Brrr! Winter is here; that means skating, skiing, and hot pot but also dry, itchy skin. Here are some simple suggestions for ensuring that your skin looks less like an alligator’s. Let’s begin with what you can do at home.
- Lower the heat and use a humidifier. Choose a humidifier with a mechanical system like discs and fans, as these are the cleanest. If you have an ultrasonic humidifier, use distilled water to prevent impurities from being propelled into the air. Regardless of the type of humidifier you choose, wash and disinfect the device regularly. Keep humidity levels below 55 percent to prevent mold from growing. Buy a humidifier that can tell you the humidity level or get a hygrometer.
- Take shorter showers. Not only do long, hot showers and baths use up a lot of water, they also dry out your skin; if possible, three-minute showers are ideal. Water in Beijing is very hard and can be quite harsh on the skin.
- Be cautious about the washing products you buy for your family. Avoid sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate in shampoos and body washes; these surfactants can dry out and irritate sensitive skin.
- Exfoliate regularly. I use a natural loofah before showering; this process is called dry skin brushing and has many health benefits aside from getting rid of dead skin cells.
- Choose natural moisturizers.
These include almond and jojoba oils, and shea and cocoa butters. The best time to moisturize is right after a shower when your skin is still a little damp.
To avoid dry skin, the body must strike a balance between oils and moisture. Here’s what you can do to keep your skin healthy from the inside out:
- Drink plenty of water. The average adult needs approximately 2L of water a day in climates less dry than ours. Being optimally hydrated has many other health benefits. If you suspect you’re not drinking enough water, slowly increase your intake and see how you feel.
Consume a lot of foods containing essential fatty acids. These good fats are necessary for keeping skin supple. Two spoonfuls of flaxseed oil a day provides a good dose of omega 3 oils, which also have anti-inflammatory properties. Other good fats include extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and avocados.
- Get enough Vitamin A. Deficiency can cause dryness and flakiness. The body naturally produces Vitamin A from beta-carotene, so try adding fruits or vegetables with its distinctive orange or yellow color; pumpkins, squash, apricots, cantaloupes, and peaches. Leafy greens are also very good sources, especially spinach and kale.
This article originally appeared on p20 in the December 2014 issue of beijingkids. To view it online for free, click here. To find out how you can obtain your own copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Erik Leo Kogan (flickr)