Harsh cold winter weather and everyday stress can play havoc with our skin. Our once plump, radiant and hydrated skin takes on a dull, crepy and often compromised appearance.
The focus for skin in the winter is to hydrate and heal both internally and externally. At any time of the year, a compromised lipid barrier can create dry, irritated skin. When the cool, dry weather arrives, dry skin becomes far more irritated, red, rough and dry. Those people with naturally dry skin lack a strong lipid barrier, which leads to dehydration and water loss. This means these people do not have enough lipids to maintain optimal skin health. To understand why treating the skin effectively with a depleted lipid barrier, it is important to understand what the lipids do within the skin. Lipids can be compared to the “mortar” between the skin’s “bricks”, or corneocytes. Our outer most layer of skin, the stratum corneum, is where the lipid barrier is found. It is the skin’s first line of defence against external and internal factors that can affect skin dryness. To help prevent excess water loss and to protect against the assault of UV radiation, heat, cold and environmental irritants, a very strong lipid barrier is paramount. Visually, a compromised lipid barrier will result in the skin appearing flaky, dry, dull, and having fine dehydration lines. This then means the skin is more susceptible to environmental assault and signs of premature ageing. Besides a low natural oil balance in the skin, creating a compromised lipid barrier, there are other factors affecting this.
One of the main causes is environmental winter conditions with low humidity and temperature – we then tend to turn up the heating inside and have our showers hotter, which will increase the dryness. Other factors may be using the incorrect homecare, over-exfoliating of the face and body skin, dietary changes such as reducing the fat content in our diet, ageing and hormonal changes, UV exposure, stress and some diseases. To build up our natural lipid barrier internally, we can address dietary requirements. This may include the addition of avocado, wild salmon, more water (when the heat dissipates so does our water consumption), fruit (such as berries, grapefruit and bananas) and vegetables (such as cucumber and squash which is an excellent source of beta carotene).
This winter, we can build a healthy, glowing skin with the external application of products rich in plant oils, ceramides and essential fatty acids. We can also look to orange peel oil (a natural source of Vitamin C and is helpful for sensitive or irritated skin), clove (used for detoxification and to stimulate the circulatory system), turmeric (one of the most powerful antioxidants from nature and protects from environmental damaging elements), cinnamon (stimulates, is antibacterial, antifungal and is a powerful antioxidant), paprika (revitalizes and oxygenates), arctic cranberry (contains phytochemicals such as vitamin B6, benzoic acid, lutein and proanthocyanidins, which are responsible for the fruit’s high anti-inflammatory and antioxidant content), bergamot (is a balancing oil providing toning properties), white ginger(stimulates the circulation and aids in combatting skin disease) and black spruce (provides purifying and cleansing properties).
This winter make it one of your goals to maintain a healthy lipid barrier, good internal and external hydration and a healthy circulatory system. In the cold, dry months, we can achieve this and will not only feel better on the inside but our largest organ, our skin on the outside, will take on the appearance of health and vitality.
What are the needs of dry skin? For all the complex factors that can influence dry skin and lipid barrier recovery, the solution is relatively simple: focus your skincare regimen around products that nourish your lipid barrier. Be on the look out for products that are high in plant-oils and contain ingredients like ceramides, fatty acids (e.g., Stearic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Myristic Acid), and sterols.