As I’m writing this, the snow is lightly kissing the ground and the air has that distinct chill that nearly takes my breath away. Being winter, that air is not only cold, but very dry, so it unkindly evaporates the moisture from the surface of our skin. Many of us see painful cracks in our fingertips…and a few new lines on our faces. The cold, dry air this time of year isn’t the only thing ravaging our skin. Harsh soaps and acne treatments on the outside and diets lacking in essential nutrients on the inside contribute to damage to our most visible organ, leading to dryness, wrinkles, redness, darkened age spots, and even flakiness and scarring. Cosmetics and chemical treatments can temporarily mask the imperfections you see in the mirror, but do nothing to help heal the skin itself. Even those expensive lotions and ointments only work for a few hours at a time.
So what do you do? There’s always a solution close to nature, and I’m going to give you a few easy (and cheap!) ways to improve your skin no matter what season it is where you are.
First and most importantly, eat good fats. Butter, coconut oil, and avocado oil are the best fats to use in your cooking and on your foods to keep your skin plump and glowing. These particular fats are the most easily incorporated into our diets, and have a much lower rate of oxidation. Oxidation is something we constantly want to reduce, which is why we hear so much about antioxidants. Avocadoes are a great thing to eat, since you get the oils combined with vitamins and minerals to get even deeper nourishment to your skin and your whole body. Some people add butter and coconut oil to their coffee in the morning instead of cream, and report great results.
Hydration is key! Keeping plenty of fluids in your cells and circulating around your tissues is important for the overall health and detoxification of your whole body. 3 liters a day is a good general guideline. If you want to do even better, add some lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, since both of these things help your body to be more alkaline and allow water to be better absorbed. Remember that coffee, tea, soda, and alcohol don’t count towards your water intake, and are actually dehydrating, so for each cup of these you have, have an extra cup of water.
Next, make sure you get plenty of vitamins A, E, D, and K. These are the ones that help the cell membranes stay strong and pliable. This is exactly what you want if you’re aiming to keep your skin youthful. Bonus, these vitamins also help fight inflammation and pain, improve vision, and balance hormones.
Last, treat your skin from the outside. There is a trend of using oil free moisturizers, and this is a pretty big problem. Not only does it give your skin the false texture of being moist and healthy by using artificial chemicals, but it also blocks your skin’s natural oil production, which we need to keep our skin healthy and protected. Instead, let’s look at some better options that work with your body’s chemistry. Cocoa butter has been used for centuries to improve skin conditions, and while all we hear about it today is to reduce stretch marks for mama’s pregnant belly, it remains one of the most beneficial treatments for our skin. Smooth a thin layer over the driest spots, especially the delicate thin skin around your eyes that’s prone to wrinkling. Aloe, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, and carrot seed oil are fantastic to see in an (all natural) lotion, or just to use on their own. If you have scarring that you’d like to heal, black seed oil is fantastic, but on its own will not help with moisture, so it’s best to mix with another oil.
If you really want to give your skin a treat, wash your face with a gentle soap and warm water. While your face is still slightly moist, apply a thin layer of honey mixed with cinnamon. Honey is a humectant, which means it tends to pull water out of the air…and in this case, helps to seal it into your skin. Cinnamon is anti-inflammatory, so it will reduce redness and splotchiness, as well as help fight any bacteria that are buried in your pores that contribute to acne. After 15 minutes, gently wash off this sticky masque with warm water and pat dry, then apply a thin layer of an all natural moisturizer or your favorite oil.