Acne Skincare Winter Guide

For many, the cold clear days of winter bring more than just a rosy glow to the cheeks. They also bring uncomfortable dryness to the skin, especially on your face but also on your hands and feet. For some people, the problem is worse than just a general tight, dry feeling. Skin can get so dry it results in flaking, cracking, or even eczema (in which the skin becomes inflamed).

Dry skin is never a sign of healthy skin. So how do we stop winter skin problems before they even start?

Hydrate and Moisturize

Water is good for your overall health, so it is also healthy for your skin. But the average person's skin does not reflect the amount of water being drunk until your body is truly no longer deficient, which means you need to drink a lot to reap the benefits for your skin. Moisturize and hydrate your skin from the inside out by drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water-or more-every day. Mix it up with herbal teas. Chamomile and mint are both calming and great for keeping you warm in the winter.

You may have found a moisturizer that works just fine in spring and summer. But as the weather conditions change, so, too, should your skin care routine. Dry, flaky skin may actually exasperate acne as dead skin cells clog the pores and invite bacteria. Additionally, if the skin is too dry, it will produce more oil, which is not good for acne skin. Find an "ointment" moisturizer that's oil-based, rather than water-based, as the oil will create a protective layer on the skin that retains more moisture than a cream or lotion. (Hint: Many lotions labeled as "night creams" are oil-based.)

But choose your oils with care because not all oils are appropriate for the face. Instead, look for "nonclogging" oils, like olive oil, avocado oil, primrose oil, or almond, apricot or coconut oil. Something with phospholipids (e.g., lecithin) will be essentially beneficial to your skin as well. Shea oil-or butter-is controversial because it can clog facial pores.  

 

Moisturizing Winter Mask

You might like to try a DIY moisturizing mask once in a while. It's very easy to make.  

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of regular flour, or non-GMO corn or potato flour
  • 2 tablespoons milk

How to make it:

Mix all the ingredients together until smooth. Use a brush to spread the mixtures onto acne-prone areas, and leave it on for 15-20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and repeat every few days.

Watch out for those peels

If your facial skin is uncomfortably dry, avoid using harsh peels, masks and alcohol-based toners or astringents, all of which can strip vital oil from your skin. Instead, find a fragrance-free cleansing milk or mild foaming cleanser, a toner with no alcohol such as a chamomile astringent (see below), and masks that are deeply hydrating, rather than clay-based masks, which tend to draw moisture out of the face. And always use all masks a little less often during the cold months-never more than once a day. Hydrating masks may be used every few days.

Chamomile Astringent

This recipe for the calming, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial chamomile astringent will last you a couple of days.

Ingredients:

3-4 chamomile tea bags or 2 handfuls of the dry plant

Instructions:

Brew the 3-4 chamomile tea bags. When it's cool, splash onto your face or use a cotton pad to dab it all over twice a day. You may keep the leftovers in the fridge for up to two day.


Nourishing Winter Mask

A nourishing cucumber mask might be your skin's new best friend. The cucumber works as an astringent and moisturizer, and the honey and oats nourish and revitalize. Cucumber also works as an exfoliator, so be sure to try this at night after the sun has gone down and use SPF as usual.

Ingredients:

  1. Half a cucumber (fresh, crisp and organic if possible)
  2. Two tablespoons of steel-cut natural oats
  3. The juice of half of a small- or medium-sized lemon (organic if possible)
  4. One tablespoon of honey

Instructions:

Cut the unpeeled cucumber diagonally and spoon out the pits. Chop it up into smaller pieces and put into a blender. Add the oats, lemon juice and honey. Blend until smooth. Apply onto clean skin, focusing on the most acne-prone areas. This mask can be used on your face, neck, shoulders, check or back, if that's where you need it. Massage gently to exfoliate and get rid of any dead skin cells that may clog your pores, and then leave it on for 15 minutes. Wash it off gently with room-temperature water.

And don't forget, even the most natural, organic, non-GMO ingredients may not agree with your skin, even more so during the winter. Keep an eye on your skin. If you notice that certain ingredients make your skin red, sensitized, or itchy, stop using them.



Love your humidifier

We all love to keep warm and cozy when it's snowing or just plain cold outside. But central heating systems (as well as space heaters) blast hot, dry air throughout our homes and offices, and while it may feel good, it's not good for our skin. Humidifiers can really help your skin by getting more moisture in the air, which helps prevent your skin from drying out. Place several small humidifiers throughout your home; they help disperse the moisture more evenly. You can also keep bowls of water on top of or close to radiators in order to put more moisture in the air. And as a general rule, try to keep the temperature between 68 and 70 degrees.

Keep away from hot baths & steam rooms  

Sure, soaking in a burning-hot bath feels great after frolicking out in the cold. But the intense heat of a hot shower or bath actually breaks down the lipid barriers in the skin, which can lead to a loss of moisture. You're better off with just warm water and a shorter soaking period, and never wash your face with hot water.

Bonus: Add some oats to your next bath for extra moisturization. Put steel-cut oats in a linen cloth and hang under the stream of water.

Remember your sunscreen

Sunscreen isn't just for summertime. Winter sun-combined with snow glare-can still damage your skin. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to your face and your hands (if they're exposed) about 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply frequently if you stay outside a long time.

Get your skin nutrients

Along with your daily AcnEase® and a diet rich in the omega 3 family of healthy fats (salmon, sardines, anchovies, sablefish and halibut), it is good to take a high-quality fish oil or krill capsule for supple, smooth skin. Zinc is another great supplement for acne skin because it helps to rejuvenate the skin and helps the skin to grow. If you suffer from acne, take 15mg of zinc a day. Also add zinc-rich pumpkin seeds to your winter diet.

Vitamin A is especially helpful for acne, so try to drink a glass of carrot juice a day, or at least every other day. You can also mix carrot juice with cabbage, apple, and beetroot juice, all of which will benefit your skin.

Exercise the right way

During the winter months, we tend to move our exercise indoors, either at home or at the gym. But if you do exercise outdoors in the cold, don't be fooled into thinking less sweat means you can shower less. Whether you exercise indoors or outdoors, you should always wash your skin immediately after exercising. And of course, follow up with plenty of moisturizer.

 

Put your seasonal stress to sleep

With winter's harsh weather comes lots of holiday fun, which unfortunately can bring with it more stress. Your skin may need you to get more sleep this season, as stress and fatigue can increase the production of hormones by the adrenal glands, which can exacerbate acne. So if you need an excuse to go to bed a little earlier this weekend, or sleep in an extra hour, just say you're doing it for your skin!

And, of course, don't forget to wash your face of oil, dirt and makeup before bed and moisturize afterward. Even the best makeup remaining on your face overnight will add to inflammation.

Final thoughts

Our acne-prone areas always need our utmost attention, so don't forget to moisturize your feet and your hands too, and most of all, don't skip your doing your acne treatment!

 
 

With a Promise of Clear Skin,

Dr. A 
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