The winter season is often associated with warm thoughts of thick hearty soups, wrapped in cozy blankets & knit jumpers, and nights spent in front of a fireplace. 

Some of us, however, are not so fond of knowing that the colder months can often bring about dry, flaky, rough, and itchy skin.

 

Why is it that these months of increased moisture and dampness can cause our skin to change? 

 

One of the key reasons is low humidity. Low humidity causes moisture to be drawn out from the skin and evaporated into the at increased rates. When moisture is lost at a rate quicker than it can be replenished, we are left with skin that is less hydrated and dry. 

The activity of sweat and oil glands also slow during this time, which negatively impacts the skin's protective barrier function. Without a healthy barrier layer, water-loss readily occurs. 

Skin texture and appearance can also noticeably change seasonally and results from exposure to drastically fluctuating temperatures. Like moving from a warm indoor space to a cool outdoor climate. This may lead the skin to become red, sensitive, and irritated.

 

So, how do we protect our skin during the winter?

 

Nourishment from the outside

Just as we trade in t-shirts for jumpers during the winter months, our skincare routine must also be cycled and adapt to the changing needs of our skin. Key focuses for the skin during winter are maintenance of the protective barrier layer and moisture retention. As our skin stores 25% of the body's water, ensuring this reservoir is preserved and replenished supports not only the health of the skin but of the entire system.

 

Begin with reviewing current products frequently applied to the face and body. Skin in cooler climates call for the application of rich body oils, butters and balms to act as a nourishing cocoon. Lovely light-weight lotions and creams can simply take a back seat until the wonders of spring begin to blossom.

 

Opting for natural skin care products is even more crucial during winter, as our skin can easily become sensitive and irritated by the elements. Seek products that are made up of natural vegetable bases and ingredients, contain minimal preservatives, and only use gentle natural fragrances.

 

Creating your own body care essentials at home eliminates any risk of not knowing what is inside. DIY body oils are an easy and cost-effective way to make luxurious skin treatments at home which leave the feeling skin soft and supple.

 

Taking the time to slow down and relax for some gentle self-massage is a wonderful treat for the body. Embrace the opportunity (with oiled up palms) to connect back in, using touch to show love and gratitude to our body for all of the wonderful things it allows us to do. 

 

Eating well for good skin

Soft and supple winter skin can be supported by consuming these 3 foods regularly;

 

1. Bone broth is a warm, soul-satisfying addition to any diet looking for a concentrated serving of minerals and amino acids.

 

These minerals and amino acids are important players in the building and maintaining the health of skin cells and are easily absorbed and utilised by the body as they are delivered and consumed in their natural form. Bone broth is also a rich source of collagen, large concentrations of which are found in the skin as it is fundamental to skin structure, flexibility, and strength. The liquid content of this rich broth is a superb way to boost levels of hydration.

Delicious organic bone broth, either homemade or store-bought, can be enjoyed daily simply slurped on its own or added to meals such as soups, stews, and curries. 

 

The versatile chia seed packs in an impressive amount of the essential omega 3 fatty acid ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) for its size. Often forgotten as a rich plant-based source of omegas, these little seeds contain more omega 3 fatty acids per 100 grams than walnuts. Flax and hemp seeds are also rich in ALA.

 

Omega 3 fats are vital components of healthy skin cell membranes, keeping them plump and help lock in moisture. They also combat inflammation which may help in reducing redness and are protective against harmful environmental toxins.

 

2. Chia seeds can be easily added to smoothies, juices or even made into jams for daily consumption. Adding 1 TBSP of chia seeds to a 1L bottle of water is an excellent way to keep hydration levels topped up. 

 

3. Cacao is a delicious ally for overall wellbeing and has also been shown to be beneficial to our skin. Raw cacao is abundant in antioxidant compounds called flavonoids or flavones, which protect our skin against the free radical damage of environmental pollutants, exposure to harsh weather conditions and UV rays.

 

Other mechanisms such as improving epidermal blood flow, increasing photoprotection (against UV rays), and maintained skin cell turn over can be attributed to cacao’s phytochemicals.  

 

The characteristic bitterness of cacao is primarily due to the high levels of flavonoids contained within. So, when it comes to picking the right block of chocolate with your skin health in mind, more bitter equals more-better! 

 

If you want to find out more stop by your local huckleberry to chat with one of our qualified Naturopaths. It's free!

 

 

 

-Article by Naturopath & Herbalist Kate Dalliessi 

 

References:

Scapagnini, G., Davinelli, S., Di Renzo, L., De Lorenzo, A., Olarte, H. H., Micali, G., … Gonzalez, S. (2014). Cocoa Bioactive Compounds: Significance and Potential for the Maintenance of Skin Health. Nutrients6(8), 3202–3213. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu6083202

Ullah, R., Nadeem, M., Khalique, A., Imran, M., Mehmood, S., Javid, A., & Hussain, J. (2016). Nutritional and therapeutic perspectives of Chia (Salvia hispanica L.): a review. Journal of Food Science and Technology53(4), 1750–1758. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-015-1967-0