Fall is all about gathering resources and preparing for a cold and fruitless winter – a process that takes place all around us. Animals gather food and prepare cozy shelters and plants drop off leaves and seeds as resources are concentrated into the roots. As the seasons change, this process also starts in our bodies. We begin to crave heavier meals like stews, seasonal squashes, yams and nuts – foods that are nutrient dense, keeping our bodies warm and our immune systems in check.
Another thing that the fall season brings with it is dry skin. Even in this especially damp/humid Pacific Northwest environment I can feel my dermal layer start to tighten and wither a bit. Why is this?
Several factors play into this, like the awesome fact that we are mirrors of the world around us. Just like sap in a tree retreats from the leaves back into the branches and trunk, our circulatory system responds to the chill in the air by pulling back a little. Pores on our skin constrict and blood circulation doesn’t reach quite as far. This helps preserve and concentrate body heat in the interior of the body, but leaves the exterior layers less nourished and more susceptible to wind and dryness. If you combine this naturally occurring phenomenon with the dry heated air in homes and the beloved long hot showers that further strip away moistening oils from our skin, you’ve got a recipe for a chapped, cracked and uncomfortable outer shell.
Here are five crucial tips for keeping your skin moist and nourished this season.
- Drink more hydrating liquids: This includes lemonade, herbal teas, cider elixirs, fruit waters and plain old water — the possibilities are endless. It really is rewarding to prepare a simple healthy elixir in the morning and sip on it throughout the day. It feels good to stay hydrated with something tasty and healthy that also bolsters metabolism and energy. Consuming plenty of fluids helps hydrate the skin and has an added benefit of curbing the appetite for snacks.
- Up your oil intake: Take 1-3 tablespoons of a healthy oil like olive, fish, coconut, flax or avocado daily. Fish, flax and hemp oil are high in omega-3’s which have additional anti-inflammatory benefits. Follow up with a lemon water to ensure good absorption of the fats.
- Dial in your diet: Eat seasonal, moistening foods to hydrate tissues from the inside out. These include yams, hearty squashes, pears, apples, nuts, dark leafy greens and whole grains. Beware of processed foods and unhealthy comfort foods — they can be appealing at this time of year, but end up causing sluggish digestion and inflammation. Also, be mindful to minimize dehydrating caffeine and alcohol beverages, opting for that healthy new tonic you whipped up for yourself!
- Moisturizer your outer shell: Add a couple of ounces of oil to your warm bath water. Better yet, massage the oil directly into your skin before and after the bathing process. The warm bath opens the pores and helps the oils to penetrate and moisten the skin more effectively. Great oils to use for this include jojoba, sweet almond, olive, avocado or coconut. You can also add a few drops of your favorite aromatherapy oil to soothe your soul as well as your skin.
- Humidify your home: Use a humidifier in your home when the heat is on. Humidifiers infuse the air with moisture and help your skin stay hydrated and supple. You can also get moisture into the air by putting a bowl of water on a wood stove or a damp sponge on baseboard heaters. Having house plants and indoor fountains are two other ways to get moisture into the air.