Resolve dry irritated skin, starting with this winter.
Do you struggle with seasonal skin issues? Or year round?
Hydration isn’t just important for your cells and brain. Your skin is also an organ, your largest one and needs to be nourished, especially during the dry, cold season like this one. I personally noticed the difference when I moved to the Southwest from Northeast several years ago. The winters may be milder in terms of temps here and lack of snow, but the dry, cold air is brutal on my skin. So, when the fall season comes around, I go into preparation mode with a gut cleanse, start amping up my oils and dietary modifications.
Do you scratch, itch more often during the night?
Do you feel a burning skin pull when you stretch or lean over?
Do you wear some of your clothes inside out because the seams irritate your skin? (I raised my hand for all three.)
You’re not alone. More and more people suffer from skin irritations; most not realizing that they stem from problems with their internal health.
Winter cold brings out the worst in skin conditions like psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema. Have you noticed how skin irritations flare up even more during stressful events? Chapped lips and dry nail cuticles and feet annoy not only you, but those you touch!
Let’s start here: What Skin Type Are You?
We typically classify our skin type as oily, dry, normal, combo. When we were younger, our skin may have been on the oily or combo side (acne years). But as we age, our tissues lose hydration. Yes, we start drying up from the inside out – our joints crack more, our skin starts to lose turgor (that supple elastic strength you see in people, mostly under 40) If you are over 40, you may be feeling the effects now. Skin issues in younger people could be a result of autoimmune conditions, thyroid/adrenal dysfunction etc or lifestyle habits such as smoking, poor diet, environmental exposures. When I see patients who complain of dry, thinning hair, they usually have dry skin and/or brittle nails.
The Ayurveda of Skin
In a previous article I talked about the Ayurvedic types of your “nails”. Well, there’s an Ayurvedic type in all tissues in the body, including skin. Our constitution (body-mind type) governs our responses to environment and stress. Balancing those responses (according to your constitutional makeup) is the key to good health. Here are a few skin characteristics of each dosha type. I’ll be expanding more on this in future posts and details will be in the upcoming book so look out for announcements!
Vata skin– dry, thin skin, small pores, cracked lips, prone to premature wrinkles, tans easily.
Pitta skin– warm, soft, reddish, large pores in T zone, sensitive skin; prone to rash, hives, burns easily.
Kapha skin – oily, cool, large pores, tans easily.
To learn more about Ayurveda and determine your constitution visit my website and download your free checklist. Once you go through the questions you will have a good idea of your skin type and be able to adjust your diet and lifestyle habits for healthier skin using my upcoming blog articles and book. (I’m so excited for this launch so please stay subscribed and check social media for the announcements!) An Ayurvedic evaluation and consult is integrated into my functional medicine consultations. You can schedule a complimentary phone consult to learn my approach and see if this is a good option for you. Click HERE to book!
This blog is an excerpt of my upcoming Natural Hair, Skin and Nails eBook. I’m going to share with you 5 of my top strategies which help get me through these dreaded, dry winters and help prevent skin aging.
Dr. Melanie’s Top 5 Winter Skin Strategies
- Start with the inside: Your gut needs attention. Drink room temperature water, sip throughout the day. Avoid cold beverages which will dampen your digestive function. Eat healthy fats (avocadoes, nuts, grass fed organic butter, coconut & olive oils, salmon, mackerel)- I can’t stress this enough. Nourish your gut with pre and probiotics. Understanding the relationship between your gut and overall health is one of the secrets to preventing premature aging and promoting longevity. My ebook “Go with Your Gut” describes this link in simple easy terms with recommendations and is available in my online store (lower cost) and also on Amazon.com.
- Cool mist humidifier and steam baths. Because of the extremely dry air in Arizona, I run my humidifier in my bedroom on high one hour before bed, then keep it low speed through the night. Without it, everything else I do gives me suboptimal results.
- Gentle exfoliation 2-3x per week (no more). I mean gentle and not often. You need to slough off the dead skin cells with dry skin brushing before your shower or bath to remove impurities and properly treat the skin. Use a gentle cream foam exfoliant cleanser on your face, neck, decollete (your low neck line at the start of your cleavage, ladies) and other dry areas such as elbows and heels. My favorite is Pacifica Natural beauty’s Rice Bright and for tougher, less sensitive areas a little more abrasive exfoliant from Devita Natural Skin care- their gentle aloe facial scrub. Never over scrub and exfoliate your face especially. Your skin needs to retain it’s own natural protective critters (the good bacteria). I follow up with their Coconut Probiotic cream Water Rehab Cream which is, of course all natural and very hydrating and nourishing (and smells as good as it sounds.)
- Oil up! Coconut, olive and castor oils are my best friends. I use coconut, sesame and castor oils from Banyan Botanicals: coconut oil in my bath, sesame oil on my itchy areas and castor oil directly on any lesions as they appear. Olive oil is my main dietary oil and especially during this season, I drink a tablespoon after dinner.
- Don’t let synthetics and chemicals touch you. Stick with natural products for skin hair and nails. This includes makeup! Avoid drying synthetics and chemical preservatives including perfumes. These will flare up inflammation, may contain gluten and/or they are carcinogenic so be mindful of the long term consequences.
No matter what we do cosmetically whether in a day spa, clinic or home, your skin will ultimately respond to your internal health. You can do whatever is needed to soothe the skin, prevent visible aging, remove wrinkles etc but internal toxins, poor gut health and dehydration will sabotage those efforts gradually and later catches up with you.
One exception is the application of healthy oils in massage therapy and even home self-massage. (See #4 above) They are absorbed into the blood stream and give you the added health benefits in addition to supple skin and healthy glow.
If you have vata skin and joints like me, the dry cold climate is a struggle. You may find relief and a youthful glow in humid tropical weather but your hair could talk back with out of control frizz (the trade- off). It’s all about balance…. and a little compromise for better health and function.
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Stay tuned for articles on the heart, love and personal fulfillment!