Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,
Acquire the air.”
Mushrooms, Sylvia Plath
A Fresh New Look for Spring Skin
Are you emerging from your winter hibernation and looking at your skin in the cool morning light of spring, only to be faced with a sallow complexion, cracked heels and blotchy red spots that make you want to pull that duvet back up over your head? Don’t worry, follow these top tips and get a head start on spring-cleaning your skin, that way, by the time it’s t-shirt and shorts weather, you’ll be raring to go!
Exfoliate, Exfoliate, Exfoliate
Over the cold winter months it’s all too tempting to sleep in your socks, jump straight from a cosy robe into the shower, dress quickly and pay little attention to all that skin that rarely sees sunlight. This means that when spring arrives it can be a shock to observe the cracked, dry and hard skin on the soles of your feet, your knees and elbows, or the dull and pocked skin on your thighs and arms.
Exfoliating, when done well, can gently slough off the old, dead skin cells that cause that grey pallor and unhealthy appearance as well as stimulate circulation to get the new crop of skin cells in tip-top shape.
Go gently, go slowly, and work in towards to the heart in long sweeping strokes up the legs and arms. Use a flexible, exfoliating hand-mitt for most of the body and develop a morning, pre-shower routine to really kick your skin into action. Be careful not to exfoliate too aggressively and avoid exfoliating the more sensitive skin on your face.
Natural Homemade Chemical Facial Peels
To exfoliate the face and clear dead skin cells, combine natural fruit acids with the protein-digesting effects of specific fruits. Try a pineapple or papaya facial cleanser as these contain bromelain and papain that not only break down proteins like keratin that forms tough skin cells but also provide an anti-inflammatory action to soothe the skin.
Fruits such as lemons, limes and apples are also natural sources of the alpha-hydroxy acids found in chemical face peels. Half a teaspoon of lemon juice applied to the face for ten minutes before rinsing will act as a gentle chemical peel due to the citric acid in the juice. Alternatively, use applesauce, apple cider vinegar, crushed blackberries or even tomato juice as a natural chemical peel. Nature’s pantry is also nature’s beauty counter.
What goes on your skin is as important as what you’ve just brushed off through your daily exfoliation, so make sure to invest in a good quality moisturiser. This does not mean buying the most expensive and flashily packaged jar of unguent in the store. Instead, pick a product that is free from parabens, phthalates, alcohol and other chemical nasties that can damage the skin and even adversely influence the endocrine system. Make it cruelty-free and get the bonus of an added karmic glow.
Try to moisturise immediately after bathing or showering as the skin can better absorb moisture at this time and you’ll also be preventing a drying effect that happens as the lingering moisture evaporates. If the cold winter air has turned your skin red raw then opt for a cooling moisturiser containing aloe and other anti-inflammatory agents.
Blemish-prone skin can benefit from products containing vitamin A (retinol) although be sure to use sunscreen if your chosen moisturiser is particularly high in retinol as this can increase your skin’s vulnerability to ultraviolet light damage. Rosehips are a natural source of pro-vitamin A so are a great option for those with fine lines, wrinkles and blemishes.
Those with fine lines and wrinkles, free radical damage from smoking, or conditions such as dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema can often benefit from a cream high in vitamin E as this maintains the health of skin cell membranes to promote good hydration and antioxidant protection and is thought to have an immunomodulating effect.
Start Early with Sunscreen
It might seem gloomy and grey outside but it’s still possible for the sun’s rays to damage your skin. Even before you begin reclining on a beach and soaking up the warm sun you will likely want to choose a daily moisturiser that has at least SPF 15.
Carry on reading for more tips on spring-cleaning your skin, including how to eat your way to naturally healthy skin!
And, if you’re plagued by acne or want to know more about how your diet affects skin health, be sure to treat yourself to a little spring-time reading with Eat to Beat Acne!