When it comes to skincare goals, many of us want to achieve radiant, “glowing” skin. You only need to scan any beauty counter or skincare aisle to check our fixation is undeniably real. However, as the cold weather sets in, pursuing that glow can feel a little elusive.
Research has shown that low humidity and low temperatures can lead to dry, itchy skin and a decrease in skin barrier function. At the same time, harsh winds and indoor heating can also dry skin out.
To help you through the winter months, we’ve put together a holistic guide to help you achieve healthier, glowing skin with the help of naturopath and nutritionist Lucy Burgess. “So many things contribute to skin health, which is why it’s best to take a holistic approach rather than thinking you might achieve great skin from one cream or supplement,” says Burgess.
Get a good night’s sleep
Did you know that poor sleep quality can lead to signs of skin ageing and even weaken the skin’s ability to repair itself at night? Yep, research points to a link between poor sleep quality and signs of ageing and diminished skin barrier function.
Because sleep is the time the body repairs itself, the effects of not getting enough shut-eye can be apparent in your facial appearance the next day: dark circles under the eyes, paler skin and more fine lines are just some “cues of fatigue” individuals have reported with sleep deprivation.
On top of this, says Burgess, not getting enough sleep “can cause an increase in cortisol (our stress hormone) levels, and what you’ll soon discover is when you’re stressed, your skin health suffers. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and practice good sleep hygiene such as focusing on relaxation techniques that work for you and avoiding electronic devices in the leadup to bedtime.”
Eat the rainbow
There’s a reason why we’ve been told to eat the rainbow. “Incorporating colourful plant-based foods in your diet such as berries, leafy green vegetables, broccoli, carrots and oranges means your feeding your skin lycopene, vitamins A, C and other phytonutrients that promote skin health,” says Burgess.
“Essential fatty acids, particularly omega-3 fatty acids, such as ALA, EPA, and DHA, are anti-inflammatory and play an important role in supporting skin structure and function, a healthy skin barrier, and hydration. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Plant-based sources include avocados, walnuts, flaxseeds chia seeds, and hemp seeds.”
Nourish your gut
The relationship between gut health and skin health is an important one. Research suggests that alterations in the gut microbiome, including low diversity, can have an impact on certain skin conditions.
“It’s important to keep the good bacteria in your gut happy and thriving with both probiotics and prebiotics,” says Burgess. Probiotics are the live organisms known as bacteria and some yeasts that live throughout our gastrointestinal system to keep it balanced, happy, and healthy.
“Probiotics can be ingested to help restore and build up the good bacteria in your gut. Natural sources include yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso and kombucha,” she says.
Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that selectively feed the good bacteria in your gut. “Fibre is an important prebiotic, and contributes to healthy, regular bowel movements. ,” says Burgess.
Try: Keep your gut happy with Supercharged Food Love Your Gut Synbiotic Powder
While it’s easy to drink enough water during the summer with the heat and outdoor activities making you want to quench your thirst, it can be harder to stay adequately hydrated in winter.
“Along with its vital impact on many other bodily functions, adequate hydration is so important for skin health, says Burgess. “Not only does it improve skin hydration, but adequate water intake also supports the digestive system in moving waste through the bowels. Dehydration can lead to constipation meaning toxins aren’t effectively excreted from the body and are then recirculated, contributing to inflammation and poor skin health. Aim for 2-3 litres of water per day.”
Manage your stress levels
Ongoing stress can negatively impact our skin health. “When we find ourselves in a stressful situation, our brain releases what is known as our stress hormone; cortisol. High cortisol may cause sebum dysregulation from oil glands contributing to acne formation and poor skin health,” says Burgess.
“Chronic high levels of stress, and thus, cortisol can also activate inflammatory responses, directly impacting our skin.”
Rethink your skincare routine
Many of us love our facial scrubs or mud masks to keep our skin looking radiant, but we might need to dial down on the use of these products during winter.
“Our skin is naturally dryer in the cooler, winter months so it’s important to keep it hydrated. Exfoliating and cleansing is still an important part of your skincare routine, even in winter, to eliminate dead skin cells, but remember not to overdo it!” says Burgess.
“Switching to an oil-based moisturiser, cleansing balm or cleansing oil is a good idea to protect the skin barrier, and keep skin feeling soft. Check-in with your skin and you might find it needs extra TLC; swap an exfoliating mask for a hydrating one.”
Try: Nourish the skin with Salt By Hendrix Mermaid Facial Oil or with Antipodes Divine Face Oil Organic - Avocado Oil & Rosehip.
Reviewed by the healthylife Advisory Board July 2022