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Skin deep

Winter can be hard on your skin when dryness, eczema and psoriasis all put it under extra strain. Find out how to have a glowing complexion all winter long

Our skincare needs during the winter are very different from the summer months,” says Ingrid Hume of beauty company Pravera. “In the winter environmental influences can cause havoc with our skin. Skin that is dried out can become sore, itchy, irritated and more sensitive. The best way to care for your skin in winter is to pamper it with natural and organic products made with plant-based ingredients that nourish and protect the skin. Cleanse skin correctly with a natural and organic cleanser which doesn't include SLS or parabens. Apply a rich moisturiser morning and night as well as a facial oil to boost skin nourishment and hydration. Look for products that contain aloe vera, jojoba oil, shea butter and cocoa butter as these all promote nourished healthy skin.”

Inside out

“If your skin is dry or dehydrated avoid ingredients like petroleum, mineral oil and sodium lauryl sulphate, especially in your face and body washes, and look for a natural moisturiser containing a high content of shea or cocoa butter,” says Niamh Larkin, beauty specialist at Evergreen in Mainguard St, Galway. “Drinking plenty of water is so important for dry skin conditions. Have a good skincare routine and try supplementing your diet with good quality oils - ideally fish oils, but nut/seed oils are a good vegan alternative.”

Look for skincare products made from oils such in omega-3, -6 and -9 oils such as hemp seed, rosehip, sea buckthorn, flaxseed and borage.

Other dry skin beauty tips

  • Eat high water content foods such as cucumbers and oranges
  • Avocados are rich in vitamin E and antioxidants
  • Orange and yellow vegetables are rich in vitamin E
  • Eat nuts every day - they are rich in vitamin D. Brazil nuts contain selenium which can help dry skin.

Eczema support

“Eczema and psoriasis are an inflammatory response to changes in the body - these can range from food intolerances to changes in weather or stress levels,” says Niamh Larkin. “A good essential oil supplement as well as soothing skincare such as shea butter and coconut oil can be invaluable. Also keeping a food journal to find out your triggers can be extremely helpful. A hydrating balm or cream can ease itchy or dry skin - hydration saves the day!”

“Eczema or atopic dermatitis is very common in Ireland and can be found in any age group, from babies to the elderly,” says Ingrid Hume. “Eczema causes the skin to become dry, itchy, red and cracked. It can be caused by a number of factors including an allergic response to skin irritants, such as parabens or SLS in skincare products. Eczema can flare up more frequently in winter due to dry air and indoor heating drying out the skin. The best way to keep eczema under control is to use a natural and organic fragrance- and colourant-free product. This will nourish, moisturise and care for the skin and help to avoid flare-ups.”

Other eczema beauty tips

  • Avoid excessive milk, peanuts, fish, soy, wheat, citrus, chocolate and eggs - thought to be the main allergens for eczema
  • Take a probiotic, or multi-strain live bacteria supplement - this can help heal the gut and improve eczema
  • Take omega-3 fish oils - to reduce inflammation and keep skin moisturised from the inside out
  • Include cinnamon, ginger, rosemary and garlic in your diet - they are anti-inflammatory
  • Eat sprouted grains, fermented foods and antioxidant-rich vegetables - they are alkaline and help to heal the body
  • Selenium, grape seed extract and olive leaf extract all help skin function
  • To avoid irritation go for soaps made with plant oils and detergents which do not contain sulphates.

Anti-ageing

“Natural plant extracts and oils that are high in antioxidants such as ginkgo biloba, green tea, hyaluronic acid and pomegranate help to reduce the signs of ageing,” says Ingrid Hume. “These are naturally moisturising, penetrate the skin and retain skin moisture levels, boost firmness and help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Coenzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant that stimulates cell production, encourages the skin to regenerate and helps to protect the skin from free radicals and wrinkles.”

Other ageing skin tips

  • Regular gentle exfoliation to reveal newer skin cells becomes more important as skin ages so that older cells do not sit on the surface of the skin. This stimulates circulation, cell renewal and allows moisturisers to work more effectively.

Going natural

“Ingredients wise SLS, parabens, silicones and synthetic fragrances and colourants all aggravate the skin, causing skin irritations, redness and sensitivity,” says Ingrid Hume. “Products that do not contain synthetic fragrances and colours are more gentle and kinder to the skin. Soothing and calming natural and organic skincare products with ingredients such as plant extracts, shea butter, calendula, aloe vera and jojoba oil as these nourish, moisturise and care for the skin. It also keeps the skin hydrated.”

“Ingredients like calendula, chamomile, lavender and almond oil are great for sensitive skin,” agrees Niamh Larkin. “Moisturising twice daily with a natural gentle moisturiser that is free from mineral oils can help to regulate the skin, making it less reactive over time.”

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