As a naturopathic doctor, I look at the skin as a reflection of the body’s internal state of health. This is definitely true for myself – my skin always gives away when I have strayed from a clean diet, stress management and regular exercise. However, I often forget that many people and patients are unaware of this important connection. When patients come to me with skin concerns, a session of dietary and lifestyle counselling is always in store!
Up until recently, I have focused my skin care treatment plans to be from the inside out, entirely. Up the anti-inflammatory foods and supplements, encourage healthy fat intake, reduce the sugar and dairy, improve liver function and get the bowels moving. Ensure optimal detoxification, get regular exercise, balance mood and optimize sleep.
But what about what patients are putting ontheir skin? While it can take some time for patients to change what they’re putting intheir body, it’s a little easier to get them to change what’s going on it. And as the largest organ of detoxification, it is important to support the skin’s function from the inside and out.
As someone who has struggled with acne only during my adult life, changing my skincare products has made a huge impact on reducing breakouts, redness and blemishes while moisturizing and rejuvenating my skin. A regular part of my skin care routine is the application of an all-natural skincare oil before bed. This allows adequate time for the oil to be absorbed without the interference of makeup, and for the skin to soak up all of the benefits they have to offer!
Winter is settling in – I love the feeling of warming up after time spent outside with fresh, cold air on my cheeks. What I don’t love about winter is battling dry skin!
Dry skin is common in the winter as the outside air contains less moisture, and inside heating of homes and workplaces further removes moisture from the air. At minimum, battling dry skin in the winter means maintaining optimal hydration and ensuring essential fatty acid (EFA) intake is high. It also means protecting your skin’s oil barrier with products that are nutritive, rejuvenating and moisturizing.
Here are the top 5 things to prevent and treat dry skin:
- Hydrate. Not sure how much water you should be drinking? Take your body weight in kg and divide by 8. That’s how many cups you should be drinking daily! IE a 56 kg person should be drinking 7 cups (or 1.75 L) of water daily. Add an extra cup in for every caffeinated or alcoholic drink you have during the day. Herbal tea may count as a water substitute (but juices and sodas don’t!).
- Top up your EFA levels.Essential fatty acids are best obtained from a high quality, concentrated fish oil. Aim for a complete fish oil that contains EPA, DHA and GLA. Some fish oils are even formulated specifically for skin health.
- Add a humidifier or essential oil diffuser to your home to add some moisture to the air. It’s also an excuse to let your laundry and dishes air dry!
- Ditch the harsh products. Using products with drying ingredients, like benzoyl peroxide, leave the skin dry and irritated. Can you pronounce the ingredients on your skin care product labels? If not, ditch them and find an all-natural replacement. Opt for the Moisturizing Skin Serum below!
- Don’t over-do it. Washing your face with a cleanser more than once a day disrupts the skin’s natural oil production and barrier. I recommend patients just wash with water in the morning and remove make up at night with a gentle cleanser. Side note – coconut oil makes a great cleanser!
Moisturizing Skin Serum Recipe
To restore dry topically, a nutritive oil that is moisturizing and rejuvenating is best. I suggest a combination of carrot, oat, sesame oil as well as Argan and rosehip with your choice of essential oil for scent. St. Francis Herb Farm makes a ‘night oil’ that contains carrot, oat and sesame oils.
Night oil – blend of carrot, oat and sesame:
Carrot– carrot oil is rich in vitamin A, B, C, D and E as well as linoleic acid. Carrot oil is especially beneficial in dry skin as it has rejuvenating properties.
Oat– rich in skin-soothing emollients, oat kernel oil reduces skin irritation and sensitivity.
Sesame– an excellent moisturizing oil
Rosehip –rich in vitamins, anti-oxidants and essential fatty acids. Rosehip oil is rejuvenating and absorbs easily into the skin.
Argan – rich in vitamin E and essential fatty acids, Argan oil is also lightweight and absorbs well into the skin to moisturize and rejuvenate.
- Mix equal parts of St. Francis Night Oil, Rosehip Oil and Argan Oil into a glass small bottle (ideally with pump).
- Add 6-10 drops of an essential oil of your choice (rose, geranium and chamomile are great options). Shake well.
- Apply a dime-sized amount of oil to face nightly, before going to bed. Avoid contact with eyes.
Dr. Leigha Saunders, ND is a licensed naturopathic doctor practicing in Uxbridge, Ontario. She maintains a busy and diverse practise with patients who are ready to transform their health to gain energy, balance mood and lose weight. But what she’s really passionate about is helping people just like you discover that food is the most powerful form of medicine you could ever take!
Dr. Saunders received her Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, Canada.