During a New York City winter, skin conditions often emerge, and existing disorders can quickly get worse. The cold, dry weather combined with even drier apartments can strip our skin of its essential oils, leaving it vulnerable. Add the stress of the holidays and the lack of hydration that often accompanies the colder months, and we have the perfect recipe for our skin becoming cracked, itchy, and flaky.
Before being tempted to just tough it out until spring or pack-up and move to a more temperate climate, remember that your acupuncturist has tips to help you stay healthy and make the most of winter. Below is my skincare advice to give your skin the best chance of looking its plump and juicy best all winter long.
- Get Enough Rest. During this time of year, we are often burning the candle at both ends trying to meet year-end deadlines, as well as manage the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and family obligations. Sleep is the ultimate rejuvenator, and the winter season sets the tone for more of it. While most of us do not have the luxury of sleeping in, we often do have the choice of going to sleep earlier. A 15 to 30-minute power nap during the day is another excellent way to restore your body and maintain a state of vibrancy.
- Drink More Water. Hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate some more. With the cooler temperatures, it is easy to reduce your water intake too much. Dehydration causes fatigue and makes your skin look dry and aged. We are about 60% water and require a steady supply to maintain the healthy function of all our organs, including your skin. Setting a morning, afternoon, and evening hydration routine can help ensure that you get enough water throughout the day. Remember, if your urine is not clear, chances are you are not consuming enough water.
- Use a Humidifier. Maintaining moisture levels in your home and office is an essential step in keeping your skin healthy through the winter months. Our heating systems can further reduce humidity levels, which are naturally lower during the winter. The regular use of a humidifier will help maintain the humidity of your environment and allow your skin to retain more moisture and stay healthy.
- Maintain a Clean Diet. Winter and the holidays come hand-in-hand with comfort foods that are often rich and high in calories. Lots of holiday parties and social events can cause overindulgence in both food and beverage. Commit to eating clean and seasonal food at least 3 to 4 days of the week. Roasted, baked or steamed, dark leafy greens, root vegetables, and whole grains keep your gut performing optimally. Regular healthy bowel movements will keep your body detoxified and help your skin look its best.
- Exercise, Your Body, and Your Face. Exercise is a vitality booster, but don't forget your face. My anti-aging secret weapon for glowing, toned skin is exercise because it brings blood and qi to your face. Some of my favorites are toning the neck and the uplift and tuck.
- ~To tone the neck, gently extend your head back and look at the ceiling. Place one of your hands on your chest, and you should feel the skin on the front of your neck get tighter. Now pucker up and kiss the sky. I usually do three sets of 10 repetitions.
- ~The uplift and tuck will tighten and tone the face and sculpt your jawline. Look in a mirror and adjust your posture as needed. Gently smile so that the corners of your mouth slightly turn up. Try to move your ears up and back. Hold this position for a count of ten and release. Remember to breathe deeply to provide oxygen to the skin.
- Never Fail to Cleanse & Moisturize Your Face at Night. If you don't do anything else for yourself, make sure to follow this rule. Our skin rejuvenates at night while you are sleeping. Cleansing at night stimulates cell turnover and blood flow to the dermis, where collagen and elastin give your skin a tight and toned appearance. Over cleansing will dry out the skin, so during the winter, only do this at night. In the morning, use lukewarm water to invigorate and follow with your favorite toner. Don't hesitate to be generous with moisturizer morning and night.
- Use Sunscreen. Protecting your skin from the sun is essential year-round, even during winter. Most aging signs are sun damage-related and are preventable. Sun causes premature wrinkling, and dark spots called hyperpigmentation. If you are using mineral makeup, you have adequate protection. If you're going to be outdoors, wear SPF 30. At Olo, we often recommend the Coola Sunscreen available at Bigelow.
- Exfoliate. Use a gentle exfoliant several times per week. Honey with sugar encourages cell turnover as well as hydrates the skin. Add a little lemon juice to brighten the skin once a week. Exfoliation gives the skin a nice smooth texture and restores luminosity.
- Love the Skin You're In. Have a positive mental attitude. Shake your beauty, and have fun. Smile just because it feels so good. Your cells respond to positive cues, and you look and feel better. When I was little and used to pout, my grandmother would say, "Be careful your face may get stuck that way." As it turns out, she was right on. We hold certain expressions that can contribute to aging. A smile produces endorphins, the feel-good hormone, and gives the muscles of the face a nice lift. Give it a try!
- Try an Acu-Facial. If you need or want some extra help getting your skin to look its best, or are looking to prevent future damage, my signature acu-facial is for you. Acu-facials start from the inside out, with acupuncture and body realignment, and end with custom formulations crafted with the highest quality herbs and essential oils for your specific skincare needs. Acu-facials are personalized, seasonally specific, and can help your skin look and feel it's best throughout the winter.