When the weather is cold the air is drier and this causes our skin to dry out more as well leaving us to experience, dry, flakey, and itchy skin.
There are many products that are marketed specifically to soothe dry skin but many of them contain ingredients that are harmful and can create a bigger problem when used daily. Two of those harmful, yet popular ingredients are mineral oil and water.
This may sound like a harmless ingredient. We need water to stay hydrated, right? Yes, we do need water to stay hydrated. But, water is best on our insides not on our outsides. When water is applied to the skin it generally evaporates before the skin can absorb it. As the water evaporates it also takes with it many of the skins natural oils which over time makes your skin drier. (Or you more dependent on the product.)
If water and oil are both used in a product then an emulsifier is needed as well, to bind the oil and water together. Common emulsifiers in the beauty industry include sodium lauryl sulfate or polyethylene glycols. Both have been classified by the environmental working group as “expected to be toxic or harmful” and to be “human irritant around the eyes and skin.”
Mineral Oil: (AKA) petroleum jelly, petrolatum or mineral paraffins. Mineral oil is a byproduct of the distillation process of petroleum when creating gasoline. That’s the first reason I choose not to use it on my skin. Of course, the mineral oil used in body care and beauty products is “cosmetic grade” and has undergone some purification processes. There are still recent studies that show mineral oil is a contaminant that is harmful to the human body. If you are using it daily in multiple products, you are greatly increasing your risk of contamination.
So why does it make our skin so soft? The interesting reason for the soft and moist feeling it gives to our skin is because it forms an invisible film on the surface that blocks the pores and the skin’s natural respiration process. This is a problem; your skin needs to breath. It’s not benefiting your skin in any way, no nutrients are being absorbed, no hydration is going into the skin. It’s just preventing moisture loss right along with the inability for toxins to escape. This fine film barrier also can also create a warm, moist environment for yeast and fungus to grow.
Transforming Dry Skin from the Inside Out
Hydrate from the Inside Out
During the winter, we tend to drink less, but it’s just as important, especially to keep your skin from getting to dried out. Warm water with lemon is both warming and hydrating. Don’t forget to eat high water content foods like; citrus, celery, cucumbers, carrots, peppers. These are also a great source of vitamin C that will help produce collagen and elastin that help make healthy skin. You can also take a collagen supplement, especially if you are over the age of 40 because as we age our body produces less collagen.
Cut Out the Sugar
Increasing your consumption of vitamin C foods to boost collagen production won’t help if you’re eating too much sugar. Sugar can create a reaction called glycation, which means that the sugar molecules attach themselves to collagen fibers causing them to lose their strength and flexibility which results in the skin becoming less elastic and more vulnerable to sun damage, wrinkles and sagging.
Eat more Fermented Veggies
You may not realize but the quality of your skin is strongly linked to the health of your gut. Boosting a good microflora in the gut has been shown to create a clearer, acne free skin and reduce skin irritations, eczema and psoriasis.
Transforming the Skin from the Outside In
External factors that we can’t control contribute to dry skin, especially in the winter. But there are many things that we can control, especially when it comes to personal habits.
Wash Your Hands with Hydrating Soap
We all know the importance of handwashing. I’m sure you’ve also discovered that washing our hands too often will cause dryness. I recommend using a hydrating, natural ingredient based soap. Soap doesn’t have to be anti-bacterial to reduce the spread of bacteria and viruses wash your hands with plain soap and water is still one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and to prevent spreading germs.
Avoid a Hot Shower
A hot shower may feel extra good in the winter. Choosing a lukewarm shower over a hot shower will help you avoid stripping away many protective oils from the skin. Before you dry off all the way apply a generous amount of coconut oil to your skin. The oil will help transport the extra water sitting on your skin inside and both water and oil with hydrate and nourish your skin.
Hydrate your Home
Heating systems dry out the air so it is a good idea to put moisture back into the air. An easy way to do this is to just place bowls or decorative vases of water around the house to evaporate into the air.
Dry Skin Brushing to the Rescue
Dry Skin brushing will help get rid of flakey skin and will promote circulation of both blood and lymph. Dry skin brushing daily before showering, you will help reduce the severity of flakey and irritated skin. Click here to learn more about dry skin brushing and to get a downloadable diagram and instructions.
Reduce the Soap
I feel like people use too much soap anyway. Our body produces oils that naturally cleanse the skin. There may be days when you feel like soaping down every inch of your body, maybe after a long hard workout or working outside in the dirt. I follow a pattern when I shower and apply soap to my tips (head and feet), pits (armpits need a daily scrub with non-antibacterial soap) and “special parts.” The other areas like arms, legs, neck and torso get a good scrubbing with some homemade Simple Sugar Scrub.