisture, don’t discount the list below, as what works for one person may not work for another, and vice versa.
Additional methods of dry skin relief
- Consume high-sulfur foods such as garlic, onions, asparagus and eggs.
- Steer clear of harsh soaps, creams and cleansers. Believe it or not, many cleansers are made from hydrogenated oils, which can cause free radical damage to the skin, resulting in dryness and wrinkles. A better cleansing option is pure olive, avocado or almond oil. All you have to do is gently pat the oil on, then wash it off with warm water and a soft cloth.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine, as these are have diuretic tendencies so you’ll lose water and essential minerals.
- Don’t smoke! We’ve heard the negatives about smoking, but did you know that nicotine actually constricts the blood vessels, including the tiny capillaries that serve the skin? When that happens your skin doesn’t get enough oxygen or nutrients that it needs for good health.
- Use a humidifier if the humidity in your home is especially low. If you have your heat on all winter, chances are this is the case.
. . . Oh, and I almost forgot. Don’t take hot showers! (okay, so I don’t always follow my own advice ….!!)
Enjoy your day and thanks for checking out this post! Hope it helps!
Balch, Phyllis. Prescription for Nutritional Healing. New York: Avery Publishing, 2000.
Holford, Patrick. The Optimum Nutrition Bible. Berkeley: Crossing Press, 2004.
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