Is your hand starting to feel like your pet lizard? With winter’s outdoor cold, dry, windy weather and indoor blazing heat, your skin can take a beating, looking older than your years and feeling dryer than a desert.
Luckily, you don’t have to suffer anymore this winter. Follow these tips to smooth your way into softer skin and save those flakes for Mr. Snowman!
1. Eat your way to soft, supple skin
Healthy, moisturized skin starts internally, so make sure to consume a diet rich in anti-inflammatory essential fatty acids.
• Women of ancient Babylon would eat a mixture of sesame seeds and honey, called halva, to extend youth and beauty. Indeed, sesame is a favorite food among Chinese women for promoting beautiful hair and skin, prized for its nourishing qualities.
• Oily fish like salmon and sardines, walnuts, and flaxseeds are all rich in omega–3 fatty acids. An abundance of mono- and poly-unsaturated oils are also beneficial, especially unrefined organic coconut, sesame, and olive oils.
• Eat up to two small handfuls of nuts and seeds, especially hazelnuts, pine nuts, walnuts, sunflowers seeds, every day between meals.
• Avocado is rich in good fats, and also abundant in gluthione, the antioxidant compound that helps reverse premature aging of cells.
• The imperial empress of China included sea cucumber as an ingredient in her skin-beautifying recipes. A relative of the starfish, sea cucumber contains essential amino acids that are the building blocks of collagen and elastin. It can be found in dried form in Chinese food stores, ready to be used in soups. If food form is a little too adventurous, it is also available as a supplement; a typical dose is between 700 to 1,000 mg daily.
2. Water your skin
In addition to consuming the right foods, the amount of water you drink affects your skin. Think about your house plants: without sufficient water, they slowly begin to wither away, so to prevent a sallow, wilted complexion, make sure to enjoy at least eight 8-ounce glasses of filtered water daily. Water will keep your whole body hydrated, helping to irrigate your skin and promote healthy bowel habits for eliminating toxins. Be sure to limit your intake of famous skin-dehydrators coffee and alcohol.
3. Moisturize as nature intended
A little lotion makes fine lines look better – provided the lotion is nourishing to your skin. That pumpkin pie-scented body lotion may smell delicious, but beware of the hidden chemicals within! Many commercial moisturizers contain harsh chemicals that can do more harm than good, stripping your skin of lipids and moisture. Our skin is the largest organ on our body and has thousands of pores through which toxins can enter or exit. In other words, if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin.
• Organic coconut oil, shea butter, and jojoba oil are all excellent choices to use as body moisturizers.
• Massage some olive or coconut oil onto your cuticles to look like you’ve just stepped out of the salon.
• To bring relief from tight, itchy skin, mix ten drops of Tonic Oil (wintergreen, eucalyptus, menthol, fennel, and sesame oil) with fresh aloe gel; apply liberally and frequently!
• For a deeply moisturizing treatment, gently rub your skin with calendula oil twice a day. Calendula has been shown to speed healing of wounds, and is thought helpful for eczema and psoriasis.
• Be on the watch for toxins. It is best to avoid using products that contain: parabens, mineral oil, paraffin, petroleum, sodium lauryl or lauryl sulfate, propylene glycol, phenol carbolic acid, dioxane, and toulene.
4. Easy-does-it cleansing for beautiful skin
On a frigid day, a long, steamy, hot shower or bath may seem to be just what the doctor ordered. However, hot water can strip our skin of its natural oils, which may lead to even more dry skin. Keep bath time under 15 minutes and opt for warm water rather than scalding hot. Also, use natural soap made from vegetable and plant-based oils that won’t dry out your skin. Is your body soap or facial cleanser too harsh? The test: After cleansing, your skin should never feel tight or dry. Wash and softly pat your skin dry with a cotton towel.
5. Protect your skin
Don’t let sun damage and dry, cold, windy weather rob your skin of vital moisture and circulation, leading to prematurely older-looking skin. Wear sunscreen, even in the winter, and bundle up from the windy cold: gloves, hat, and a scarf to protect your face – the whole nine yards! The clothing layer closest to your skin should be cotton or other natural fabrics that breathe well and are soft on skin.
6. Steer clear of stress
Also, depression, anxiety, and stress create tension in your skin, particularly on the face, causing uneven blotches and lines. Relax, breathe deeply, and release tension with gentle exercise. Make sure to get seven to eight hours of zzz’s in every night.
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!
Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine, and board certified anti-aging expert. He has recently appeared on “The Ricki Lake Show,” “Dr. Oz,” and contributes to Yahoo Health and The Huffington Post. Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition, and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica, Newport Beach, and Pasadena. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni, founded the Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago in addition to founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at email@example.com. To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter, visit www.taoofwellness.com.