If you’ve got finicky skin, the changing of the seasons can be a touchy subject.
For some, it’s cold and dry conditions in the winter that have us itching for relief. For others, the summer heat is the nemesis that sucks the moisture right out of the skin. And then there’s those with dry skin all year long regardless of the season.
No matter what the weather forecast is, the simple loss of skin moisture can set off a chain reaction of chapping, cracking, itching, and inflammation. Not to mention, it’s just not attractive.
With a plethora of skin moisturizers available, it’s so easy to slather on whatever is on hand – and most households probably have a few bottles collected over the years, because let’s face it, lotion doesn’t expire if it’s loaded with chemicals and preservatives. And it just so happens that these are the worst kind of products you shouldn’t be using.
By now you’ve heard of the importance of scrutinizing nutrition labels of the foods you eat. And even if you don’t do it, you know you should. This is the same careful deliberation that you should be following when it comes to skin care products. You might not be ingesting them, but the ingredients still end up inside you and the body has to figure out how to process them. And that means more work for the liver and kidneys to filter out the nasties.
The skin is like a porous film covering the more fragile tissues of the body. It acts as the first line of defense to many everyday dangers, but the skin is not impenetrable. All those pores make a sponge-like surface that is vulnerable to environmental pollution and topically applied chemical toxins that get absorbed into the bloodstream where they’re free to circulate within the body.
So if you’re applying moisturizers containing ingredients that read like a chemistry experiment (meaning you haven’t heard of them or you can’t pronounce them), you can bet that you’re deliberately poisoning your body.
What can you do to take back your skin without sacrificing your health?
Nourish Your Skin From Within
One of the best ways to improve the health of your skin is to be sure you’re getting your omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s support the skin’s healthy inflammatory response which is important to virtually all aspects of clear, healthy skin. And the fatty acids are like natural moisturizers that hydrate dry skin from the inside out.
Omega-3s are important all year long, but during the colder, dryer months, you may need to increase your intake of omega-3 rich foods, like oily fish, walnuts, and chia seeds, or up your dose of an omega-3 supplement .
Avoid Toxins From Skin Care Products
A sure way to deliberate the safety of a skin care product is to ask yourself if you would knowingly put the same ingredients into your mouth. If the answer is no, find another brand that uses ingredients found in nature, not a science lab.
Avoid These Skin Care Toxins:
Petroleum based ingredients – Petroleum, paraffin, and mineral oil clog your pores and prevent toxin release through sweat, so the toxins have nowhere to go. Clogged pores are a leading cause of dermatologic problems. They’re also suspected of disrupting hormone activity.
Parabens – These preservatives interfere with the endocrine system and have been implicated in cancer contribution.
Propylene glycol – This is popular in moisturizers, especially when fragrance is added. It’s thought to be a contributor to dermatitis and may inhibit new skin cell growth.
Toluene – This petroleum or coal derivative is a major component in synthetic fragrances. Long-term exposure has been linked to kidney and liver damage. Stay clear of ingredients that contain benzoic and benzyl in the name, as they too may contain toluene.
Check out the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics' list of skin care toxins to watch out for.
If you’re smart phone goes wherever you do, you might enjoy the Think Dirty® app. Learn about the potential toxins in personal care products by scanning the barcode.
Switch to Natural Skin Care Alternatives:
Having great skin doesn’t mean you have to break the bank on fancy, cutting edge products. Take a trip to your kitchen or pantry for look for these affordable, staples that double as natural moisturizers.
Olive oil – Olive oil is rich in antioxidants and healthy fats to nourish dry skin, and chances are you already have some if you do even a little bit of cooking. Look for pure, extra virgin varieties, preferably organic.
Coconut oil – The fatty acids in coconut oil hydrate parched skin. The mild coconut flavor makes it nice as a chapped lip treatment, too. Coconut oil pairs great with a few drops of your favorite essential oil if you you’re going for a more profound scent.
Avocado – No just for guacamole anymore! Avocado is high in fatty acids and antioxidants that revitalize dry skin. Its high vitamin A content is ideal for repairing rough, damaged skin. Mash one up and apply directly to the skin and let it work its magic for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing off. Or save it for some tortilla chips and opt for avocado oil instead.
Milk – This refrigerator staple is soothing because it has anti-inflammatory properties. The lactic acid content helps to get rid of dead skin cells and increases the skin’s moisture retention abilities. But to avoid the chalky residue of dried milk, apply to the skin and let it sit for at least five minutes before rinsing off.
Honey – Not your typical apply and go about your day moisturizer due to the sticky factor, but honey is rich in antioxidants and is great at locking in moisture. It also has several vitamins and minerals that promote healthy skin. Apply directly to the desired area and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing.
Aloe vera – The coolness of aloe helps to soothe dry, irritated skin. It also has antiseptic qualities that work well on cracked, inflamed skin. Go right to the source with a fresh cut aloe leaf and apply the gel to dry skin and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing with water.
Finding the right alternative might take some trial and error, but it’s a great feeling when you can replace all those containers of specialized moisturizers – night, day, under eye, lips, body – for just one or two natural skin care practices. It’s such a space-saver and it tends to be cheaper, too!