Cold, harsh weather sure can be a reminder to reach for your favorite facial moisturizer. Remember, though: Hydrating the skin on your face year-round is an important part of a maintaining a healthy, radiant complexion—whether you’re noticing some dryness or not.
Well-hydrated skin is plump and firm and feels smooth to the touch, thanks to the lipid-rich outermost layer of the epidermis having enough water to help flush out toxins and carry nutrients to your skin’s cells. Hydrated skin also tends to be less sensitive to irritants and germs that slip through that lipid barrier when your skin lacks moisture. A dehydrated complexion, on the other hand, loses elasticity, feels rougher and can become flaky, itchy, red or even inflamed. And without moisture, skin cells shrink, exaggerating the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
Here’s our holistic view on things you can do to help hydrate and improve the appearance and health of your complexion.
Moisturize daily. Apply a moisturizer within three minutes of using your cleanser or taking a shower; your lotion can absorb more easily when your pores are open. It will instantly hydrate the top layer of skin and create a “seal” that prevents moisture from escaping as your skin dries off. Consider choosing a product that contains hyaluronic acid, a natural, ultra-hydrating ingredient naturally found in the outer layer of your skin. You should notice an overall improvement to the condition of your skin with continued use.
Eat a nutritious diet. A parched complexion can be treated beneath the surface, too. Drinking plenty of water and eating a healthy skin diet can help keep your face looking supple and nourished. Foods flush with essential fatty acids, like walnuts, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, salmon and olive oil, can improve your skin’s hydration level by strengthening the lubricating lipid barrier, thereby locking in moisture before it can escape.
Find balance and get your rest. When you’re stressed, the last thing you may think about is your skincare routine. But beyond that, stress can actually release chemicals that can inflame (and dry) your skin. Do your best to manage tension and worry, which includes getting a good night’s rest: Poor sleep not only worsens stress, but can affect blood circulation to your skin, meaning it gets less of the oxygen it needs to stay moisturized.
More: Chronic Stress and Your Body
Quit smoking and limit alcohol. The toxins in nicotine restrict blood vessels, depriving your skin of that oxygen that’s so important to hydration. And because alcohol is a diuretic, drinking too much can leave your skin as thirsty as it leaves you; alcohol also depletes your complexion of vital nutrients, such as vitamin A, a key antioxidant that aids in cell regeneration.
More: Six Surprising Ways Smoking Hurts
Consider your environment. Your home and habits could be zapping moisture from your face, too. Use your humidifier year-round; both summertime air-conditioning and wintertime furnaces can steal moisture from your skin. Aim for a humidity level between 30 and 50 percent. Hot water, exposure to sun and harsh cleansers all decrease your skin’s hydration, too. Adapt to lukewarm showers, particularly when your skin seems particularly dry, and switch to mild cleansers.