On The Bench Blog
Winter-proof your skin
Harsh winter weather, central heating and a diet of stodgy comfort food can play havoc with our skin. But follow these steps and have a healthy glow all year round!
After an Autumn that feels like it started in April, Winter has finally arrived. As the temperature outside plummets, the wind begins to bite and central heating is cranked up indoors, our skin often reacts by looking dull, feeling dry and sometimes cracked and sore as well. Not what we want during Christmas party season!
We can't avoid the weather and the effects of central heating but we can take steps to minimise their effect by making changes to our diet and skincare routines.
The easiest and most affordable change we can make is to drink plenty of water. Extremes of temperature have a dehydrating effect on every system of the body so make sure you are drinking two litres of water a day (more if you are playing sport).
Body brushing is a great way of maintaining healthy skin. Use a natural-bristled brush on dry skin and sweep in upward movements to exfoliate whilst also stimulating the circulatory and lymphatic systems which can become sluggish in Winter, especially if we are eating a diet full of rich, fatty, carbohydrate-heavy foods which contain less nutrients, over-burden the digestive system and reduce the efficiency of the blood and lymphatic circulation. To exfoliate the face, use a good quality facial polish once a week. Our skin regenerates every month and if the dead cells are not shed from the surface of the skin, they will clog it up interfering with its protective function which will lead to a dry, dull complexion and, if bacteria and other irritants are able to get in, they will cause inflammation. Gently brushing the body and using an exfoliant on the face will remove these dead cells.
Nourish from the inside
We might eat more fatty foods in the Winter but we rarely get enough of the good fats we really need and consume many of the fats we really don't! Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are not only vital for healthy skin but also improve brain function and support a healthy immune, circulatory and nervous system. It may seem counter-intuitive but a diet rich in EFAs will reduce the appearance of acne and cellulite by promoting healthy, flexible skin cells, promoting healing of skin damaged by pimples and balancing the production of the oily substances sebum and keratin which, when over-produced cause acne. Reduce your intake of rancid fats (in deep-fried and processed foods) and increase your consumption of organic oily fish such as salmon, and organic flax seeds and unroasted and unsalted organic nuts such as walnuts and Brazil nuts. If you want to take a supplement, choose a good quality, organic one such as Nature's Sunshine's Super Omegas or if you are vegetarian try Cytoplan's Flaxseed Oil. Cheap fish oil supplements can contain more harmful ingredients than good ones!
Nourish from the outside
What we put onto our skin is important all year round but when harsh weather conditions come into play, it's even more important. Choose products which are free from harmful chemicals. A product can be labelled 'organic' if 2% or more of its ingredients are from an organic source so check the ingredients carefully! It may contain an organic essential oil for example but be packed with skin-stripping chemicals such as Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), parabens, phthalates and so on. Neal's Yard products are all free from these toxic nasties! And many of their products are rich in exactly the kind of skin-friendly ingredients we need in abundance at this time of year. Here are my personal picks, but if you have a specific problem you would like advice about, please let me know.
- Frankincense Facial Oil - Clinical trials have proven that this blend of nourishing frankincense and omega-rich plant oils moisturises skin for up to 12 hours! It also tones the skin and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Beauty Sleep Concentrate - This lightweight night-time moisturiser is rich in antioxidants to replenish and repair damaged skin, contains calming essential oils to promote a good night's sleep and in clinical trials has been proven to increase the skin's moisture levels by 98% for over 12 hours.
- Calendular & Oat Lotion - This nourishing body lotion is great for dry and sensitive skin. Borage & Evening Primrose oils are rich in essential fatty acids whilst calendula and oat extracts soothe and moisturise.
- Bee Lovely Balm - This is a brilliant little pot of goodness to keep in your handbag or pocket to protect and moisturise lips, to rub through the ends of your hair to protect against the elements or to soften very dry skin and condition nails.
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