Updated: Dec 19, 2019
Winter weather is not fun for skin. Cold temperatures, lack of humidity and hard water aren't anything new to Calgarians, but adding central heating to the mix can be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Some surprising ways to combat winter dryness and it's not all about drinking more water....
In the quest for vibrant skin, I am a huge fan of internal solutions as well as external/topical solutions. For instance, when we eat food rich in antioixdants AND apply our antioxidants topically, we give our skin cells the best chance at the nutrition it needs to thrive. Applying the same strategy to maintain optimal hydration levels both inside and out are key to maintaining healthy, hydrated skin during the cold, winter months.
For years we've been told to "just drink more water". But what if I told you there was a smarter way to hydrate our bodies? Enter in the book Quench - written by Dana Coen, MD and Gina Bria. Released last year, this book have been a game changer in the way I view hydration. No longer relying on the standard 8x8ozs of water a day, this book dives into the most cutting age research (did you know there is such thing as gel water with the chemical composition of H3O2?) on how to obtain optimal hydration within our bodies without relying on just chugging back water all day.
“Did you know that your food can suck hydration out of you? Or, conversely, rehydrate you? Rehydrate you more profoundly than water alone?”
For example, an apple with a bottle of water hydrates more than two bottles of water. The fibrous materials in that apple serves as a sponge to help hold the moisture inside itself longer, and longer inside you. The authors met while both trying to combat seemingly unrelated health concerns with their elderly parents. What they discovered was that all of their health challenges were linked to low levels of chronic dehydration. Incorporating their suggestions of adding more fibrous plants into my diet (soup for breakfast anyone?) and the addition of chia seeds to my water bottle have made incredible differences to my day.
I've always been very good about drinking water throughout the day, but often found myself running to the bathroom more often than I cared for. So something was amiss in that I wasn't retaining it and it was just channeling through me. This became especially tough on days where I had clients booked back to back. If you've ever had a facial with me, you know they aren't a short in and out service. Adding chia seeds has allowed me to reduce the overall water I need to drink to "feel" hydrated without actually sacrificing hydration. If you can get past the texture, I'd definitely give this a try. But if the texture is too much for you, consider adding them to your morning smoothie for a boost of hydration for the day!
When Dana Cohen, an Integrative Physician and Gina Bria, an Anthropologist who was researching indigenous tribes from desert regions around the world and trying to understand how they survived in drought conditions met, they both realized that they were observing the same clues. They both believed that hydration should be used more by the scientific community as a key barometer of our health and that persistent low-grade dehydration is a larger factor in many chronic illnesses than currently understood.
WHAT'S HUMIDITY GOT TO DO WITH IT?
Would you believe me if I told you that Calgary actually has more humidity in the winter than the summer? True Story. But needing to heat our homes with central heating can leave as little as 10 percent moisture in the rooms. To combat this I finally got a humidifier just for my bedroom. When the air is cold and dry, skin has more difficulty holding onto moisture and when the air gets dry enough, the moisture on our skin can evaporate. Running a humidifier while we sleep is one of the best things we can do for our skin in the winter months. When else are we in the same place for 6-8 hours a day? (you could have a diffuser at your desk as well but the output of a diffuser is much lower compared to that of a humidifier)
I picked up this humidifier at Costco a couple months ago for $79. It's a HoMedics (not sponsored) Warm and Cool Mist Humidifier. I do not use the warm function and you do have to run the cleaning cycle to prevent hard water buildup. It has 2 tanks that only need filling once a week. I only run it at night and I can tell the difference when I forget to turn it on. It runs quietly and you can turn all the indicator lights off so the lights don't disturb your sleep. I'm not going to lie, the reviews on the Costco website are not favorable, but I took a chance, haven't had any problems with it thus far and am happy with my purchase.
There are many more things we can do to prevent dry, winter skin. Incorporating a more gentle cleansing ritual, more supportive exfoliation to maintain essential lipid barriers to hold on to moisture and internal supplements that help build healthy cell membranes. More on this to come! Do you have any go to habits that have helped save your skin in the winter?