Skin dry spell

These winter winds! My freaking face feels like someone yanked the skin tight. My hands are cracked. Every part of.

These winter winds! My freaking face feels like someone yanked the skin tight. My hands are cracked. Every part of my body has had the moisture sucked right out of it. Bleh.

Honestly, though, I know I’m not hardcore enough about my epidermal regimen. I don’t, for example, moisturize after every shower. In fact, I’ve just learned that I shouldn’t even be taking showers. While we’re at it, I wash my hands far too often. (Mild OCD and dry skin go hand in hand!)

And there are, of course, plenty of other things I could be doing.

“Put nutritive herbs like nettles, marshmallow and alfalfa in a Mason jar and cover them with boiling water at bedtime. In the morning, pour the liquid through a sieve into another jar and use as your water bottle. Add a little molasses if you want. For more minerals, add a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar. Do a salt bath once a week to draw toxins out of your skin. Put one to two cups of salt in the water. Don’t use soap. Add oils to the tub. Coconut oil is messy to clean up. Olive oil might be preferred, or plain sesame oil, not toasted. Don’t use essential oils in the tub they’re irritating to eyes and membranes. Calendula extracted in an oil heals skin tissue. Comfrey repairs it, so make a tea and pour it into the bath. Pure shea or cocoa butter and coconut oil are the best moisturizers. If you’re going to use cream on your skin, it should be something you’re willing to eat with a spoon.”

JOHN REDDEN, herbalist, Toronto

“I suggest hydration with lots of filtered water. Most people have forced air heat, which can add to the dryness. Coffee and caffeinated teas dehydrate skin. Fruits are full of minerals, vitamins and water and are excellent. Green leafy vegetables, raw walnuts, ground flax, hemp and chia seeds are high in essential fatty acids and lubricate skin from the inside. Limit sodium intake and increase potassium. Sodium makes your body retain water, causes puffiness and throws the body’s balance off. Potassium keeps cells alkaline and skin hydrated and internally moisturized. Take sea buckthorn berries internally or use sea buckthorn oil externally.”

ARA WISEMAN, nutritionist, Toronto

“It’s a myth that drinking water hydrates your skin. When you drink water, it affects intravascular volume inside your blood vessels, not on your skin. People can have a genetic predisposition to dry skin. Fair people can be more sensitive than those with swarthy, Mediterranean skin types. Get a humidifier for your house, and stop taking showers. They’re more drying than baths. Put oil in the bathwater. Don’t use soap. After your bath, use a moisturizer on wet skin, one that’s heavier. Mineral oil and Vaseline Petroleum Jelly decrease water loss. Applying on wet skin increases absorption. Exfoliating gets rid of dead skin cells but won’t decrease the rate of trans-epidermal water loss.”

LISA KELLETT, dermatologist, Toronto

“Essential fatty acids – fish oils are the most effective – help keep cell membranes soft and permeable, which means nutrients can get into the cell and toxins can leave. Liver support and/or drainage is required to help remove the buildup of toxins. Dandelion, nettle and milk thistle teas can help. Coconut water and juicy fruits are effective hydrators. Dry skin brushing removes dead skin cells, improving the skin’s ability to absorb moisturizers and boosting lymphatic circulation, which helps detoxify cells. Natural oils like coconut or olive are your best moisturizing choices. Commercial creams with high levels of water make your skin feel hydrated initially, but when the water evaporates your skin is left is its original condition.”

STACEY SHILLINGTON, naturopath, Toronto

“People are so afraid of the flu that they wash their hands every five minutes and use hand sanitizer. That’s the worst thing. If you don’t want to get sick, don’t touch your face. When you over-wash your hands, you strip away your skin’s immunity and the outer layers of cells that hold in water and protect you. And you make yourself more prone to infection. Minimize unhealthy foods, sugars, pro-inflammatory foods. Vitamin C is good, but don’t take too much, especially if you’re prone to kidney stones. We’re still learning about vitamin D it has a role in skin care. Vitamin D ointment is used for psoriasis. You can get a blood test to see if you are deficient. Some moisturizers contain ceramides, which are naturally found in the skin. People with atopic dermatitis or eczema may be lacking in ceramides, so products that contain them can be helpful.”

DORIS J. DAY, dermatologist, author of Forget The Facelift: Turn Back The Clock With A Revolutionary Program For Ageless Skin, New York City

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