What Happens to Your Skin in the Winter  

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Health concerns during winter’s cold and flu season are usually focused on immunity, weight gain and mental health. While these areas of health do tend to suffer more during the colder months, there’s another area of the body that also needs extra care and protection in the winter: Your skin.  

Most of us don’t consider the winter season a time for increased skin care. In fact, many people abandon their sun screen routines during cloudy, cold days. Who needs SPF when the sun is hiding? While the sun rays are weakest during the winter, we still need to protect ourselves from sunburns, dryness and environmental damage. Here’s what happens to your skin and what you can do to protect it this winter season.   

Winter Skincare and Why You Need It  

Cold weather temperatures can draw moisture out of the air, and your body. These conditions produce significant dehydration — the “freezer burn” effect. Skin becomes itchy, dry and scaly, and uncomfortable and lips can get chapped very easily.  These conditions can set your skin up to be at risk, causing chalky, dry or red, irritated skin that needs extra support.  

In addition, while the sun may not be as bright or warm, you can still get a sunburn when it’s overcast and in the wintertime. In fact, sunburns or skin issues can be worse in the winter because the sun’s rays can get magnified through the clouds. In the snow, the sun’s amplified reflection can cause serious burns and lead to premature aging and skin cancer. This is why prioritizing your skin in the winter is crucial to not only protect against cold weather skin threats, but prepare it for the change in weather to come. Our skin is always at risk.  

Natural Ingredients, Supplements, and Tips for Winter Skincare 

Luckily, research shows that some unique natural solutions can help prevent sunburns and protect the skin from environmental and cold weather exposure.  

Starting with natural-based sunscreens with SPF 15-20 is a great first step to protect and prevent winter sunburn, and are especially important in any areas with snow due to reflection.    

Another remedy for winter skin dryness is an omega-3 essential fatty acid supplement, taken orally. These essential fats moisturize and defend skin from the inside-out, while and help treat eczema, psoriasis, flaky skin and acne.   

Vitamin D supplements are also important for winter skin health, since we get less sunlight in the winter, and therefore less Vitamin D. Without adequate levels of this nutrient, skin can become much more dry, flaky, chapped and problem-prone. I recommend Vitamin D-3 between 600-1000 IU/day.  

opens in a new windowMedicinal mushroom formulas are also helpful. Many mushroom varieties are sources of vitamin D and other important nutrients and antioxidants that support skin, immunity and other key areas of health during the winter, and throughout the year.   

The ingredient  opens in a new windowpure honokiol from magnolia bark, has been identified in research as a powerful antioxidant to protect the skin against solar radiation, reduce inflammation and possibly help protect against skin cancer.1   

Another important antioxidant-rich supplement for skin health is an extensively researched  opens in a new windowTibetan Herbal Formula. Over 30 clinical studies and hundreds of preclinical studies demonstrate the powerful benefits of this formula, including research in skin health and rejuvenation. A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology showed the formula supports collagen production and serves as a powerful skin repair agent.2 With a comprehensive profile of unique botanicals and minerals, this time-honored formula reduces inflammation, boosts circulation, fights infections and supports immune health, and supports skin healing, in addition to other key benefits—making it an ideal complement to your winter health routine.   

Hydration is key during the winter. When you combine cold weather with holiday food indulgences, your skin can suffer from serious dryness and a lackluster appearance.  Sugar and alcohol are especially dehydrating, which in turn can trigger more sugar and alcohol cravings. Drink extra water and eat a bit of lean protein to help break the cycle.  

In addition, an indoor humidifier is important to keep moisture in the air during the cold, dry spells. This can be especially helpful at home when heaters and furnaces are going full blast. Lack of moisture and dry air can lead to increased infections and reduced immunity. An air humidifier will help protect the skin and respiratory tract from drying out, and can also help reduce transmission of colds and flus.   

This winter, enjoy the beauty and stillness of the season, and remember to give your skin a little extra TLC beneath your chilly weather layers.  

Sources: 

  1. Dunaway S, Odin R, Zhou L, Ji L, Zhang Y, Kadekaro AL. Natural Antioxidants: Multiple Mechanisms to Protect Skin From Solar Radiation. Front Pharmacol. 2018;9:392. Published 2018 Apr 24. doi:10.3389/fphar.2018.00392 

  1. Aslam MN, Fligiel H, Lateef H, Fisher GJ, Ginsburg I, Varani J. PADMA 28: a multi-component herbal preparation with retinoid-like dermal activity but without epidermal effects. J Invest Dermatol. 2005 Mar;124(3):524-9.  

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