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Keep healthy skin, even in winter

As part of our featured section, 'New Year, New You,' we are presenting articles from local experts about self-improvement. This week's article is by Patty Oliver, a licensed esthetician and the owner of Body, Mind and Face in St. Helens


It’s the season for dry, itchy skin. Even with all the rain we get here in the Northwest, the air is still dry and we sit in homes and cars with the heater running constantly, compromising our skin barrier. We need to add extra steps to our skincare routine to lock in moisture. Here are a few recommendations:

(Image is Clickable Link) by: SUBMITTED - Patty OliverIf you already suffer from dry, dehydrated skin, then unfortunately this time of year only makes that condition worse. And those of you with Rosacea and Seborrheic Dermatitis — that dry flaky skin in your brows, forehead and even the scalp — these conditions tend to flare up in winter, too.

Rather than resort to harsh, abrasive techniques to rid yourself of the dry skin, you need to build up that skin barrier with gentle cleansers, hydrating serums and oil-based cream moisturizers that penetrate deeply yet won’t clog pores. Look for ingredients like avocado oil, primrose oil and almond oil as well as azulen (derived from chamomile, a calming herb), and aloe vera, to name a few. You can even make a simple homemade face mask from honey and avocado that will leave your face soft and supple.

If you have oily skin, you still need hydration, so don’t think you can skip the moisturizer. Oil and hydration are two very different things; you can be oily and still have very dehydrated skin, which can make acne worse as the skin tries to rebalance itself. Look for lightweight water-based moisturizers and apply daily. Also use cleansers and toners that are deep cleansing yet not too stripping, and avoid alcohol-based products.

Anti-aging treatments kick into high gear in winter, too, mostly because it’s the time when we are least exposed to the harmful UV rays of the sun. There are a number of exfoliating treatments ranging from enzyme peels to glycolic and other alpha-hydroxy chemical peels, to microdermabrasion and more. All of these treatments serve to remove the build-up of dry dead skin cells and stimulate fresh cells to surface, leaving the skin glowing and rejuvenated. Consult a trained skin care therapist for the treatment that is best suited for your skin condition.

Speaking of UV rays, yes you do need to wear sunscreen daily, even in winter. Those rays get through even in pouring down rain, so be sure to protect your face and body from the aging rays of the sun. Wear a physical block with minimum SPF of 30 daily, and also a good quality natural mineral makeup with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

Exfoliating body treatments are lovely this time of year. Dry brushing is a simple technique that can be done at home to slough off dry skin, and stimulate lymph and blood circulation. Or use a gentle salt or sugar scrub in a lukewarm shower or bath (never hot – this will also deplete moisture). Immediately follow with a shea or cocoa body butter to lock in moisture. Include hands and feet! This would also be a great time of year to invest in a humidifier for your bedroom, so your skin can drink in that moisture while you sleep and awaken to plump, soft skin.

I am often asked about how much water one should drink in order to hydrate the skin. It’s been my experience that drinking more water doesn’t necessarily lead to more hydrated skin. Rather, it is best to supplement good water intake with a proper balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and flax or fish oil, combined with reduced amounts of salt, soda, caffeine and alcohol, and consistent use of skin care products appropriate to your skin type that lead to the clearest, healthiest skin. This includes skin that is properly hydrated.