by Kidada N. Fields, L.Ac., M.Ac.
Is your skin feeling all dry and cracked this time of year? It’s a common issue during the winter months! There are a few simple things you can do to help prevent chapped lips and dry skin. Components of healthy skin include the balance and free flow of moisture, oil and blood throughout the body. In order to maintain this balance, look at what you are putting into your body as well as what you are applying to your skin. Before you run out and buy expensive lubricants, try these tips to assist you in gaining and maintaining the beautiful skin you deserve.
- Are you getting enough water? Your skin cells depend on water to stay plump, healthy, & supple. The amount of water needed can vary from season to season and from person to person. One theory I adhere to is using one’s body weigh as a guide to determine how much water is needed. Start by dividing your weight in pounds by half. This number tells you how many ounces of water you may need. For example, a woman who weighs 180 lbs, may consider drinking 90 ounces of water a day. There are other theories that say drink when thirsty. You decide what works by paying attention to how your skin looks and feels. Fruits and vegetables are also full of water, so eat up.
- Internal oils are needed for that external glow. There are a few different ways to get needed oils into the body. Omega-3 and Omega-6 are two essential fatty acids that are needed by the body from external sources. Nuts, seeds, leafy green vegetables, & fish are all good sources of Omega 3 and 6. So try snacking on a few almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, pecans, pistachios, cashews, hazel nuts, or macadamia nuts between meals. Chew them well as to extract all their goodness without upsetting your tummy. As always, pay attention to your body as some people are allergic to certain nuts. Flaxseeds, sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds, are chock full of oils & nutrients. Crushed nuts & seeds can be used in place of breadcrumbs, or tossed atop greens & cereals, and any foods that you desire. Flaxseeds are a wonderful boost to blended shakes. Other foods full of good fat are avocados & olives. Avocado can be simply sliced, peeled & eaten or used as a spread or dip. Choose cooking oils that are unsaturated therefore easily accessible to the body for use. Olive, coconut, peanut, & sesame oils are wonderful oils that also add noticeable flavor. Coconut milk is another form of good fat that can be used in cooking. In addition to Omega 3 & Omega 6, Fish Oil is full of Vitamins A & D, which help maintain the skin’s integrity. Try eating salmon, tuna or mackerel with the skin. Because of pollutants, especially mercury, one should always buy from reputable sources and stay abreast on the current mercury contents of fish. If you prefer, try supplements of Cod Liver Oil (use the emulsified form for better absorption), Vitamin E (start with a natural source providing 400 IU for good absorption), Primrose Oil contains essential fatty acids & Lecithin which helps the body absorb essential fats.
- External oils can help you look & smell wonderful. You can create your very own customized skin care product. Start with a good carrier oil. Choose from jojoba (whose composition matches that of the human skin and is easily absorbed), olive, avocado, sweet almond, evening primrose and coconut oils. Then add essential oils of lavender, rose, rosemary, clary sage, geranium, and/or sandalwood. Generally add 15-20 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil. Add Vitamin E (use d-alphatocopherol form) to reduce wrinkling and help fade dark spots. Add Shea Butter for a thicker lubricant. Shea butter has been used to help with numerous skin issues. It is also noted as a natural UV protector. Start light when applying all oils to your skin, especially the face, so that you will not clog your pores. I find that oil absorbs nicely into wet skin, so apply after a show, bath or light misting.
- Baths are a great way to tend to dry skin. Make yourself a warm bath; add a few drops of essential oils or the mix you created from above. Some skin is sensitive, so start small and observe how your body responds. Too much oil can irritate the vagina canal. The good thing about essential oils is that they are naturally plant derived and rarely cause skin reactions. Try adding a pot of Calendula & Comfrey tea to your bath to soften skin. Also, a mixture of honey & oatmeal can be applied directly to problem areas and allowed to sit for 15 minutes before stepping into your lovely bath. Another great way to get water onto the skin is through a mister. Create your own spray mister by adding warm water to a spray bottle and voila! You can always add essential oils of your choosing to boost the effect. Feel free to spray a light mist on your face or dry areas whenever & wherever you desire.
- Water in the air. Heating systems provide great warmth, but can be very drying by reducing the amount of water in the air. In turn, the skin, which absorbs water from the air, suffers. Using a humidifier can really improve your skin’s moisture. Relaxing in a steam room is another way to allow water into the skin so take a few more moments at the gym or spa and enjoy. If you don’t have access to a steam room, no need to worry. Turn on the hot water in your bathroom tub & sink, close the door, and give it a few minutes. You can also create a facial steamer by boiling water or tea (chamomile, calendula, or comfrey) and placing your face above. Turn off the flame once the water is boiling being careful not to burn yourself.
I hope this article helps you on the road to radiantly healthy skin. I welcome any comments – you can contact me at Kidada@womeninwellnessmd.com .