Coming into the first months of spring its common to experience the so-called winter skin. The last traces of the summer sun have gone away, the cold and dryness of the Scandinavian weather has led to our skin feeling dry and dull.
While this is common, and climate will always affect the way we feel and look, it can be a good time to help your skin and yourself to some nourishment. As an herbalist, I always find it important to remind us that it’s as important to work from within as it is to work externally.
In other words, what we put on our skin is as important as what we put in our mouths, and vice versa.
There are actually quite a few things that can help, but my top five tips for moisturizing skin are as follows; water, vitamin C, good fats, skin supporting herbs and a little ingredient called hyaluronic acid.
So, for dry and dull skin, we need to start with water, moisture. Here in Sweden most people start their day with a cup of coffee, and though coffee being and amazing herb, it is stimulating and diuretic, so if drinking coffee make sure to drink extra amounts of water. Instead, maybe start your day with a glass of lemon water, hydrating and full of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps our connective tissue and is also aiding in the absorption of other nutrients, so it really is a perfect thing to start of your day with.
Good fats are also so important, we’ve all heard about omega 3 right? Well, being aware of our intake of fatty fish, nuts, and seeds, such as pumpkin, chia and hemp can actually help our skin look plumper and more glowing. The reason is that these good fats are part of building the fat layers around each skin cell. Omega 3 has also been shown to help improve inflammatory skin conditions.
There are many different herbs to be used for skincare, but when it comes to getting that moisture back, I found herbs containing mucilage can be very helpful. Especially if you’re also feeling dry in your mucous membranes such as your eyes, nose, and genital area. Maybe you’ve applied Aloe vera on burnt and dry skin, that gooey cooling sensation can be very calming and moisturizing. My favorite is Marshmallow root, drinking it for a few weeks does wonders for that dry, dull feeling. It’s easy to combine with other herbs, which can also be preferrable since itself is a cooling herb. Mix it with for example Calendula, the all-star of skin herbs, to get a more balanced drink that also helps with detoxing!
When it comes to really hydrating and skincare there’s something called hyaluronic acid. It’s a kind of polysaccharide and as herbalist David Hoffman (2003) wrote best described as the “universal component of the extracellular fluid that fills the spaces between the cells of body tissues”. So, what does it do and why is it so sought after in skin care? Well hyaluronic acid is vital for hydrated, lubricated tissue as well as cell function as it’s able to hold more water than any other natural substance (ibid.). In other words, it helps the skin bind water, which equals moisturized skin. Now hyaluronic acid has become more and more popular in skincare, which is understandable. However, the way it is produced varies, so keep an eye out for the natural sources.
Finally healthy habits must be mentioned, good sleep, some exercise, healthy diet, and kind natural skincare is obviously the building blocks for happy skin all year round.