November 1, 2020
Addressing Dry Skin In A Holistic Way
Although historically a combination skin type, I’ve been prone to drier skin most of my life. This is probably genetic as my mom has extremely dry skin too. Drier skin has kept me mostly breakout-free the majority of life, which I was grateful for especially throughout my teen years.
But as I’ve gotten older, and in postpartum, the drier side to my skin has become increasingly aggravated – dry skin on my cheeks and across my T-zone, dry elbows, and an even drier scalp. Especially as temperatures drop and we enter the full swing of Fall, dry skin can become a real issue for many of us.
It can feel tempting to treat these areas topically, applying lotions, serums and elixirs to ease dry skin quickly but, this almost always only treats the symptom and not the underlying cause. Keeping in mind that you skin is your largest organ, addressing any skin issue from all angles in a truly holistic way can be more effective and longer lasting.
Here are a few ideas to help you ease dry skin issues which, can become exacerbated because of the dry winds which kick up during the fall and winter seasons and associated dehydration.
First and foremost, if we are experiencing dry skin issues, we need to take a look at our hydration levels. Drop the extra doses of caffeine, kick the sugary drinks (and yes, this applies to “healthy” drinks like Kombucha which are often filled with sugar), and increase the amount of good, clean, high-quality water you are consuming throughout the day. Dehydrated skin can exacerbate dry skin problems.
If you find it difficult to drink enough water, fancy it up with a squeeze of lemon, thin slices of cucumber or electrolytes. Homemade ginger tea is a great way to get more water into your body too. Simply increasing your water intake might help ease itchy, inflamed skin.
And speaking of inflammation, it might be time to look at your diet. Skin issues can be signs of detox symptoms, food sensitivities, toxicity or dietary stress. Often there are sneaky, seemingly unsuspecting foods, which might be increasing your body’s inflammation response leading to dry skin patches or other skin issues.
As you age your reaction to certain foods might shift and change so just because you haven’t historically responded poorly to a food doesn’t mean it will always stay that way. If you’re having skin-related issues, it can help to take a look at the biggest inflammatory culprits in your diet which include: eggs, soy, gluten, dairy, citrus and shellfish.
To target food sensitivities, allergies and intolerances you might experiment with what’s called the “elimination diet.” This diet is not intended to help you lose weight like a typical diet but, is instead used to help you discover if you have any food-related issues arising.
The elimination diet takes place in two parts. First, is the elimination portion. You eliminate all of the foods in your diet that contain the items listed above plus you might also consider eliminating sugar, caffeine and alcohol as well. You eliminate all of the foods from your diet for at least 2 to 3 weeks.
Second, is the reintroduction phase. Slowly, one food at a time, you reintroduce each food to your diet and note any symptoms that arise such as skin breakouts or other inflammatory responses. Once you’ve ascertained which foods, if any, trigger sensitivities or reactions, you can proceed to eliminate them from your diet and over time you will see healthier, clearer skin.
On a personal note, I’ve focused on hydration first and foremost. This is especially key as a nursing mom with an exclusively breastfed baby. Nursing requires tremendous hydration and as much as I’ve focused on my water intake, the truth is, it still isn’t enough!
As I introduce more solid foods to my daughter, I’ve also found it fun to incorporate hydrating fruits such as watermelon, pineapple, apple and coconut water to our diet. These blend easily in a food processor and make for a fun, cooling, hydrating juice that both of us can enjoy. I find these special blends help keep me hydrated while also cooling down my daughter because baby’s are unable to regulate their body temperature until later and often run hotter.
To further address my dry skin, I’ve added more DHA prenatal supplements of healthy Omega oils to my daily supplement regimen as well as more fatty foods such as avocado, organic goat’s butter, collagen and ghee to my cooking. Traditionally, I keep a plant-based diet but find these fatty foods help my skin and my breastmilk supply while nursing.
Externally I’ve shifted to thicker, more lush and heavy face creams, especially at night, to soothe my skin and strengthen its protective barriers. A few times a week I will layer this with a yummy face oil.
Hopefully these tips are helpful for anyone else out there suffering from dry skin issues like me. The most important thing to keep in mind is that as with any other health related issue, skin problems should also be addressed from multiple angles in a truly holistic way.
Below are some recommended holistic yoga flow practices too!