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Winter Dry Skin Tips
by Dave Foreman
Now that we are moving into colder weather, dry skin becomes more of a problem. When we turn on the heat in our homes, the dry winter air plays havoc on our skin. In more severe cases the skin will crack and bleed. I hope after reading this tip you can all avoid problems with dry "winter skin." My dual system approach is designed to get you ahead of the game and help you maintain great skin year round.
When talking about skin, I usually begin with using EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids). With regards to dry skin, you can use either vegetarian products containing flax, borage and Evening Primrose oil or use fish oil like I do. With regards to dry skin, I find that either work just as effective as the other. There are other great health benefits to fish oil that you wont get from a vegetarian source, but for dry skin alone, either is fine. My favorite vegetarian oil is Udo's Perfected Blend (Flora). Because it is a blend of many different plant seeds, I believe it gives you a better balance of Omega-3s and 6s. Fish oil products like Coromega® (my personal favorite) can also provide you with the EFA's needed for healthier skin. Other brands like Nordic Naturals and Carlson will also give you great benefits; I just prefer the packaging and manufacturing practice of Coromega.
On a personal note, many of my friends and family have used EFAs to eliminate winter dry skin and to their amazement it worked better than anything they had ever done in prior years. I find that sometimes it is necessary to take more than the manufacturer's recommended dose during the winter. If you choose to take more, please consult with your healthcare provider for a dose that would be right for you.
Another important supplement for skin health is water. (Why do you think they use the phrase "dried up old person"?) It may sound funny, but most of us don't consume enough water and therefore I call water a supplement. How much depends on you and your activity levels. The bare minimum should be ½ your body weight in ounces of water per day. Example: 150lbs x ½ = 75oz of water/day. If you are an active person, then you will require more. Since your body is made up primarily of water, it is important to make sure you are well hydrated. I have seen many people have wrinkles disappear just by consuming more water alone. Give it a try; your body will thank you.
During the winter, it may be necessary to use a good skin moisturizer several times per day. I suggest applying your moisturizer to your body two times per day. As for your hands, apply after washing and before/after you are exposed to the cold. Luckily, there are a ton of products available to help you beat the winter dryness blues. Many of these topical products contain moisturizing agents such as palm oil, almond oil or shea butter. They even taught us about these in my pharmacy school program. Often herbal extracts will be added to these types of ingredients to achieve other benefits. I usually recommend adding calendula, lavender or chamomile if you have itchy or irritated skin.Adding antioxidants like CoQ10, Green Tea, E, Alpha Lipoic Acid and even berry extracts has become popular now. The belief is that by applying these directly to free radical damaged skin (from sun, chemicals, perfumes etc) you can attack the damage at the point of contact. To date, there is limited research showing that this will work effectively. Having said this, I am still a firm believer in using antioxidants topically to assist in the fight against free radical damage.
The more popular brands of natural products to consider are Aubrey Organics, Kiss My Face, Jason Natural Cosmetics, Burt's Bees, Avalon Natural Products and Tom's of Maine. It may not even be fair to stop at this short list, but you can consult with a store expert for more information on the line of topical products that is appropriate for you.
Finally, take an active role in what your skin is exposed to year round. Chlorine and other chemicals found in your bath/shower water will contribute to your dry skin. Installing a shower water filter is easy to do and will have an immediate impact on your skin. Other helpful ideas are to avoid harsh soaps, harsh chemicals and use a humidifier during the extreme cold months.