Winter is a good season for reading novels, roasting chestnuts and dehydrating your skin. Strip down in front of the roaring fire at the ski chalet of your dreams and you may find shins that are scaly, elbows that are flaky and the baby wrinkles around your eyes have become ravines. Ouch! Wind burn, central heating, and cold, dry air have the power to strip a girl of her natural oils as well as her sense of humor. Dehydration makes us look pasty or ashen and downright uncomfortable in our skin, clothes chafe and even hair looks ragged and dry. To arm against the ravages of the season you need to treat your whole system from within and from without. One expensive cream and a beanie worn low is not going to do it ! Tender care will. Here’s how:
1. Soak not
Long hot showers strip your skin of natural oils, can break capillaries and leave you with painful dry zones along the arms, hips and shins (where the water pressure hits hardest). Try to bathe instead in slightly more tepid water and the second you leave the shower oil yourself up with a non-perfumed body lotion. Moisture needs to be locked into the skin while pores are open. If you have a bath, sprinkle it with natural oils but don’t soak too long. If you really must marinate (to clear the mind) dunk your feet instead in an infusion of rose petals and rose oil (Weleda is the best, find it in health food stores).
2. Face the frost
Moisturizer can afford to be a little heavier in winter, especially when going outdoors. One with a built in sunscreen and gentle natural ingredients and avoid those that contain TEA (triethanolamine) a harsh ammonia derivative. Moisturizers that are made of beeswax sweet almond oil, shea butter, collagen or vegetable squalene are preferable to the cheaper alternatives that contain mineral oil and petroleum. These ingredients tend to clog the pores. For an excellent break down on the world’s best moisturizers refer to page 36 of Rona Berg’s fabulous book “Beauty”, Workman Publishing ($19.95). She also includes excellent recipes for home-made face masks.
3. Shed your skin
Sloughing off a layer of dry dead skin cells readies the skin to receive more moisture, it also helps circulation. Use a massage mitt in the tub and a light face scrub (Decleor is excellent) once a fortnight.
4. Eat oily
Unsaturated fats help the body absorb protein. If you have an urge to splatter a salad in virgin olive oil or devour a whole can of sardines go for it. There is a reason arctic people eat oily fish, they need it and in winter so do you!
5. Pucker pretty
Olive oil, sesame oil and even good old vitamin E (cracked open and rubbed onto the lips) are excellent balms for a dry kisser. Commercial lip balms that contain shea butter keep lips soft and conditioned.
6. Move about
Nutrients come to the skin when your circulation is pumping. It also lifts winter blues to exercise. How easy it is to forget the body when wrapped in a comforter, sucking on a chocolate bar.
7. Rug up
Gloves look sexy and protect the thinnest driest skin on the body, your hands. Never feel foolish dressed like a snowman in winter. I have plenty of broken capillaries to remind me of the days I went hatless in the snow.
8. Get touched up
Massage with natural oils is a sensual way to moisturize and get circulation pumping. The body needs to be touched. Skin tends to glow when the energy of human hands has graced it.
9. Mist and spritz
Spraying your face with Evian or rose water does not serve to radically moisten it but it definitely eases the tightness that comes with sitting in a heated room. Eye creams, lip balm (non petroleum-based, please) hand creams and a purse size spritzer should go everywhere with you in winter.
10. Go herbal
Red wine, coffee, hot chocolate and strong brewed tea can become obsessive comforts in winter, especially if a period is due or work is unbearable. Sadly these are the bevvies that seriously dry out your system. Try to be moderate with alcohol (taking three to four alcohol free days a week) and dilute your latte with extra milk. Experiment with herbal teas and don’t leave the office until a two liter bottle of spring water is empty. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine will also boost your immune system and fend off a flu.
11. Sleep in
Lack of sleep depletes the body’s store of vitamin B, the stuff that keeps hair glossy, skin supple and nails from snapping in two. Sleep is also a natural stress buster, giving skin a chance to bloom again. Night is a good time to give hands and feet beauty treatments, slathering on a body cream and then slipping into some squishy socks or little gloves. Single girls rejoice, you are free to be moisture monsters in sweet privacy! To keep hydrating while you sleep be sure and drink plenty of water before bedtime and to install a humidifier in stuffy or over heated boudoirs. If you happen to wake up to stare at the moon for no reason…DRINK!
12. Worship the moon
Dehydration doesn’t actually age the skin, only the sun can do that. Even weedy winter sun can burn the skin causing the dreaded “visible signs of aging” that come with UV damage. To fight back, wear a tinted moisturizer with a slightly lower SBF than in summer, say 8 to 15, and be sure to wear it every day. Measure the strength of your protection for the length of time you decide to spend out. Sun damage is gradual but the results are permanent. The day you start wearing sun screen is the day your skin gets a second chance, no matter what age you are.