As the season turns to chapped lips and dry skin, I am frequently asked about additional measures my patients can take to improve skin hydration. Why even care about dry skin? We all know that dry skin can lead to irritation and itching, but that's usually when it's at its most severe. Even mild to moderate instances of dryness can can lead to weakened collagen, fractured elastin, and early sagging and wrinkling.
Loss of water from the dermis is preventable, even in the coldest of climates. The skin is a dynamic organ, and meeting its demands in Winter is not as challenging as you might imagine. Moisturizing with a ceramide-based moisturizer (i.e. First Aid Beauty's Ultra Repair Cream) is a must. Bathing no more than once a day (osmotic forces can paradoxically pull water from you through evaporation after bathing) is a must. But what are some novel therapies we can develop to keep water in the skin?
I've developed a bathing stew or “Neti Pot for the skin” to help assist with water retention within the dermis. The bath contains 3 critical ingredients to transport water through skin, remove impurities, and improve dermal function. Antioxidants and skin purifiers are equally critical to round out this recipe to best weather low temperatures and fierce winds.
1) Cococut Oil (2oz, about $2.50)
2) Grape Seed Oil (4 oz, about $5)
3) Raw Honey (1oz, about $1)
The benefits of this ingredient have been touted far and wide. The hydrating properties are due to medium-chain fatty acids. These smaller molecules are capable of blending between skin cells (keratinocytes) and helping to ionically defend against water evaporation. The added benefit for 2oz of coconut oil in this mix is its antioxidant property. Thanks to cphenolic compounds (specifically ferulic acid and p-coumaric acid), any polluting elements to which your skin has been exposed over the day will be neutralized by this charged particle.
Grape Seed Oil
I've included GSO because of the remarkable properties of linoleic acid. Sure, this fatty acid has anti-oxidant and emollient properties, but what earns its place in our concoction is 1) A regularization of sebaceous glands found in the dermis and 2) improved migration of fibroblasts, responsible for laying down new collagen. Patients sebaceous gland activity, often responsible for more or less greasy faces, is mitigated by linoleic acid. That's tremendously powerful for maintaining the body's own blend of natural oils (ceraminds, triglcyerides, and free fatty acids) to combat suface impurities. Collagen is the ground substance of good skin. These tight braids are the cables that insure the continued stability of our own skin. Improved fibroblast motitlity means new collagen fibres and stronger, healthier looking skin.
Don't stress, 1oz of honey in our skin stew will not make you sticky, but will help to promote wound healing from micro-traumas in the skin that stem from unnoticed daily insults to the epidermis (i.e. wind chapping or harsh hand soaps). Moreover, honey is an unparalleled holistic antimicrobial. The skin's surface milieu consists of 10-20 benign microbes, some of which if given access to the dermal plexus of blood vessels, can spread to vital organs. Propolis, the active found in raw honey, does a tremendous job decreasing the more virulent bacteria and viruses that occupy the stratum coreum.
The basic steps of hydration, such as moisturizers and infrequent bathing, are super helpful for the prevention of wintertime dryness, but for those of us willing to take a few extra steps to optimize hydration, a Neti Pot for skin can make all the difference. Once weekly, will improve sebaceous activity, fibroblast activity, retained moisture, and great micro-trauma healing.