The 9 Best Ways To Achieve Naturally Glowing Skin In The Dead Of Winter
Skin looking a little ashy and dull lately, even though you haven't changed your skin care routine? Unfortunately, that's par for the course this time of year—and that bright, dewy skin you so crave, well, that's going to take a little work.
"Cold dry weather is not your skin's friend," says Britta Plug, holistic esthetician and mbg Collective member. And that dullness, she says, is mostly due to the fact that your top outer layer of skin is constricting and drying up, which essentially shuts down circulation and causes a buildup of rough dead skin cells.
Things like drinking too little water, eating the wrong foods, being super stressed, and failing to adapt your skin care regimen to the elements can all exacerbate the overall blah factor of your face, too. Thankfully, there's plenty you can do to boost your vibrancy—and we're not talking about slathering on a thicker moisturizer and a little bronzer. Here, learn the holistic strategies skin care experts swear by.
Yep, you can exfoliate all through winter and it won't dry you out (here are some great exfoliating products for winter). In fact, exfoliating is essential for removing that dead, dry outer layer of skin so your moisturizers can penetrate more effectively and give you that dewy finish you so desire. Exfoliate a minimum of once per week, suggests Plug.
Do a tea-infused facial steam.
In cold weather, Plug loves to follow exfoliation with a little DIY facial steam to boost circulation and infuse skin with moisture before sealing it in with a face oil or cream. Simply pour almost-boiling water into a bowl, add a tea bag for a little aromatherapy action (chamomile is soothing and anti-inflammatory), then lean your head over the bowl and make a little tent with a towel to create a steam bath for your face. "Do this no more than five to 10 minutes, though," says Plug. "More than that, and you could actually lose moisture."
Run a humidifier every night.
Less labor-intensive than a facial steam, running a humidifier requires basically zero effort but can make a major impact on skin's hydration and overall brightness. Without one, the ultra-dry indoor air from our heating systems will essentially suck moisture from our skin, says Plug. Having a bunch of houseplants has also been shown to boost indoor moisture levels and skin hydration.
Slather on the hyaluronic acid.
After washing (or steaming) your face, slather on some hyaluronic acid (which is actually incredibly soothing, despite its name). "Hyaluronic acid is found naturally in the body, so I like using this serum to restore moisture in the skin," says Lisa Airan, M.D., a dermatologist specializing in high-tech, natural skin care. "Your face immediately looks clearer and brighter." Like honey, hyaluronic acid is considered a humectant, making it very effective at drawing moisture into the top layer of skin.
Add a drop of geranium oil to your moisturizer.
Not only does geranium essential oil calm skin irritation and inflammation, improve elasticity, and balance out skin whether it's dry or oily, but it also boosts blood circulation for a subtle natural glow, says Mariza Snyder, D.C., functional wellness practitioner, aromatherapist, and author of The Essential Oils Hormone Solution. Add a drop of geranium oil to your go-to moisturizer or any face-friendly carrier oil such as jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, or avocado oil. Never use it undiluted.
Try facial gua sha.
Another brightening method Plug adores, and which she uses on her clients daily, is facial gua sha—a scraping technique originating from traditional Chinese medicine that's performed with a jade gua sha board. The scraping motion drains puffiness, improves circulation and glow, and stimulates collagen and elastin almost immediately. Want to give it a try? Invest in a gua sha tool, watch this facial gua sha tutorial, and try it at home.
Drink water (with a pinch of salt).
Because our bodies essentially leach moisture when the air is too dry, it's especially important to stay hydrated. But before you start guzzling, give your water a boost. "So much of this super-filtered water that we drink doesn't have any mineral content, so it tends to flush through us. If you don't have enough electrolytes in your tissues, you're going to pee it out and not retain your hydration," says Plug. "I like adding a pinch of high-quality sea salt, like Celtic sea salt. Nettle tea, which is high in minerals, can also help with hydration levels."
Get a dose of good fats and good bugs.
Two go-to supplements Plug swears by for clear, glowing, hydrated skin: "I love supplementing with fish oil, and it has tons of anti-inflammatory benefits for skin conditions like rosacea, eczema, dermatitis, and acne," says Plug. "For people with any surface irritation or an impaired skin barrier, this usually indicates that the gut microbiome needs support, so we definitely want to take a probiotic."
Finally, prioritize your sleep.
No, your mom didn't tell us to say this. A sleep-deprived body is a stressed body, and when you're stressed, your body isn't physically able to dedicate the necessary energy for optimal cellular repair or collagen production (along with digestion and other essential functions), which can lead to dull-looking skin. To avoid this, shoot for seven to eight hours a night, and try to infuse some meditation into your daily routine, suggests Dr. Airan.
Stephanie Eckelkamp is a writer and editor who has been working for leading health publications for the past 10 years. She received her B.S. in journalism from Syracuse University with a minor in nutrition. In addition to contributing to mindbodygreen, she has written for Women's Health, Prevention, and Health. She is also a certified holistic health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She has a passion for natural, toxin-free living, particularly when it comes to managing issues like anxiety and chronic Lyme disease (read about how she personally overcame Lyme disease here).