Is your skin feeling drier, more inflamed or oilier than normal?
Could be the effects of winter where hot radiators and plummeting outside temperatures can wreak havoc on skin health!
DRYNESS AND DEHYDRATION
Dry and dehydrated skins are both manageable, and it is important to pinpoint the root cause of the imbalance early on to counteract symptoms such as wrinkle and line formation, loss of elasticity and more serious issues such as eczema and psoriasis.
Dry skin is a skin type, governed partly by skin barrier health and requiring ongoing management. Dehydration describes the condition of the skin when it is lacking in moisture. Any skin type can become dehydrated; the skin is made up of 70% water, 25% of which resides in the epidermis; exposure to pollution, heating and lifestyle factors such as alcohol and poor diet can rapidly reduce moisture, and skin’s sebaceous glands may try to counteract this by producing more sebum, leading to unusual t-zone or jawline breakouts.
Benefits of diet for skin have historically been viewed as controversial, however there is evidence supporting that certain food groups can influence the way our skin functions in terms of maintaining hydration and skin barrier health; one study found that regular consumption of yellow and green vegetables reduced wrinkle formation associated with dryness in Japanese women, whilst another found a positive link between drinking two litres of water daily and skin hydration. There is also data highlighting that diet rich in omega 6 will directly prevent skin diseases associated with dry, flaky skin such as eczema and dermatitis. I advise this client group to start their day with a cup of hot water and a big squeeze of lemon, as we often lose moisture as we sleep. Including lots of brightly coloured fruits and green vegetables, pumpkin, chia and sunflower seeds, salmon, mackerel and safflower oil will improve epidermal and deeper skin hydration.
Skincare may need a shake up at this time of the year; I suggest avoiding water on the face during autumn and winter if skin feels tight, and using a balm or cream cleanser to seal in moisture. Toning the skin isn’t essential, whilst a good vitamin C serum will do more for your skin, as this helps to prevent the cycle of oxidative stress. Moisturise with a product containing an SPF of 30 or higher to finish, looking for ingredients such as Rosehip, Sea Buckthorn and Raspberry to reduce flakiness and encourage stratum corneum rejuvenation. An antioxidant-rich face oil at night will help skin’s barrier to heal as you sleep.
Environmental factors can aggravate combination skin types at this time of year too. Combination skins can be defined as an oily t-zone and dry u-zone, and this client group are often under the impression that they should avoid putting anything moisturising onto their faces to avoid breakout risk, meaning their skin is often dehydrated and malnourished. One post-menopausal client I saw recently had been avoiding skincare and sunscreen altogether for fear of causing spots, and her epidermis was flaky, thin, yet still oily in the t-zone – I am slowly re-educating her now! The oily areas are caused by raised Testosterone levels, not skincare. One study provided evidence that sebum production alters with seasonal changes in those with combination skin types; summer yields higher sebum production, whilst winter encourages u-zone dryness.
Evidence suggests that daily consumption of two glasses of milk significantly heightens sebaceous gland activity, increasing risk of blemishes and spots, whilst eating fish three times weekly appears to exert a protective effect; links between eating a low glycaemic index diet and reduction in sebum production have also been well documented, and soybean isoflavones - a type of phytoestrogen – are able to exert antioxidant and antifungal properties, impacting skin health and homeostasis. Including isoflavone-rich foods such as miso, tempeh, soya milk, tofu, pulses, alfalfa and mung beans, flax, sunflower and sesame seeds and lots of oily fish, whilst reducing cheese, yogurts and refined sugars will all help to balance combination skins through the winter.
Twice daily cleansing is important, and the product should be light, unscented and easily absorbed. Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) is particularly beneficial in balancing sebum production on both dry and oily areas of the face. Look for a serum high in this antioxidant, plus a light sunscreen. Extracts of the mint and menthol families help to prevent formation of blemish-causing bacteria on skin’s surface.
This occurs when blood vessels across the central face become dilated causing inflammation and swelling, and the skin is often toughened and rough to touch. The condition goes through periods of flare up and remission. Cold temperatures can exacerbate flare ups, and I recommend that my rosacea clients take a number of measures to calm their skin at this time of year. Rosacea tends to develop between the ages of 30 to 60 years; women with a long history of regular alcohol consumption – especially prosecco and white wine – are more at risk. Avoiding cigarettes and vaping, hot drinks, tomatoes and Capsaican (chilli peppers), reduces blood vessel dilation, whilst opting for omega 3, 6 and 9-rich foods particularly salmon, flax seeds, sardines and chia will help to reduce skin inflammation. Additionally, supplementing with a good Gamma-Linoleic Acid (GLA), supplement such as borage or evening primrose oil, can also help to reduce facial flushing, as can turmeric.
Emotional stress and anxiety are linked with flares, although studies have shown that breathing exercises and biofeedback in combination can alleviate symptoms.
A fine balance is required with skincare choices in this client group, as there is evidence to suggest that skin’s microbiome is disrupted in rosacea. Certain oils can worsen flares, so I tend to focus on nourishing and lightly hydrating without causing greasiness. Antioxidant skincare with flavonoid, vitamin A, C and E-rich extracts alongside omega-rich skincare overnight will help to calm and soothe affected areas, and year-round sunscreen to protect from the adverse effects of UV light, plus mineral makeup are absolutely essential.
DIY FACE MASK RECIPES
Apply to face and neck too if you wish. Leave for 10 minutes, splash away with tepid water and apply skincare. Not suitable for pustular acne, eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis.
Dry and Dehydrated Skins: Mash half an avocado and mix with one dessertspoon of oats in a bowl, slather onto face and neck, and eat the other avocado half while it sets! Avocado is high in vitamins A and C and the oats exfoliate and restore moisture.
Combination Skin: Add a dessertspoon each of spirulina powder and honey; the spirulina has powerful antixodiant properties and helps to balance skin’s microbiome, whilst the honey has antimicrobial and hydrating benefits.
Rosacea: Mix together one teaspoon of turmeric and two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, mix well and sweep over the face with a cotton wool pad.
Remember, skin is an organ, is ever-changing as we are and is a great reflector of what is going on inside our bodies. Keep a good eye on it and listen to what it tells you.
For more diet & skin tips follow me @Emmacolemanskin