We’ve all experienced the itching, irritation, and inflammation of dry skin. It’s a common condition due partly to environmental factors that can be hard to control like cold or dry weather, indoor heating, low humidity, or desert climates. But there are many contributing factors we can influence to keep our skin in its natural supple, elastic state. Not only does skin look and feel better when it’s not dry, it is also better able to serve as a barrier to pathogens that can enter the body through dry, damaged, cracked skin.
Removing dead skin cells and increasing circulation is key to skin health. Dry brushing is an excellent way to slough off old skin. As a bonus, it also moves vital lymph through the body, which helps flush out toxins. Wet exfoliation is another option, involving a range of mild abrasives options including sugar, salt, baking soda, or oatmeal. Both forms of exfoliation allow the skin to absorb moisture better by revealing new skin cells. Be sure to avoid plastic microbead exfoliators since those tiny bits of plastic go down the drain and enter our waterways. They don’t biodegrade, are highly polluting to marine animals, and accumulate up the food chain to our dinner plates.
Long, hot showers may feel amazing, but unfortunately, they are one of the main culprits of dry skin. High temperatures and longer exposure to water washes off much of the body’s natural oils. And if combined with lots of soap and chlorinated water, the result is a perfect recipe for dehydrated skin. Considering that chlorine is not only drying but harmful to inhale, it’s worth considering installing a shower filter to remove it.
With soap, less is more. Most soaps contain surfactants, or foaming agents, like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). This class of chemicals is formulated to break down oils. But even if your soap is free of surfactants, best to use it judiciously—leaving the more intense soaping for the armpits, groin and feet (and of course hands in cold / flu season). Keep in mind that even soaps without surfactants can disrupt the skin’s “acid mantle”, a thin film secreted by the sebaceous glands that creates a barrier to bacteria, viruses and other contaminants. The PH of human skin should be slightly acidic, at a PH of about 4.5 – 5. At this acidity level, the skin’s microbiome can flourish and help keep us healthy.
On the outside of the body, water is the medium that seals in moisture. To keep water on the skin, be sure not to towel dry vigorously—instead, pat dry to leave water residue. To lock in the moisture, apply oil to damp skin. Choose natural oils instead of lotions, since they are concentrates, and therefore more effective moisturizing agents. Natural oils are also healthier than lotions, which often contain parabens and other harmful ingredients. And the main ingredient in many lotions is often water—something you might reconsider paying for.
Clearly, water plays an important role in avoiding dry skin. Drinking ample water daily flushes toxins and keeps the whole body hydrated. It’s also important to get enough electrolytes, which are salts critical to hydration and bodily functions. Key electrolytes are potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium. Simply adding a pinch of Himalayan sea salt to your water provides a wide range of electrolytes. And while a bit of a splurge, coconut water is a great choice for the full range of electrolytes.
What we eat has a profound effect on our skin, including dryness. The top advice on eating for healthy skin is to avoid simple carbs, sugars, and processed foods. Sugars and simple carbs break down collagen, the primary protein needed for the skin repair and elasticity that counters dry skin. Processed foods are typically less nutritious and loaded with hidden sugars too.
Foods rich in omega 3’s, vitamins A, C, D, E, B7 (biotin) and zinc are all essential for vibrant skin, and contribute to the healthy production of natural body oils. Silica and sulfur are equally important because they are the building blocks for collagen. Good sources of sulfur include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and bok choy (the Brassica family); while onions, shallots, garlic, and leeks (the Allium family) are especially high in silica.
Since it can be difficult to get enough of these minerals and vitamins from food alone, consider supplements; along with cod liver, borage, or black currant oil for omegas. Omega 3 can help normalize the fat in our skin cells which aids in trapping moisture on the skin and keeping oils on the skin’s surface. Another powerful substance to work into your diet is fulvic trace minerals, which is a natural effective treatment for dry, irritated skin. It can be taken internally or applied topically.
These tips to manage dry skin are also guidelines for overall health. Taking a holistic view of self-care and personal care means not mindlessly grabbing a bottle of lotion when dry skin strikes —that’s what the Personal Care Industry wants you to do. A lifestyle approach is more effective. Eating habits that support healthy, moisturized skin are going to make you feel better and function better too. Avoiding excessive soaping and washing also enhances our skin’s ability to block bacteria and viruses from penetrating the skin, potentially making us sick. What we put on our bodies affects the inside, and what we put in our bodies affects the outside. That’s what the holistic perspective is all about.
Akamai Skin Fuel feeds thirsty skin with 5 natural oils plus fulvic acid & trace minerals.
The National Journal of Cosmetic Science, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1111/j.1467-2494.2006.00344.x/abstract
DISCLAIMER: *These statements have not been verified by the FDA. This product is not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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