As you are likely aware, skin is the body’s largest organ. But it’s not just an even covering all over. From your scalp to your toes, there are different zones, thicknesses and a little “extra” that allows for joint flexibility without tearing (like the cute little folds on top of your finger knuckles and above the kneecap.)
Take your face, for example: did you ever wonder why there are so many eye serums and absolutely no serum, oil, or moisturizer just for the nose or cheeks? Because the skin under and adjacent to the eye corners is thinner and susceptible to showing signs of aging (or being very tired) more quickly and therefore needs a different balance of ingredients than what’s needed for the rest of your face. If you see products for the “T zone,” as another example, it means that it will modulate oil production from the middle forehead, to the nose and chin.
Skin is a dual entity: it serves as a visual attraction (or revulsion), and also for health as a barrier, temperature regulator and toxin eliminator.
Winter is soon to descend and the autumn is ready to turn its mantle over to the frosty season. This means dry and cracked skin. But don’t just slather lotion on and call it a day. Indoor forced heat carouses with the outdoor bitter cold to dehydrate your skin to the point of discomfort, and dullness.
There are natural and easy ways to keep your skin glowing – and functioning optimally – this holiday season. Healthy winter skin starts with the basics.
Hydrate: It is much easier during the hot months to drink water as we tend to crave it to cool down. But drinking water constantly throughout the day during the cold months is critical to keeping skin pliable, supple and moisturized from the inside out. H2O also flushes toxins out. The typical 8, 8-oz. glasses per day is recommended. Of course, you can add fresh squeezed lemon or other citrus or cucumber to add a touch of flavor.
Humidify: That toasty air that enhances the sensation of winter hygge also has a mean streak: it robs moisture out of the environment and out of your skin (it also causes the hair fly-aways). Solution? Buy a humidifier and keep it filled with water. These contraptions emit moisture in the air.
No Hot Showers/Baths: This sounds counter-intuitive as we equate hot water to moisture – but, the intense heat degrades the lipid barrier of your skin, which will release moisture. Try an oatmeal bath. As far back as 1945, compounds in oatmeal have been researched for skin healing and support properties. Oatmeal HABA products use colloidal oatmeal, which, according to a report in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, contains vitamin E, ferulic acid and aventhramides that provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions, so soothing for winter-dried skin.
One study of colloidal oatmeal showed that it lowers pro-inflammatory compounds such as TNF-alpha, nuclear factor kappa B, pro-inflammatory cytokines and histamine as well as arachidonic acid, helping to therefore reduce itch. The study authors noted that in a bath, sprinkle 10CC of oatmeal bath remedy under the running faucet, and enjoy a 15- to 20-minute soak.
Moderate alcohol: This means both intake – and ontake. Many astringents and other topical skin cleansers contain a wide-ranging percentage of alcohol, which is one of the most dehydrating substances around. It’s ok to enjoy your wine, just sip and savor a little more slowly, and ensure the skin products you buy do not contain alcohol, at least for the winter.
Use Sunscreen: The temperatures may be low and the wind MPH high – but that sun is still shining its UVAs and UVBs down upon you, albeit not as strongly as in the summertime. Not only that, but using a product with SPF – protecting your skin from sunrays – every day, 365 can actually stave off signs of visual aging. An Australian study of 903 adults younger than 55 showed that those who used SPF daily showed “no detectable increase in skin aging after 4.5 years.” The authors concluded that regular use of SPF “retards skin aging in healthy, middle-aged men and women.”
How to Stay Skin-sational
There is a virtual bouquet of exciting, natural and sustainable ingredients that are cropping up in myriad skin products that nourish, hydrate and support skin’s barrier function. Here are a few.
Plant Stem Cells: PhyoCellTec™ is a technology that uses plant stem cells for skin support. According to the innovator, “using plant stem cells delays skin aging by protecting vital skin stem cells, keeping the skin looking youthful longer, and giving it a better and more vital appearance.”
PhytoCellTec™ Alp Rose, derived from alpine rose, has been shown in vitro (lab tests) to protect epidermal stem cells from UV stress. Compared to untreated skin stem cells, those that were treated with PhytoCellTec Alp Rose showed an increased colony-forming efficiency to protect against UV rays.
In a human clinical study, 22 volunteers used SPF 30 sunscreen formula during one week of skiing. The volunteers applied sunscreen with the active ingredient on half of the face and control sunscreen on the other. The loss of skin moisture in the face was then measured after another week of treatment at home. The results showed that water loss was reduced by 39% after 2 weeks of applying product containing PhytoCellTec™ Alp Rose. This indicates that PhytoCellTec™ Alp Rose strengthens the skin barrier and makes it more resistant to environmental stresses such as UV, wind, cold temperatures and dryness.
Probiotics: Make no mistake – the microbiome support product market is sizzling – especially products aimed at boosting your skin’s microbiome function, leading to healthy, nourished and appealing skin. Mother Dirt, for example, is a leading and somewhat recently launched brand of skin care for women and men based on its AO+ Mist – Ammonia-Oxidizing Bacteria, a single strain that the company explains was once prevalent in the human skin microbiome but modern hygiene has eliminated. AOB, when applied to skin, is said to consume perspiration as part of a bio-process that maintains the ecosystem balance of the skin. O+ Mist contains a live culture of AOB, and it’s been shown in research to restore balance to skin in 4 weeks.
Paris-based Synbionyme has researched how the skin distinguishes good bacteria from harmful bacteria, and how the beneficial skin flora works to protect skin. . According to the company, the base probiotic it uses is its own Pro-B3 blend of probiotics, prebiotics and omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids . One key species, Staphylocccus epidermidis, a common inhabitant of human skin microbiota, actively contributes to supporting skin barrier function.
This winter, your skin can not only feel luxurious and moist – it can be itch and flake free. It can also serve to better protect you from the elements. Let your skin be merry and bright this season with natural tools from cucumber-infused water, to oatmeal baths, to nourishing probiotics, and daily use of SPF.