Seasonal Skin Health
Colder temperatures, harsh winds, central heating and dry air reduce Natural Moisturising Factors (NMFs) which can lead to dehydration, flaking skin and rough patches. For dry skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, ‘artificially heated environments’ can actually exacerbate the symptoms. For those suffering with the condition rosacea, sudden changes in temperature e.g. moving from a warm and cosy house to stepping outside on a cold and blustery day, can cause broken capillaries, increasing the appearance of those red cheeks!
Many people, suffering from dryness instinctively reach for their ‘winter moisturiser’ under the misconception that a ‘richer’ cream will provide greater moisture for the skin. In actual fact, this misapprehension can be detrimental to dry skin conditions, impacting adversely on the skins hydration levels. Rich creams ‘trick’ the skin into thinking that there is sufficient moisture, therefore disrupting the natural moisturising process and the balance of NMFs. Depletion of NMFs restricts the ability of the stratum corneum (top layer of skin) to hold water, resulting in symptoms associated with dehydration e.g. dryness, flaking, itching.
It is also very tempting to feel that by ‘scrubbing’ or ‘exfoliating’ the skin, we are removing the ‘dull’ and ‘dry’ layer of skin cells. Whilst the top layer of skin (also sometimes referred to as the ‘horny layer’) is actually made up of dead skin cells, it performs a very important function. When we exfoliate, we remove this extremely delicate and protective layer allowing water to escape. This only acts to further ‘stress’ the system by trying to restore the NMFs. A much safer method is to actually use products with Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) which are much kinder to the skin’s protective layer.
It’s not just about what we apply topically to our skin, but also how we feed and nourish our skin from the inside. When it’s cold outside it can be all too tempting to reach for the comfort of carbohydrate rich and sugary food groups.
It’s important to include healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, oily fish and avocados to help safeguard essential fatty acid levels helping to lock moisture in. For some people, where their diet is lacking in essential fats, it may also be advisable to supplement the diet with fish oils.
Finally, one of the most important things we can do to look after our skin from the inside, is to ensure that we stay hydrated, aiming for 1.5-2 litres of hydrating fluid daily e.g. water, herbal teas or very diluted fruit juices.
NB: Remember to always consult a nutritional therapist or medical practitioner before starting a supplement regime as some medication may be affected with certain supplements.