“The human body is the universe in miniature. That which cannot be found in the body is not to be found in the universe. Hence the philosopher’s formula, that the universe within reflects the universe without.” ~Mahatma Gandhi
As we age, our body will contain less water, more like 60%. Dry air can also contribute to even more dry skin. Skin that is excessively dry is more likely to wrinkle at an early age, though is less prone to enlarged pores and breakouts.
Listen to my recent Green Divas Health & Beauty segment about natural remedies for dry skin with Green Diva Meg . . .
Seriously dry skin can be due to a depletion of fluids and dry skin is especially prone to not being able to retain the moisture it has. The best way to hydrate the skin is from the inside. Drinking at least a quart of pure water a day is essential. Though simply drinking water is not enough to cure dry skin, it does help the maintenance of interstitial fluids between the cells that contribute to forming a flexible matrix. Caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco are all dehydrating to the skin. Skin care products such as soaps, cleansers, and alcohol-based products can all contribute to drying out the skin. Weather, sun exposure, and the methods used to heat and cool our homes, cars, and workplaces can all exacerbate dry skin conditions. Estrogen helps the skin retain moisture by increasing the hyaluronic acid and mucopolysaccharide content in the skin, so when menopause occurs, skin can retain less moisture. Lack of moisture, a buildup of skin cells that adhere together that prevents natural exfoliation and moisture retention. Skin can even get dried out from overuse of moisturizers that are so emollient that dead skin cells are held in place.
The best way to hydrate the skin is from the inside.
Good Food for Better Skin
Good foods to eat more of to improve skin quality include the dark orange and green beta-carotene rich foods like apricots, carrots, green leafy vegetables, parsley, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, winter squash, as well as moistening almonds, apples, avocados, barley, buckwheat, millet, oatmeal, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and yogurt. It is also essential to consume the right kinds of fats. Get off commercial heated oils such as soy, corn, and canola, which all contain Omega 6 fatty acids, which contribute to inflammation and use instead skin beautifying extra virgin olive oil.
Herbs & Herbal Teas for Healthier Skin
Dried up skin lacks moistening yin, so drink moisture herbal teas such as fennel seed, Irish moss , marshmallow root, plantain leaf, red clover blossoms, and violet leaves.
Herbs to moisten dry skin include calendula, chamomile, comfrey, elder flower, linden flower, marshmallow, and essential oils of bergamot, cardamom, carrot seed oil, cedar wood, chamomile, champa, clary sage, fennel, frankincense, geranium, jasmine, juniper, lavender, lemon, melissa, myrrh, neroli, palmarosa, patchouli, peppermint, rose, rose geranium, rosemary, rosewood, sage, sandalwood, vetiver, or ylang ylang.
Vitamins & Minerals to Support Skin Health
Since good skin health begins from within, various vitamins can be of benefit. Vitamin A helps to preserve the skin’s elasticity, regulates sebaceous glands, protects against infection, and stimulates collagen formation. A deficiency may result in dry, itchy skin as well as making it more likely for dead skin cells to clog the pores resulting in breakouts. The B complex helps keep stress from showing its ravages on our skin. A deficiency is sometimes implicated in cracks around the mouth, corners of the mouth, and eyes. Vitamin C strengthens the capillaries, promotes healing, and increases skin elasticity. Vitamin D nourishes dry skin, Vitamin E helps the body utilize oxygen better, balances hormonal production, and preserves elasticity. Vitamin F is often referred to as “the cosmetic vitamin.” A deficiency can cause wrinkles, eczema, and thick dry skin. Zinc helps to synthesize collagen, boosts the immune system, and is essential to restore dry flaky skin into balance.
How we cleanse our skin can affect its moisture content. If using soap, avoid brands that contain deodorants and detergents. Soaps made of oatmeal, white clay, or olive oil are least drying. Gentle cleansers are available with dry skin soothing ingredients such as vitamin E, oatmeal, coconut oil, and shea butter. Cleanse the face with warm water (not hot) and rinse with at least ten splashes of cold water to remove any residue of cleanser. Certainly bathing and washing too much can dry out the skin.
The best time to apply a moisturizer is right after cleansing as water helps keep the skin’s outer layers from drying out and oil seals it in. Avoid poor quality cosmetics that contain mineral oil, chemicals, and artificial colors and fragrances.
Showers that are short and not too hot are less drying than baths. If you do like to soak in the tub, mix up a rich bath oil of 2 cups of the following: cold pressed coconut oil and then add 1/2 ounce of pure lavender oil. Shake the oils together and add two tablespoons to the bath.
You can also benefit your bathing with the addition of a mixture of moisturizing herbs, tied into a washcloth and allowed “to steep” in the tub. Soothing herbs that feel and smell pleasant include calendula, chamomile flowers, elder blossoms, fennel seed, comfrey leaves, lavender flowers, marshmallow root, rose buds, and violet leaves. However, herbs and oils can add a slippery quality to the bath, so be sure to have a bath mat and/or rail to avoid mishaps.
During the day, rehydrate the skin, especially the face, which is the part most exposed to the elements. A mister bottle may be filled with moistening ingredients and sprayed lightly with eyes and mouth closed, even over makeup. Ideas for filling the mister include a tea of chamomile, fennel, and orange blossoms. These should be kept refrigerated when not in use. One half cup each of rose water and mineral water can be used as a moistening mister. Another easy spray can be made with eight ounces of spring water and ten drops of chamomile, geranium, lavender, neroli, rose, or sandalwood essential oil. Shake before spraying. If you fly in airplanes, keep in mind that cabin air is very drying and a spray mister is great to use for external hydration.
Natural Masks for Sustainable Moisture
Masks can be made in the kitchen from fresh ingredients and used to nourish the skin. These are fun to use, cost effective, and free of preservatives. Simply run the ingredients through the blender if necessary, and apply while you relax in the bathtub. Facials may be done once or twice a week
Apricot enlivens tired skin and helps prevent wrinkles.
Avocado moistens very dry skin.
Banana moistens dry skin.
Oatmeal helps improve blackheads and dry and oily skin.
Peach enlivens tired and dry skin, anti-inflammatory and prevent wrinkles.
Apply and leave on for twenty minutes. Rinse with cool water, pat dry with a towel, and apply moisturizer. When applying moisturizer to the delicate eye area, use gentle tapping movements rather then rubbing. If you are allergic to any of the above ingredients as a food, do not use them on your skin.
Protect skin from the elements; especially when outdoors between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. Wear appropriate protective clothing. Stay clear of getting sunburned and avoid tanning booths.
Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to the skin and increases collagen production. Avoid excessive heat such as sitting close to the fire. Keep the heat lower in your house. Even here in Colorado, we turn it all the way off most nights in the winter. You’ll not only save energy and reduce your power bill, but also save your skin. Cold is a preservative.
Smoking causes early wrinkles, yet even after long term use and then quitting, the skin’s color and texture will improve. Consider having a humidifier in the room, especially during the winter months where air becomes drier from heat sources. Plants in one’s room are especially moisturizing to the air and body. A good massage done with oil can be both relaxing and moisturizing. Wear natural fiber clothing so your body can breath! Polyester isn’t too cool for many reasons. Fresh air is free medicine for the skin.
Be aware that eczema, psoriasis, sun damage, rosacea, and early signs of skin cancer, can all resemble skin dryness, but are not benefited by regular moisturizers.
Face the world with a healthy moistened glow
Brigitte Mars, an herbalist and nutritional consultant with over forty years experience, is the author of Beauty by Nature, Rawsome!, The Sexual Herbal, Addiction Free Naturally, Healing Herbal Teas, The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine, The Country Almanac of Home Remedies, and co-author of The Hemp Nut Health and Cookbook. She is also the author of a phone App called IPlant. Learn more about Brigitte at brigittemars.com.