Health discussions during cold and flu season are usually reserved for the topics of immunity, weight gain and vital energy. While these areas of healthcare are of extra concern during cold months, there’s another area of the body that also needs extra care and protection in the winter: your skin.
Most of us don’t consider the winter season a time for increased skin care. In fact, many people abandon their sunscreen routines during cloudy, cold days. Who needs SPF when the sun is hiding? But while the sun’s rays are weakest during the winter, we still need to protect ourselves from sunburns, dryness and environmental damage. Here’s what you can do.
Winter Sun Protection
People still can receive sunburns on a cloudy day. Depending on how thin the cloud cover is, the sun’s rays may actually be amplified. Furthermore, the sun’s magnified reflection from snowfall can cause serious burns and lead to premature aging and skin cancer.
Luckily, research shows that some unique natural solutions can help prevent sunburns and protect the skin from environmental exposure. One ingredient derived from a type of fern has been receiving significant attention in this area. Research shows it possesses the ability to prevent sunburn and photoaging (premature aging of the skin due to excess sun exposure), reduce inflammation and possibly help protect against skin cancer.
This natural substance is extracted from a type of fern native to the Americas, Polypodium leucotomos. It is taken as a supplement and can also be applied as a cream. A number of studies show that this fern extract prevented acute sunburn and other phototoxicity when it was used both orally and topically. It offers powerful anti-inflammatory effects for the skin, provides significant antioxidant protection and helps maintain normal immune function during sun exposure. Even more importantly, it doesn’t interfere with vitamin D absorption from the sun’s rays.
Tackling Winter Dryness
When the temperatures really drop, moisture gets drawn out of the environment, which may significantly dehydrate the body. Cold weather conditions with very low humidity can produce a dehydrating effect like a freezer burn. Skin can become flaky, itchy and uncomfortably dry. Lips get chapped easily.
A great remedy for winter skin dryness is an omega-3 essential fatty acid supplement, taken orally. It helps to moisturize and protect skin from the inside out, while controlling inflammation to help treat eczema, psoriasis, flaky skin and acne.
Topical application, as well as regular consumption of coconut oil in the diet, is very helpful for dry skin issues. Coconut, a rich source of healthy fat, helps protect, moisturize and repair dry skin. Natural-based sunscreens with SPF 15 to SPF 20 can be used to prevent winter sunburn and are especially important in any areas with snow that reflects the sun’s rays.
Vitamin D supplements are also important for winter skin health, since we get less sunlight in the winter and, therefore, less vitamin D. Without adequate levels of this nutrient, skin can become much more dry, flaky, chapped and problem-prone. Supplementing with 600-1000 IUs of vitamin D3 can help.
Medicinal mushoom formulas are also a plentiful source of nutrients and antioxidants, including vitamin D, to support skin, immunity and numerous other areas of health.*
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Hydration is key during the winter. When you combine cold weather with sweet holiday indulgences, your skin can suffer from serious dryness and a lackluster appearance. By drinking at least an 8-ounce glass of pure, filtered water eight times a day, you can help to flush toxins and keep your skin hydrated. Sugar in particular is very dehydrating, and dehydration spikes sugar cravings. Drink extra water and eat a bit of lean protein to help break the sugar cycle.
Lastly, an indoor humidifier is important to keep moisture in the air during cold, dry spells. This can be especially helpful at home when heaters and furnaces are going full blast. Lack of moisture and dry air can lead to increased infections and reduced immunity. An air humidifier helps protect the skin and respiratory tract from overdrying and can also help prevent colds and flus.
This winter, enjoy the beauty and stillness of the season, and remember to give your skin a little extra TLC beneath your cold weather layers.