Cold weather, windy days, the cracking dryness of a heated house; all these perils and more await your skin as Winter approaches.
Keep your skin supple and soft—and protect your immunity—with these 5 important tips!
Hydrate from the Inside Out.
There’s no way to fill in wrinkles and cracks in skin that’s desperate for water.
While some water is absorbed through the skin while bathing, most of it gets in through your mouth, via your bloodstream. Downing glasses of ice water is unappealing in Winter for good reason—the cold dampens your digestive fire, causing bloating, rashes, acne and poor absorption of nutrients.
Instead, take frequent sips of room temperature water, nourishing herbal infusions or warm tea throughout the day. Keeping a water bottle or favorite glass handy is a good way to make sure you can drink when you think of it.
Once your skin is getting good hydration from within, make sure it stays in there! Seal in moisture with a good salve or moisturizer. Apply to damp skin if possible, but use it!
Our go-to is our Care Worn Hand Salve. We use it all over, including our faces. It can feel greasy at first, but absorbs in just a few minutes, providing the best protection we could hope for!
If your skin is naturally very oily, you may be able to get by with your natural lubrication, but for beauty’s sake, don’t dry your skin’s natural oils with toners and oil-free moisturizers! Your skin will fight back with more oil, and the combination could very well clog pores. Oil and oil mix well, so applying a good, nourishing salve, like our Care Worn Hand Salve or Plain Plantain Salve to your skin will keep it clear and soft.
A lot of moisturizers available in drug stores contain carcinogenic or otherwise harmful chemicals. Check https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ and enter either the name of a brand you like to use or the name of a specific ingredient you want more info on. They have a simple to use, easy to understand system for rating ingredients and explaining the possible dangers.
The best moisturizers, like the ones we make, have no dangerous preservatives. This means the shelf life is fairly short because unlike salves, which are 100% oils and wax, moisturizers combine oil and water, which can go rancid if not used in 3 months. However, if you don’t go through 2oz of moisturizer from December to February, you’re not moisturizing enough! Because we make them in such small batches, we don’t always bother putting them on the website. Come out to Warm Springs Herbal, our roadside apothecary, or email email@example.com to see what’s fresh right now!
The Multi Million dollar personal care industry would have you believe that daily showers will improve your personal hygiene. But wise women everywhere know what science is just discovering: our bodies are in complex balance, and while some washing is good, too much is too much.
Micro-biome is the hip new word for the incredible diversity of tiny life forms we cant see and can’t live without. They’re on our skin and scalps, in our mucous membranes, and all throughout our digestive tracts, and when they’re happy, we’re happy. Literally.
Research has shown that disturbances in the micro-biome can be felt as depression, amongst other possible manifestations. Overdoing clean can be the source of such a disturbance. That’s why anti-bacterial soap is not recommended for every day use. Essential oils are also anti-microbial, and should be used with extreme caution.
But when you’re ready for your weekly winter bath, make it count! Use water as hot as you want to shower or soak in (add our Profundo Bath Salts for a super luxurious soak, or exfoliate with our Winter Sun Sugar Scrub to polish away dead skin!) but make sure you finish with a cold rinse!
Hot water opens your pores. This is great for releasing metabolic wastes (called “toxins” in some circles), but if you leave your pores open, your skin will dry out quick! Plus, elasticity is lost when pores are left hanging open like that, even in Summer.
So after your 15-20 minute bath or shower, before you get out and gently towel off, step out of the stream of water, turn to cold (or at least cool) and step back in. The cold water will cause your pores to shrink and the capillaries in your skin to constrict, which will improve skin tone and elasticity, while helping to seal in moisture. Want to give your skin extra resiliency? Go from hot to cold a few times. Each time your pores open and close, elasticity and tone improve. I’ve also found it’s easier to go from warm to tepid, then hot to cool, finishing off with hot to cold.
Dress for Success
What you wear on a hike to a windy peak should be different from what you wear to run errands. It’s tempting to buy (or scavenge!) super-sub-zero gear, but skin that’s marinating in sweat all day is not healthy or happy.
We think of Winter as cold, but the indoor temperatures in many homes and businesses climb into the 80s. That’s fine in shorts or even jeans and a t shirt, but when you have on silk long johns under your flannel lined cargo pants, it’s going to get uncomfortable. What’s worse, if you get sweaty indoors and then go out into freezing or near freezing temperatures, you risk damaging not only your skin but your muscles and even your immunity.
Layers, layers, layers. Super warm under-layers are fabulous when you need mobility outdoors, but very hard to remove when going in and out. Instead, try a lightweight wool or fleece sweater. And no matter how much you like to show off your stuff, Winter is not the time. Cold air on your belly is not any better for your kidneys, uterus (if you were blessed with one) or digestive organs than cold air on your chest is for your lungs. Wear skimpy under-layers for when you’re inside, no problem. But make sure something on your body is tunic-length, and befriend a few nice scarves.
Last but not least, don’t shun the Winter Sun! Or the Snow or Wind for that Matter
Our bodies need sunlight to regulate our moods and sleep schedules, as well as for Vitamin D production. Even if you supplement with Vitamin D, your body will process it better if it’s also producing its own.
Sunscreen is not necessary in Winter unless you’re going to be in full sun for hours mid day. The angle of the sun in winter is such that it just does not hit us that strongly. The benefits of 20-30 minutes of sun on your skin, especially exposed face and arms, far outweigh the drawbacks. Unless it’s going to cause frostbite. Don’t get that.
Frostbite is generally caused by wet, cold extremities. Cotton is a wonderful material, but dangerous in winter, as it does not provide any warmth when wet, but leaves sweat or precipitation on skin, potentially causing frostbite. Keeping wool socks and leather or synthetic gloves in your car is a great move, along with your friend, the scarf. One of our buddies discovered this the hard way when his car got stuck in a snowdrift last year.
If you suspect frostbite (changes in color or sensation of skin, especially fingers, toes, ears or nose) call a doctor! In the earliest stages (frostnip), you can rewarm skin without permanent damage. After that though, skin damage is almost guaranteed unless rewarming happens carefully and slowly, and unless you’re 100% sure you know what you’re doing, leave the heat off in the car and drive to the nearest hospital or minute clinic.
Fortunately, frostbite is extremely rare.
Humans have been living in extreme climates for millennia. You’ll be happier and healthier using these simple tips to keep your skin strong while enjoying the weather!