12 tips for glowing skin and healthy hair this winter
Winter is almost here, with darker nights and colder weather on its way. It can seem all too easy to stick to a healthy diet and head to the gym or for a morning run when the weather is sunny and warm, but many of us struggle with our diet and exercise routine when it's cold outside. Depression is more common at this time of year too (1), with many people suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which can make it hard to motivate yourself to get off the sofa!
Winter is also harsh on your skin and hair – and we're not just talking about women; men, this affects you too! Cold winds, icy temperatures and central heating can really take their toll on your skin and hair, leaving them dry, dull and lifeless. Lucky for you then that the Expertrain team have been working away in our (cosy) offices to find a solution – well, 12 tips, to be exact – to ensure your skin and hair stay healthy this winter. Want to know more? Just keep reading...
#1. Stay hydrated
Number one on our list is something that pops up so often on lists of health and fitness tips – hydration. We know that hydration is essential for our bodies; after all, our bodies are up to 60% water (2). Water not only helps us to digest food and flushes waste product from our bodies, it's also vital to ensure our skin stays soft and plump. Central heating and hot water in the winter months can really dehydrate your skin, and whilst you might find yourself downing glasses of water and fruit smoothies during the summer months, most of us drink a little less than we should when winter rolls around. Remember that it doesn't just have to be cold water that you drink to stay hydrated – tea, coffee, fruit juice, smoothies and even a mug of hot water with lemon all count, or why not try some fruit tea or green tea if you're looking for a caffeine-free beverage? Staying hydrated helps to prevent dry, flaky skin and irritation, so your skin will be glowing all winter long.
#2. Scrub up
Facial scrubs are ideal to use all year round to exfoliate, removing dead skin cells and leaving your complexion looking brighter. During the winter months, when your skin may be drier and flakier than usual, using a gentle scrub once or twice a week will help keep skin healthy. Avoid the chemical-packed scrubs at your local chemists and make your own at home using olive oil, brown sugar and some honey for a gentle yet effective face and body scrub.
#3. Don't forget SPF
When it's 25 degrees outside, most of us wear a facial moisturiser that contains SPF, or slather on sunscreen before we go out to soak up some vitamin D. Don't forget though that there are still damaging UV rays present, even on wintry, overcast days. On snowy days, you'll find snow reflects the sun's rays, so it is even more important to ensure you're wearing sunscreen on exposed areas – don't forget to wear a lip balm with SPF too if you're going to be outside for extended periods of time (3). It's best to choose a natural moisturiser with SPF, such as one from Aubrey Organics or another organic skincare brand, as these have fewer additives and preservatives than other brands.
#4. Enjoy a cool shower
It can be tempting to crank up the heat when taking a shower on icy days, but stick to cool or lukewarm water instead, as this can save you money and protect your skin. Taking long, hot showers can strip moisture from your skin and hair and can exacerbate a flaky scalp. So turn the temperature down a notch and stick to a 10-minute shower; you'll still feel refreshed and ready to go!
#5. Tackle a scaly scalp
A dry, itchy, flaky scalp is not only irritating, it can be embarrassing too. Try taking cooler showers to prevent stripping moisture from your scalp. A pre-shower scalp massage with vitamin E, coconut oil or olive oil can work wonders, just make sure you shampoo thoroughly to avoid greasy strands. Tea tree oil is a natural cure for dandruff, so try adding a few drops to your shampoo or pick up a natural tea tree shampoo at a health food store. Apple cider vinegar can also cure a flaky scalp caused by product build-up; it's naturally detoxifying, so use it as a rinse to remove flakes. Just don't forget to shampoo it out so you don't smell of vinegar all day long!
#6. Get your vitamins
You know the importance of a varied diet packed with fruit and vegetables; during the winter months it's more important than ever to ensure you're getting enough vitamin C. Not only does this support your immune system (4) but it also helps boost collagen production, helping your skin stay plump and healthy. Ensure you're eating plenty of dark, leafy greens and citrus fruits, which are a great source of vitamin C.
Omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats have their part to play in maintaining healthy skin and hair too. Get your daily dose by adding salmon, oily fish, avocados, olive oil and nuts to your diet to ensure skin stays moisturised from within.
#7. Treat your tresses
Whether you're male or female, we could all benefit from shampooing our hair less. Look at your usual haircare routine, then reduce it slightly for the winter months – if you shampoo daily, cut back to every other day, so you don't dry out your hair and scalp. Make sure you don't skip conditioner, which not only de-tangles hair after your shower, but helps protect it against the elements. Consider using a home-made hot oil treatment with coconut oil (warm it gently in the microwave) for soft, shiny hair and a moisturised, flake-free scalp. Ensure your hair is 50-60% dry before blow-drying, as blow-drying wet hair can cause breakage and exacerbate dandruff - it could even cause hair loss.
#8. Protect your peepers
Central heating and cold wind can lead to dry, red, irritated eyes. Make sure you're getting plenty vitamins in your diet – vitamins A, C and E help keep your eyes healthy (5). Staying hydrated can also help to prevent dry eyes, and carry saline eye drops with you to refresh your eyes on the go. On cold, windy days, swap contact lenses for glasses to protect your eyes from the elements.
#9. Try natural skin care
It's true that “You are what you eat”, but you are also what you put on your skin, so opt for natural skin care this winter. Avoid using facial skincare products containing alcohol, which can dry out your skin. You may find you need to use a richer moisturiser to keep dry skin at bay. Greek yogurt makes a great once-a-week facial wash; it contains lactic acid, which helps to exfoliate skin.
Chow down on brown rice, quinoa, garlic and onions whenever skin feels dry (why not try one of our recipes?) - these are excellent sources of selenium, which boosts skin's elasticity. Or you could relax with a moisturising face mask made from bananas, avocados or egg yolk.
#10. Dress for the occasion
Sub-zero temperatures have you huddled up indoors? You can still enjoy your morning run when it's freezing outside, but make sure you dress for the weather. A woolly hat, gloves and scarf can help to prevent wind burn, protecting your skin and hair from the harsh elements whilst also keeping you snug and cosy! There's no reason why you can't stay active in winter; but you might need to rethink your running wardrobe...
#11. Keep active
Exercise can help to flush toxins from the body, promoting clearer, healthier skin (6) and getting endorphins pumping, which can boost your mood and help prevent SAD. Plus the more active you are, the more likely you are to make healthy food choices (7). So staying active this winter is vital to ensure you stay healthy. You don't have to go for your usual outdoor run though; take an indoor pilates or yoga class, sign up for dance classes or try something new like boxing or rock climbing.
#12. Keep toes and fingers warm
Woolly socks and gloves are super-snuggly and can help to keep your toes and fingers warm which will prevent dry skin on your hands and cracked heels. Try adding rosemary to your cooking or taking gingko biloba supplements which can help to improve blood circulation, preventing cold hands and feet. Wearing gloves whenever you're outside (not the fingerless ones!) will help protect skin from chapping.
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