Moisturize from the Inside Out
Skin health begins on the inside and what you eat can affect how efficient your skin is at maintaining a healthy protective barrier. “Antioxidants help prevent environmental damage and strengthen collagen elastin,” says Zeichner. Antioxidant-rich citrus fruits like oranges and pineapples help fight free radicals, while green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach and broccoli boast superpower levels of vitamin K, vitamin C, carotenoids and magnesium—all essential nutrients to glowing, naturally hydrated skin.
Healthy fats like legumes, beans and raw nuts are also key building blocks of skin cells, enhancing the rejuvenation and replenishment of skin. Watery fruits and vegetables (like cucumbers, tomatoes or watermelon) are replete with juice, which quenches with every bite. Limit alcohol and caffeine intake since both dehydrate the body.
Humidify the Air
Home heating systems can make already dry air even more drying—particularly if you have a forced air heat system, which zaps humidity levels. While skin typically needs more than 30 percent humidity to stay hydrated, homes heated with furnaces can hover at less than 10 percent humidity for months at a time. “A relatively easy fix is to buy a humidifier,” says New York City dermatologist Neal Schultz, M.D.
Humidifiers moisten air by aerosolizing water from a chamber, which must be replaced with fresh water daily to prevent bacteria and fungi from growing. There are two types you can choose from: steam humidifiers boil water to add warm vapor to the air, while cool water humidifiers use different mechanisms to release a cool mist. “My choice is the cool water ultrasonic because I think it works the best and is the quietest,” says Schultz of the device that pushes microscopic droplets of water into the air with vibrations.
Treat Your Skin Overnight
You may have heard of the body’s natural circadian rhythm—our internal biological clock that regulates several processes including sleep. But what you may not know is that skin transforms itself through the circadian rhythm as well, according to New York dermatologist, Jeannette Graf, M.D. During daylight, skin goes into “protective mode,” slowing cell turnover and producing more oil as a shield. At night while you’re sleeping, cell regeneration kicks up as skin goes into a restorative mode, which is an especially advantageous time to target dry skin.
Make it a habit to apply hydrating serums, moisturizers and treatments before bed, so skin has an assist while doing its most intense work of the 24-hour cycle. Slather extra dry areas like hands and feet with shea or cocoa butter and then slide on cotton socks to intensify the effect (and keep your sheets clean) as your cells work their intuitive magic.
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