Are you wanting beautiful skin this winter?
Our skin is our largest organ and protects our internal organs from environmental toxins, viruses and bacteria. The appearance of our skin is important especially for our self esteem, if you are suffering from acne, hormonal acne, eczema or dermatitis this can cause added stress and can make these conditions worse. Psoriasis is another skin condition which is now treated as an autoimmune condition.
The cooler months can cause these conditions to worsen as the dry winds outside combined with warm rooms and/or electric blankets aren't kind to our skin. We also need to be mindful about what we apply to our skin as it is absorbed into our lymphatic system, blood stream and digestive system. Our endocrine system and hormones can be affected by what we put on our skin too.
As we age our skin becomes thinner, more fragile and we lose some of the protective fat layer. You also may be less able to sense touch, pressure, vibration, heat and cold. Rubbing or pulling on the skin can cause skin tears.
Dry hands are a common problem at the moment
Over the past 15 months there has been an increase in dermatitis especially on our hands. This is due to an increased awareness of hand washing and how important this is to stop the spread of germs and everywhere we go there are hand sanitizers for us to use. There are so many brands on the market and it's really hard to find one that suits your skin as most of them have a high percentage of alcohol as their base. I've had an increase in dermatitis on my hands and have really struggled in the past to find something that I can use regularly. I have found a few natural hand sanitizers that I'm currently using and they haven't caused any flare ups, thank goodness (they are herbal based products.)
It is important to find a hand sanitizer that works well for you as there are so many different products on the market. Most of the hand sanitizers contain a high percentage of alcohol and various chemicals that I have mentioned above and are also adding to your toxin overload.
You can also make your own hand sanitizers:-
Tea Tree, Hazelnut oil and Aloe Vera Gel Hand Sanitizer
- Bottle with splash pump
- 10 drops of Tea tree essential oil
- 30 ml Hazelnut oil
- 150 ml natural Aloe vera gel
Mix all the ingredients together, pour them to a suitable splash pump, and store in a cool and shaded place. (recipe from Shir Gutman)
Hand washing with soap and warm water for a minimum 30 seconds is the safest way to hand wash especially when there are the usual winter bugs going around.
Ingredients to avoid
Most of us slather ourselves in heavy creams and lotions on a daily basis, hoping they'll hold the key to softer skin. In reality, these may clog our pores and may only solve part of the problem and cause many more health related issues. Even coconut oil can clog our pores especially if we are suffering from dermatitis or eczema.
- Corticosteroid creams - are often prescribed by general practitioners and/or dermatologists for many skin conditions, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis and acne are the main ones. Their main function is the prevention of skin inflammation. Topical steroids vary in strengths where they may be mild, moderate, or potent depending on what skin conditions are being treated. Long term use of topical steriods can lead to thinning of the skin especially in the area where they have been constantly applied, further rashes developing and acne.
A lot of the creams that are readily available on the market contain hormone and endocrine disrupting ingredients. Some of these are listed below:-
- Parabens - they prevent bacteria and fungus from growing in your favorite bottle of moisturizer, which would be great if they weren't linked to hormone disruption. A natural alternative is vitamin E and citric acid which are found in organic products and are much safer for you, you just need to use them within a shorter time frame.
- Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) - BHA is a food preservative and stabilizer that routinely shows up in body lotions, as well as everything from lipstick to yeast infection treatments. But beware—it's an endocrine disruptor and "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen."
- DMDM Hydantoin - is a type of formaldehyde-releasing preservative used in a host of personal care items, including body lotion. It's an irritant for eyes and skin, and while there's no evidence that DMDM hydantoin itself is a carcinogen, formaldehyde definitely is.
- Fragrance and parfumes - when you see "fragrance" or "parfum" on a label, read "a toxic mix of chemicals the manufacturer doesn't want to tell you about." These mixes might smell delicious but they are far from good for you as they are termed 'endocrine disruptors' which affect your thyroid, adrenals, sex hormones, pancreas, thymus, hypothalamus, pituitary gland and pineal gland.
- Phthalates- they're used in just about everything from cosmetics to insecticides to wood finishes—and they're known to be endocrine disruptors and toxic to organ systems. They are used in personal skin care products for viscosity control and are also used as stabilizers, dispersants, lubricants, binders, emulsifying agents, and suspending agents.
- Retinyl Palmitate - is a vitamin A derivative that you'll see in some sunscreens, as well as lotions and creams advertised to have anti-aging properties. It has shown to cause tumors in mice.
- Triethanolamine - is alkaline and is used to balance pH in body lotions. It is a skin and respiratory irritant and toxic to the immune system
Are self tanning lotions safe to use?
These are popular especially if you have very fair skin or prefer that summer glow all year round.
Health authorities say tanning lotions are safer than baking your skin in the sun, or using a solarium. Unfortunately they don’t tell you about some of the potentially harmful ingredients found in many of them.
These products contain colour additives that interact with the skin's chemistry, causing it to look darker or even orange. There is nothing natural about orange skin. I think we all know someone who continues to 'rock' that look!
The one approved chemical that causes darker skin is dihydroxyacetone (DHA). When it combines with amino acids in your skin, the DHA causes a browning reaction.
Self tanning lotions are best avoided as they are full of chemicals that are harmful to your skin, endocrine, respiratory and immune system.
There are organic and clean self tanning creams/lotions on the market and it's important to read the ingredients.
Have you noticed a connection between your skin and your diet?
Gut health is so important as we need to work on what's happening on the inside as well as working on what's happening on the outside.
There can be many underlying reasons as to why you have a certain type of skin condition. Food allergies and/or food sensitivities can be a leading cause of skin flare ups, especially with eczema, dermatitis and acne.
Going on the oral contraceptive pill for acne as a teenager or as an adult and then stopping treatment can cause your skin to flare up again - this is known as 'post pill acne' as the pill plays havoc with our hormones and gut health.
Histamine reactions become more prevalent during the perimenopausal years. This is due to the hormonal roller coaster that most of us experience during this transition into menopause. Signs of a histamine reaction:-
- Migraine headaches
- Digestive symptoms - especially diarrhoea
- Flushing - red, burning sensation on your neck and face
- Allergic rhinitis
Most of us do get relief by following a low histamine diet for a period of time. I usually treat this along with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) as they can be inter-related. The good news here is I have some delicious recipes that are easy to prepare that I provide for my clients and there's supplement that I prescribe that will get on top of this condition.
Personally, I feel the flushing, red, burning face to be the most annoying part of this condition. A histamine reaction can occur after meals or drinking certain drinks.
When dealing with skin health, it's important that skin care is an inside job as much as it is an outside one. Although not a quick-fix like applying creams or lotions, adding these foods into your diet will improve your skin from the inside out.
Here are my tips to beat Winters dry skin:-
1. Stay Hydrated
Skin needs moisture to stay flexible. Even mild dehydration will cause your skin to look dry, tired and slightly grey. If you have dry lips, you are more than likely to be dry on the inside.
Drink six to eight glasses of water a day – all fluids count towards your daily allowance, but filtered water is the best. If you work in an office, keep a large bottle of water on your desk to remind you to drink. Herbal, caffeine-free teas are good too.
Don't forget that some fruit and vegetables such as, cucumber, zucchini and citrus fruits also contribute to our daily fluid intake – the added benefit is that the minerals they contain will increase the rate you hydrate your body and skin.
Promotes healthy skin and nails, this is due to the collagen content in the bone broth. Ingestion of collagen increases the amount of functional collagen peptides in the blood, which are then transferred to the skin. Collagen keeps the skin firm and elastic and makes it glow. Bone broth also helps to support our immune systems, has gut healing goodness, helps to reduce joint pain due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
You've probably heard that you should drink enough water to hydrate your dry skin, and it's true. But you can also boost your skin's hydration with herbs by drinking caffeine-free herbal teas. An infusion with rose and marigold (calendula) is especially helpful for dry skin because of the plants' moistening and healing properties. Chamomile, Sage and Lavender also have healing properties for dry skin. Schisandra tea tastes sweet and is great for dry itchy skin.
2. Healthy Fats
Plant based healthy fats and oils will add needed moisture and make your skin more supple. The key to healing your dry skin is to increase the amount of healthy fats (such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil) into your daily diet.
Coconut Oil can be used topically on your skin, as well as internally. Coconut oil is anti-inflammatory and has a range of benefits. It curbs sugar cravings, and leaves you satisfied longer, which can promote weight loss if that's your goal. Add coconut oil to a smoothie, cup of herbal tea or use it for cooking.
Omega 3, 6, 7 and 9
Salmon contains omega-3 fats in which reduce inflammation in the body, which can also reduce the inflammation and redness in your skin. Vegetarians can find Omega-3s in flaxseed, walnuts and algae.
Sea Buckthorn Oil (applied topically) is naturally full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and contains both mono and polyunsaturated fats (good fats) and contains all four omega fatty acids – Omega 3, 6, 7 and 9. Sea Buckthorn may promote elasticity and protect your skin against dryness this is really important especially if you are experiencing vaginal dryness. This unfortunately is one of the common problems for women who are over 40 and are either perimenopausal or menopausal and post-menopause.
3. Fruits and Vegetables
- Vitamin C - is a powerful antioxidant that’s required especially during the Winter months. It is needed to support the immune system, promote radiant skin and help blemishes heal properly. The best sources are blackcurrants, blueberries, broccoli, capsicum, guava, kiwi fruits, oranges, papaya, strawberries and sweet potatoes. Vitamin C is needed to produce collagen that strengthens the capillaries that supply the skin.
- Zinc - is involved in the normal functioning of the sebaceous glands in the skin (which produce oil) and helps to repair skin damage and keep skin soft and supple. Zinc-rich foods include fish, lean red meat, wholegrains, poultry, nuts, seeds and shellfish.
- Vitamin E - protects skin from oxidative (cell) damage and supports healthy skin growth. Foods high in vitamin E include almonds, avocado, hazelnuts and pine nuts.
- Fermented Foods - there are many health benefits that eating fermented foods have on our bodies. These include boosting our immune system, maintaining a healthy gut, strengthening bones, supporting weight loss, a good source of fibre (being constipated is bad for our skin along with adding stress on our gut), maintaining a healthy cholesterol levels, ideal for diabetics, a great source of antioxidants, they contain probiotics and supports youthful skin.
Some of my favourite fermented foods are:-
- Pickled vegetables,
- Organic yoghurt (both dairy and coconut),
- Raw cheese and
Protein is are necessary for tissue repair and for the construction of new tissue. Every cell needs protein to maintain its life. Protein is also the primary substance used to "replace" worn out or dead cells. Your muscles, hair, nails, skin and eyes are made of protein.
Protein from food comes from both plant and animal sources such as meat and fish, eggs, dairy products, seeds and nuts and legumes like beans and lentils. To reduce our chemical load on our body it is important to try and purchase organic or free-range or grass fed protein where possible.
5. Reduce your sugar intake
Refined sugar and highly processed foods should be avoided as they increase inflammation in your body. This means saying goodbye to commerically made cakes, bread, pastries, soft drinks and sugar syrups.
Alcohol is high in sugar especially if you are adding soft drinks or juices as a mixer. If you are going to have an alcoholic beverage, try sticking with a vodka or gin with fresh lime and soda water.
Replace your sugary foods with fresh fruits, vegetables and protein as I've mentioned above. If you are looking for a natural sweetner, stevia is a sweet alternative, organic honey and pure maple syrup are good to use in homemade cakes and biscuits.
6. Include whole grains
Whole grains are packed with nutrients including protein, fibre, B vitamins and antioxidants. Trace minerals (iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium). Adding whole grains into our diet is also great for bowel health (keeps you regular) and feeding your microbiome. It is important to mix up your whole grains as well, as eating the same type can cause inflammation and food sensitivities in the long term - especially if you already have a compromised digestive system.
My favourite whole grains (and seeds) to add into our diets are:-
- Brown rice
- Basmati rice
- Jasmine rice
- Organic wheat - especially sour dough bread
- Organic oats (you can purchase a gluten free version)
- Whole Rye
- Bulgur (cracked wheat)
Herbs that can assist in healing our skin
Incorporating herbs into our daily skin care routine is a great way to support healthy skin. It is so important to keep our skin looking beautiful and radiant without resorting to the harsh chemical cocktails found in so many skin care products.
- Aloe - is very well known for its healing ability. It is an excellent moisturiser as well as a great base for a herbal skin cream. Aloe is soothing for people who experience eczema, dermatitis or have acne flare ups.
- Borage - is moisturizing and is thought to be a natural alpha-hydroxy acid (which improves the overall look and feel of your skin).
- Sage - is an anti-aging herb which reduces puffiness and assists in reducing perimenopausal hot flushes and sweaty skin.
- Lady's mantle - helps to prevent skin from sagging.
- Schisandra - helps to heal dry, itchy skin. Some women experience this during perimenopause and menopause. I like to add this into a herbal mix for people who have eczema as well as for my perimenopausal ladies.
- Lemon Balm - is good for all skin types and helps to soothe irritation. You can apply this to any cold sore or herpes lesion to reduce the length of the outbreak/infection.
- Marshmallow - this pretty herb is useful in soothing irritated, dry skin. I add this into a herbal liquid as it soothes dry internal organs too. This can happen when you are constipated, dehydrated or have a dry irritated throat.
Most people are needing dietary assistance or functional testing in regards to their digestive health and skin health as there are so many root causes to skin conditions.
I have skin health programs which include recipes, grocery lists and weekly meal plans that I can design for you. Whether you are following a plant based lifestyle, eat only certain types of meat or seafood I can easily create a program for you.
I find that the hair compatibility test which tests around 600 foods and products that are commonly used by many people is a great way to begin your skin healing program. Most supermarket foods are tested along with popular ones from whole food shops and health food shops. Once we have your hair analysis report I can create meals for you that are based on these results.
Some of the skin health programs that are available for acne, hormonal acne, eczema and dermatitis are:-
- Acne prevention diet - great for teenagers and people with acne prone skin
- Skin health diet - the name says it all
- Plant based skin health diet
- Anti-inflammatory diet - for eczema, dermatitis and acne
- Anti-histamine diet - eczema, dermatitis
- Hormone balancing diet - great for post pill acne
- Plant based hormone balancing diet
- PCOS diet - regulates your blood sugar levels and so much more
- Plant based PCOS diet
Book your health consultation
Lets create healthy, happy skin this winter.
Yours in health