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Skin-Spiration!

SKIN-SPIRATION!
THE TRANSITION TO COLDER MONTHS CAN WREAK HAVOC ON EVEN THE HARDIEST OF SKIN, SO IT’S TIME TO CHECK OUT SOME SKIN-SAVVY ADVICE.

Autumnal weather changes in temperature and humidity can affect the skin’s natural moisturising factor.1 The drier and colder the air, the more likely it is to cause troublesome dry hands and chapped lips. As the nights close in and the rain is pelting the windows, the temptation is to crank up the cosy and give yourself a right blast – further aggravation to the skin and not a great look: think sphynx cat with lizard’s hands.

I am taking inspiration here from my own experiences of autumn and hope that none of you are considering this your 2021 almanac prediction. I can’t forecast or control the weather but do suggest that you accommodate the season with some simple tweaks to your skincare routine.

Don’t ditch the sunscreen when you put the summer sandals away! The winter sun can still damage and age the skin, even through glass. Car windows do not necessarily have UVA protection.2

Driver skin damage is well documented – you can google the images. UV light accounts for 80% of visible ageing signs, not to mention more sinister conditions. Isn’t it worth layering on a bit of factor?!3

The skin’s outer layer is moisturised by the oils the skin secretes, and the amount of water it can absorb from the atmosphere. Humidity (the water content of the air) will therefore have some influence on how dry the skin feels. Dry, windy weather will blow-dry away all the moisture, so it’s really important to use skin barrier creams to stop this natural protection from evaporating.

Try spritzing your skin before moisturising, or apply your moisturiser to slightly damp skin as this will trap some water under an oil-based cream. This provides the ideal balance for lasting skin hydration.

Avoid over-washing. Long showers and baths may be high on the Danish hygge scale of cosiness and comfort but they do strip away the skin’s natural moisturising factor. Keep the soaps to a minimum too – surely no one but coal miners and sewer workers need all-overbody bubbles every day. Creamy cleansers rather than those that foam will leave more moisture in your skin so that your face doesn’t feel tight after washing.

For the lips, heels and knuckles, you can’t go wrong with Bioforce Cream, the ultimate handbag hero. It’s more of an emollient or balm than a cream, crammed full of natural, organic oils and herbal extracts – St John’s wort, calendula, sage and more. You won’t be opening door handles if you put too much of it in your hands (true story: I was trapped in my hotel bedroom, paws like starfish). It’s best used when you have really sore, dry or chapped skin (or lips) that needs something deeply penetrating.

As the weather starts to change, protect the skin from drying out and switch to a thicker moisturiser than the one you use in summer. Comfrey cream is a rich, natural and non-greasy formula made from organic oils, shea butter and beeswax. The herb comfrey has gorgeous purple flowers, and is traditionally used to help repair and regenerate tissue after injury. The rosmarinic acid and tannins it contains are reputed to reduce the appearance and formation of wrinkles by increasing blood flow to the skin; ergo, more oxygen and nutrients. It’s an excellent choice if your skin is feeling dull or lifeless – a natural anti-aging moisturising herb for topical use. Dry shins, by the way, can indicate sluggish blood flow, which can be worse if you tend to curl up and hibernate in the winter instead of getting out to exercise. So, try a couple of weeks of moving around a bit more to see if this helps.

IF YOU HAVE A SKIN ISSUE LIKE ACNE, ACNE ROSACEA, ECZEMA OR PSORIASIS, IT’S LIKELY YOU EXPERIENCE THE SHIFT TO WINTER MORE STRONGLY THAN MOST. CHANGES IN TEMPERATURE, ROUTINE AND DIET CAN CONTRIBUTE TO YOUR SKIN CONDITION GETTING WORSE AT THIS TIME OF YEAR. BUT FEAR NOT, THERE ARE LOTS OF SMALL CHANGES YOU CAN MAKE AHEAD OF TIME, TO MINIMISE FLARE UPS.

I’m going to focus on acne and rosacea but lots of these tips will be helpful for eczema and psoriasis too.

GET YOUR GUT IN ORDER

More and more research points to our gut as the linchpin of health. An unhappy gut can lead to unhappy skin. Prepare for winter by tending to your gut:

1. Make sure your bowels are moving well, at least once a day. If you are constipated or your digestion sluggish, toxins can build up in the body and will use your skin as an alternative exit route. Use a gentle bulking laxative like flax or psyllium to get things moving.

2. Adequate stomach acid is important to keep your gut healthy, and acne/ acne rosacea sufferers often have low levels of stomach acid. Bitter foods no longer feature strongly in our diets, but they are vital for keeping stomach acid balanced. Taking a bitter herbal blend 5-10 minutes before meals is a great way to add bitters to your day. Yarrow, gentian, centaurium and artichoke are bitter herbs that can be used as extracts on their own or as a blend.

3. Having a diverse and healthy microbiome is important for healthy skin. Add a probiotic to your daily routine to keep your microbiome as lush and thriving as a rainforest. I like to use Molkosan for 2 weeks prior to starting a course of probiotics. The L+ lactic acid in Molkosan supports a lovely environment for the good bacteria in a probiotic to thrive and multiply.

HERBAL HELP

For both acne and acne rosacea, improving blood flow to and from the skin is really important. The herb Viola tricolor can help with this. As well as improving blood flow to the skin, this herb helps to stabilise the tiniest blood vessels in our skin, called capillaries. This reduces inflammation and brings nutrients to the skin more easily. Overall, this herb has a lovely calming and anti-inflammatory effect for the skin, as well as being nutritive and cleansing. Most skin conditions will benefit from these actions. Take Viola for 2- 4 weeks for the best results.

TOPICAL PRODUCTS

Skin health is generally an inside job – it’s what you put into your body that makes the real difference; but there are some topical products that combine well with the tips I’ve mentioned.

For acne-prone skin that needs a detox, silicolskin works amazingly well. The gel is applied to the affected area and gets straight to work by removing toxins, irritants and bacteria from the skin. Perfect for treating acne, spots, redness, excess oil and irritation.

For skin that’s prone to inflammatory flare ups like rosacea, eczema and psoriasis, Neem is the herbal answer to your scaly skin prayers. Neem extract is soothing, healing and anti-inflammatory. Ideal for dry, itchy skin, with bumpy rashes. Neem is a gentle healer, so suitable even for sensitive and delicate skin.

Don’t forget that your skin primarily gets its nourishment internally. A diet that is full of antioxidant-rich vegetables will keep its summer glow for longer. Try to include plenty of colours:

Orange, red and yellows – carrots, sweet potatoes, peppers
Purples and blues – red cabbage, blueberries, blackcurrants, blackberries
Greens (full of chlorophyll) – spinach, kale, peas, broccoli

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are fats that the body can’t produce and must get from the food that we eat. They moisturise skin from the inside. Good examples of EFA-rich foods are flax/linseed, chia seed, cold-pressed virgin olive oil, and oily fish like salmon and mackerel.

And finally, don’t forget to drink lots of water!

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Skin-Spiration!