Over the River and Through the Woods with Your Skin
By Terri Harper, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, Clinical Director, Spa Medical
It’s that time of year to travel over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house. Whether you are going to grandmothers or New York’s Rockefeller Center ice skating, you will need to prepare your skin for cold, dry weather. It is not unusual to have excessive dryness, itching and even more wrinkling, especially around the eyes. Hopefully, the explanation and tips below will help your skin stay beautiful all winter long!
Our skin has a built-in mechanism to protect it from the winter elements. This skin barrier prevents moisture from evaporating off the skin while creating a protective barrier that keeps allergens and free radical irritants from penetrating into the skin. This barrier, made of lipids, can be damaged by common travel things like lack of sleep, harsh detergents, shampoo, soaps, and grandmother’s dry heating furnace, and even stress! When the skin barrier is broken, water is lost from the cells resulting in the skin looking dry and wrinkled, and may even itch. This is very noticeable around the eyes where the skin is thin, fragile, and lacks oil glands. The good news is there are things we can do to reverse some of the effects of winter, travel skin! I have included a list of tips by Dr. Leslie Baumann, a board-certified dermatologist, New York Times best-selling author, and CEO of Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute in Miami.
▪ Take your own pillowcase and wear long-sleeve PJs to protect your face and body from harsh hotel detergents.
▪ Unless you have oily skin, bring a creamy non-foaming cleanser to use on your face
▪ Use a barrier repair moisturizer twice a day between now and thanksgiving to help build up your skin lipids for the trip. (My favorite is Medical Barrier Repair by Epionce®! This stuff works miracles and is available at Spa Medical!)
▪ Consider bringing or borrowing a humidifier for your hotel room.
▪ Take glucosamine supplements for a week prior to travel to help your skin build up hyaluronic acid levels which can help the skin hold onto water.
▪ Try to eat flax seeds, salmon, and other sources of omega 3 fatty acids on the trip to help reduce skin inflammation and dryness.
▪ Wear soft fabrics. Wool and other rough fabrics can further damage the skin barrier
▪ Add oils such as Argan, Safflower, or Almond oil to your bath or to damp skin while on your trip. Avoid olive oil which contains oleic acid that can actually impair the skin barrier and cause more harm than good.
▪ Try to rest and relax. Stress has been shown to dehydrate your skin!