Weather-Proof Your Skin Care Regimen
Colder weather is coming to much of the country, and with it comes the risk of dry, chapped skin. Of course, those who live in warm areas are no strangers to skin problems like dryness, windburn and sun damage. The tips and tricks found here can help everyone maintain healthier skin year-round.
Bath Time Advice from Dermatologists
Mature skin tends to be drier, thinner, and more easily irritated. Doctors with the American Academy of Dermatology suggest that simple changes to the way we bathe and shower can make a big difference in skin health for older adults.
First, ditch the bar soap, especially when washing your face. Dermatologists recommend using a gentle cleanser and a soft cloth rather than a bath brush for both men and women. Bath oil is not recommended as it can contribute to slips and falls.
Second, turn down the heat. A short (10 minutes, tops) bath or shower in warm rather than hot water helps skin maintain more of its natural oils.
Finally, pat dry instead of rubbing, and apply moisturizer while your skin is still damp. All of these changes can help ward off dry skin and keep you feeling more comfortable after bathing.
What to Look for in Over-the-Counter Skin Care Products
Dermatologists recommend that older adults opt for fragrance-free skin care products whenever possible, as fragrance can irritate sensitive skin. Choose a different formulation for your face and neck than for your body, and if you spend a lot of time outdoors, be sure to choose products that also provide the right level of sun protection (broad-spectrum, SPF 30 or higher). Winter sun still packs a powerful punch and an afternoon walk on a chilly, sunny day can result in sunburn if you’re not careful.
If you’re new to the hundreds of skin care products available to minimize the effects of sun and aging, the choices can be mind-boggling. Antioxidant products with vitamin C and E can improve skin texture and appearance and may be worth a look. Be careful with retinoids and exfoliant products, which should be used sparingly, and only if they don’t irritate your skin.
Natural Products and Home Remedies
If you prefer natural products without chemicals, try olive oil, coconut oil and avocado for more homespun skin care. You’ll find dozens of “recipes” online for everything from gentle cleansers and anti-wrinkle eye cream to facial serum, body butter, and lip scrub – all made from products you can find at the grocery store or a natural foods supplier. Do your homework before trying something new to avoid any type of unexpected irritation.
Diet and Skin Health
You are what you eat (and drink) – especially when it comes to the appearance and health of your skin. Not drinking enough water is one of the most common contributors to dry skin, so make sure you’re sipping on H2O throughout the day. Drinking alcohol can also cause skin to look and feel dry and tight.
Diet plays a huge role in skin health, and the list of foods that can help maintain more youthful-looking skin is long and varied. Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes and apricots top the list, and green leafy vegetables like spinach, chard and kale can help, too. The Mayo Clinic also recommends walnuts, peas, beans, and lentils, as well as fatty fish like salmon and mackerel. All of these foods contribute to an overall healthy diet.
Collagen gives skin its structure, but our bodies produce less of this important protein as we age. Collagen pills and supplements purported to improve skin texture and elasticity aren’t regulated like many vitamins and supplements and are therefore not recommended. Natural food sources of “bioavailable” collagen – that which is most easily absorbed and used by the body – are safe and wholesome. In addition to many of the foods mentioned above, the best sources of bioavailable collagen are bone broth, chicken, shellfish, citrus and tropical fruits, egg whites and cashews.
Exercise and Skin Health
It’s good to break a sweat, especially in the winter when we tend to move less and stay inside more. If you walk or do other outdoor exercise in the winter, be sure to dress in layers to keep sweat away from your skin. Wear a hat to maintain body heat and to protect your ears. Apply a moisturizer with sunscreen before heading out to provide a protective barrier against both UV rays and dry air. Don’t forget to protect your lips with some kind of balm or stick to prevent chapping, and be sure to dry off quickly when you come in from a vigorous exercise session.
Like so many self-care regimens, cold weather skin care takes a little planning and persistence to be effective. Treat yourself to a new lotion or cleanser in the coming months, whip up a homemade facial treatment, and be sure to stock up on healthy foods, especially fruits and vegetables, to help your skin look and feel its best.