The turn of the season is a great time to assess your skin’s overall level of health. Much like changes in the weather, changes in the skin are your body's way of guiding you to figure out how to better support yourself as the days grow shorter. Do you need something more, less, new, or to stay the course? This is an opportunity to tune in and set yourself up for the healthiest possible months ahead.
The shift from summer heat to cooler, windblown months is exciting to highlight from a skin perspective. In skin care, the cooler months are often associated with dryness, as we hear from customers that their biggest concern is DRY skin. For this post, we consider how elements from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory along with topical support and simply paying attention to signs and symptoms can help counter dryness as the weather turns cooler. By keeping our defensive layers strong during cooler months, we can avoid sickness and/or recover swiftly, find ease in our daily habits, and stay hydrated with a bright complexion.
Understanding Dryness in the Body
The change of season signifies a shift in the body’s ability to balance internal systems with the external environment, with our skin being the connection or barrier layer between the two. Dry skin has many causes and varies by individual. Certain factors to consider for dryness include: cool weather, which is constricting, and also wind, which can create an imbalance of fluids, both of which lead to slower blood circulation and therefore potential dryness in the body and on the skin surface. Changes in humidity or drastic changes from indoor heat to dropping temperatures outdoors also have drying effects on the skin, requiring the internal system to work harder to compensate. Dry heat indoors and spending more time indoors overall also impact moisture levels on the skin surface, as do lower amounts of stimulation or exercise, which slow circulation.
Common signs of dryness are: scaly, rough, flaky, red, and irritated skin (face & body), constipation, thirst, dry eyes, headaches, sinus and respiratory issues, joint pain, fatigue, and muscle tension (especially neck and shoulders). To counter or balance dryness, it’s important to focus on boosting our overall immune health, which we can do in a couple of ways: by increasing movement to stimulate blood and fluid to bring nourishment to the skin, and by properly hydrating, both with diet and internal factors as well as topically.
How To Counter Dryness, Internally
Eating with the seasons is not only nutritionally beneficial, but creates much less stress on the digestive system. Ease and simplicity is a good thing for maintaining health. The cooler months are a great time to focus on iron rich foods, hydrating fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, as well as foods high in fiber.
Some of our favorite foods for moisture and warmth include:
- Hydrating seasonal fruits & vegetables: Dark leafy greens, sea vegetables, broccoli and cauliflower, celery root, winter squash, fresh herbs, pears, apples, cranberry, grapes, persimmon, brussel sprouts, chicories and hearty lettuces, fennel, kohlrabi, celery root, squash, cabbage, celery, zucchini, bell peppers, turnips, daikon radish.
- Healthy fats: Healthy fats are another form of hydration for the skin and whole body, and it’s important to be sure you’re getting enough in your daily diet. This includes: olive oil, Omega 3’s from seafood or supplementation, nuts and seeds (in moderation), grass-fed butter or ghee, avocado, whole egg, coconut.
- Iron-rich foods: To nourish and support your blood system. This will help naturally balance histamine levels, promote healthy circulation, and support efficient detox pathways. Foods high in iron include: animal proteins and seafood, dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, lentils, beets, whole grains, pumpkin seeds, seaweed.
Additionally, how you eat, and eating habits, are just as important for maintaining balance, ease, and boosting hydration in your daily habits:
- Warm & cooked meals: Eating warm and cooked foods in cooler months creates more ease for healthy digestion. Too much raw and “cold” foods are considered constricting and inhibit digestive function. Our natural tendencies shift towards soups and roasted foods, lightly steamed, gently wilted or sauteed vegetables, and finding the right balance between warm meal components and any lingering crisp, cleansing vegetables or juice-packed fruits. Select heartier (watery) greens for salads like romaine, little gems, radicchio and then combine them with cooked/warm elements like grilled meat or vegetables, chickpeas, soft-boiled egg, etc. Starting the day with a warm breakfast is a great start.
- Avoid drinking fluids while eating meals: Be sure to get adequate water/hydration during the day, but for best digestion, limit beverages while eating. Too many liquids with meals can decrease (dilute) beneficial enzymes needed to digest proteins, carbs, fats. Also, avoid ice and icy beverages in cooler months. Cold beverages are more constricting, which inhibits digestive function. We recommend drinking room temperature or warm water, when possible.
- Limit caffeine: Excess caffeine can be dehydrating and a stressor on the system. Knowing your limits and best practices is important. If you do consume caffeine, we recommend limiting it to the morning and be sure to drink a few extra glasses of water to help counter caffeine intake effects and dehydration. If you are having more than 12oz of caffeine each day, and on days of heavy exercise exertion, remember to drink more water.
And lastly, here are our favorite ways to simply boost drinking more water throughout the day:
- Start your day with 16 oz. of water first thing in the morning: The body naturally dehydrates overnight and hydrating first thing in the morning is a good way to jumpstart the system and also stimulate thirst specific to your needs for the day.
- Add flavor: If you’re someone who doesn’t love drinking plain water, try adding a squeeze of lemon or lime, a splash of apple cider vinegar, or herbal teas. Carbonated water is fine, but because it is gas-forming and can potentially disrupt digestive function, it’s not the best way to hydrate. If you like carbonated water, drink it in addition to your daily ounces of still water.
- Make it easy: Have water nearby, in large and easy to fill containers, in vessels you love.
How to Counter Dryness, Topically
To complement internal strategies for hydration, you may need to adjust your topical products and regimen to strengthen barrier function and promote adequate moisture levels. Between extreme shifts in weather and spending more time indoors with artificial heat, we suggest paying close attention to how your skin looks and feels, as that can serve as a guide. Moreso, we encourage you to reach out to us at info@marieveronique for our guidance on your skin care needs for fall and winter months. It’s possible nothing will need to change — if your skin feels good and you feel good in general, great, your skin doesn’t need the additional support.
However, at a high level, it’s likely you could benefit by simply adding Barrier Restore Serum to ensure you are supporting your skin’s barrier layer. (Reminder, it’s there to protect you!) Here are some other considerations for taking good care of your skin during cooler months, along with our favorite product recommendations:
Cleansing: Preserving the skin’s natural oils and only cleansing 1x per day is a great practice for cooler months (and always!). We recommend skipping a morning cleanse — simply rinse your face with water, alternating between warm and cold temperatures — and cleanse with your PM regimen. Note: Our cleansers do not remove the skin’s natural oils, so if you feel the need to cleanse more than once per day, you may do so. We recommend: Pure + E.O. Free Oil Cleanser or Replenishing Oil Cleanser.
Humectants: Our Mists/Tonics contain humectants that help keep the skin hydrated and facilitate the penetration of our serums to boost hydration levels. We recommend: Balancing HypoTonic or Pre + Probiotic Daily Mist.
Serums: Serums are a complex, targeted skincare product that deliver a high concentration of ingredients to optimize moisture levels. We recommend: Barrier Restore Serum.
Moisturize with oils: Oils are the best form of a daily moisturizer and are important for nourishing the lipid layer of the skin. They moisturize by replenishing our lipids that naturally exist in our own skin. We recommend: Barrier Lipid Complex on its own, or you can blend it with your current Marie Veronique oil.
Masking in cooler months: We recommend adding or increasing masks in your weekly routine in cool, dry weather. Micronutrient + Hydro Mask can be used 2-3x a week, or even as frequently as every night, to make sure skin stays hydrated during the cold, dry months. This is especially helpful for those affected by indoor dry heat. For extra hydration, apply the mask as your last step in your nightly routine and sleep in it. This mask provides intensive moisture, protection, and can quickly revive dull and dry skin.
Whole body skin care: Of course we support good hygiene, but we believe for healthy skin function, it’s best to avoid excess use of soaps and antimicrobial products (soaps, hand sanitizers) on the body, which can contribute to barrier dysfunction and microbial imbalance. Soaps alkalize the skin’s pH and eliminate delicate species that we need for balance and protection. We suggest using soap for hands and private parts, but avoid using soap on the rest of the body — e.g. torso, limbs, face, etc. — or you can also use an oil (we like sunflower oil) in the shower to oil cleanse your body, then rinse with warm water and apply additional oil/moisturizer. If you struggle with dry skin in cool weather, we also recommend showering or bathing less, to help retain moisture in the skin and be sure to be layering oil or moisturizer daily. We recommend: Organic unrefined sunflower seed oil, followed by organic unrefined shea butter. After showering, apply sunflower seed oil to the whole body while the skin is still damp, then ‘seal’ in moisture with a thin layer of shea butter as your occlusive. This is the most biomimetic to the skin.
Caring For Your Skin & Whole System in Cooler Weather
We simply breathe, move, eat, adjust, dress differently as the weather shifts, and there's so much we can do to take care of ourselves and welcome the change. Consideration for maintaining a healthy immune system, finding ways to support your nervous system and balance stressors, and proper blood circulation are all important for skin health, this season, and every season. Embrace the season change and allow it to renew you this winter, in small and mighty ways.
Have a question or need more information about how this applies to your specific skin concerns? Click here to get personalized advice from our estheticians, or browse our Product Recommendations.