It happens to the best of us-that moment of embarrassment when we peel off winter gloves to reveal skin resembling a dried-out riverbed or that moment of shock when we notice the soles of our feet looking like old sandpaper.
It happens to the best of us–that moment of embarrassment when we peel off winter gloves to reveal skin resembling a dried-out riverbed or that moment of shock when we notice the soles of our feet looking like old sandpaper.
As we age, our skin’s ability to retain moisture lessens, and the hands and feet often suffer most from extremes in temperature. It’s all too easy to neglect the extremities during the harsh winter months, and skin becomes dry, rough, and sometimes cracked. So what can be done to keep that skin supple and healthy?
Working from the outside in, common sense dictates that we should wrap up well in winter. Invest in good-quality boots, socks, and gloves, and always wear a hat in cold weather. Try to resist the urge to warm up cold hands or feet too rapidly once indoors.
Moisturizing products offer a much-needed skin boost, and there are numerous plant-derived substances that act as excellent emollients. When scanning the shelves of your natural health care store, look for aloe vera, rosehip oil, and calendula (from marigold petals), long recognized for their soothing, healing properties, and jojoba and sunflower oil, which penetrate and lubricate skin.
Peppermint is a favourite ingredient for foot balms because of its soothing and cooling effect on skin, along with its pleasant, invigorating smell. Rich and protective shea butter comes from the kernels of the African karite tree fruit and provides a brilliant barrier for the skin from harsh weather, as does cocoa butter. Non-plant derived ingredients such as lanolin (from sheep’s wool) and beeswax also add a protective layer to the skin.
Try applying a rich moisturizer and wearing cotton gloves on your hands or socks on your feet overnight. Soak skin in warm water and bath salts prior to moisturizing. You can also add a little more elbow grease to the task by exfoliating with foot brushes and pumice stones. Soak the skin first, and avoid areas of broken skin.
The Inside Tip
The third line of defence against winter’s cold grip lies within. The essential fatty acid omega-3 is key to maintaining healthy skin and preventing dryness. One of the main dietary sources of omega-3 is oily, cold-water fish, including salmon, tuna (not canned), trout, mackerel, and herring. Try to regularly include fish in your diet, or take fish oil supplements. Thoroughly refined fish oils will not contain any of the harmful substances sometimes found in fish, such as PCBs and mercury. A vegetarian alternative with ample omegas is flaxseed oil. Ask a natural healthcare specialist for information on products and dosages.
Many vitamins also play an important role in keeping skin healthy, including vitamins A, E, and B2 (riboflavin). Eating a balanced diet, including a good variety of fruit and vegetables, is essential for adequate vitamin intake, and a multivitamin supplement is an important complement.
Following these simple skin care steps will prepare you to enjoy the best that winter has to offer and is guaranteed to put a soft spring in your step!