For our skin to look and feel smooth, firm and hydrated we need an adequate amount of both water and oil in our skin. The oil is secreted by the sebaceous glands which lubricate the surface of the skin. Moisture also needs to be present in the cells of the skin and this comes to the cells via the bloodstream. Therefore, there are actually two different types of dry skin. The first is the type tht affects all of us and people under thirty-five which is simple dry skin. Simple dry skin results from a lack of natural oils. Where the more complex dry skin lacks both oil and moisture. With this you find fine lines, brownspots, discolouration, sagging skin and other signs of aging.
In general dry skin looks dull, can appear flaky and scaly, may have the appearance of crinkled parchment paper and there may be the feeling of tightness in the skin. On severely dehydrated skin there may be chapping and cracking paticularly to the exposed parts of the skin such as the hands and face. Many of us will experience some degree of dry skin now that winter is approaching. Dry skin can get aggravated by environmental factors such as wind and cold as well as extreme sun exposure. Dry skin can also develop from chemical exposure, excessive bathing, use of harsh soaps and dietary deficiencies. Fair skinned people are also more likely to experience dry skin especially as they age. As we age all skin becomes thinner and dryer.
Treating Dry Skin with Cold Pressed Oils and Essential Fatty Acids
Being that dry skin is in part due to a lack of natural oil in the skin, it makes sense to add some natural oils both through the diet and topically to the skin. The best oils to add are essential fatty acids or polyunsaturated fats(also know as vitamin F). These can be added to your diet in the form of raw nuts, seeds and legumes. As well add them in the form of vegetable oils such as borage oil, grapeseed oil, sesame oil and primerose oil. It is important not to heat, cook or process these oils when using the oil in food or topically on the skin. Always buy and use cold pressed oils as any heating will destroy the valuable nutrients of the oil and create free radicals.
Some topical nut and seed oils that are ideal for dry skin include: Sweet Almond oil, Apricot Kernal oil, Peach Kernal oil, Sunflower oil and Macadamia nut oil. These oils can be used at 100% on their own or add to them small amounts of borage oil, primrose oil, vitamine E oil ( the later usually comes from capsuls and is often more expensive).
Other Vitamins and Minerals for Dry Skin.
Zinc and Kelp are important for healing and protecting dry and aged skin. Kelp is a form of seaweed and is a good source of vitamins and minerals that can help heal and balance the skin. Zinc is an important mineral for the skin and can be consumed in sunflower seads, pumpkin seeds and many types of seafood such as oysters and sardines. Another important nutrient to heal dry skin and to protect skin in general is Vitamin A or Carotinoids. Add this to your diet by eating orange and yellow fruits and vegetables to your diet such as sweet potatoes, yellow peppers, carrots and apricots. Carrots in particular are helpful in healing and hydrating dry skin. Carrots themselves can be graded or mashed and used in masks for dry skin. Alternatively add carrot seed or carrot root oil to a base nut oil such as Sweet almond oil or to plain white lotions to hydrate and repair dry skin.
Herbs and Essential oils for Dry Skin
Some of the best herbs for dry skin include calendula, comfrey, and aloe vera. Calendula and comfry can often be found in different lotions and creams as well as aloe vera. The Aloe Vera gel can be used to sooth and heal the skin by taking the gel directly from the plant and applying it to the skin.
Essential oils for dry skin include; Rose, Sandalwood, Frankincense and Lavander. These can be added to a plain base cream or to a base oil such as Apricot Kernal oil. Also consider adding and using humectants such as glycerine, honey and vitamin E which can be added topically to the skin or found in holistic blends and products.
Avoid skin exposure to extreme temperatures. This includes over exposure to sun, wind and cold. Dress appropriately for the whether and wear skin protection. Reduce your exposure to chemicals such as cigarette smoke. Also limit or eliminate consumption of soda pop, caffiene, alcohol, fried foods and animal fats. Drink as much quality filtered water as possible. Limit the amount and length of the hot showers you take as they can be dehydrating to the skin. Consider steaming the face over hot water to add moisture to the skin or spritzing the skin with rose or lavender hydrosol (by products of essential oils of rose and lavender). Some dry skin is inevidable especially as we age and throughout winter, but these precautions and recommendations should help reduce the discomfort and the effect of dry skin.