While working the craft fair last weekend, I got to see a lot of skin up close and personal. Not that kind of skin, sheesh. Hands! I saw a lot of hands as I shared samples of my Fit For Real Life Lotion Bars.
I saw people with rough skin on their knuckles, some with cracked finger tips, others with dry and ripped cuticles, and of course just plain ‘ol dry skin. They loved the Bars but around the 40th person I met with dry skin challenges, I decided I’d do a blog to give you 10 quick tips to help yourself have more nourished skin.
First, you need to know there are two kinds of signals your body responds to. When I coach my clients in fitness and body care, I teach them how to view their body as an ecosystem which they are in charge of caretaking.
Just like in Nature, there are internal signals and external signals that influence how the body ecosystem responds.
Internal signals are stuff that arises from within your body. External signals are stuff that comes from outside of your body.
Dryness or Dehydration?
Did you know dry skin and dehydrated skin are two different things?
Dehydrated skin is usually characterized by a lack of elasticity in the skin. It will look more flat or thin and fine lines will show more easily.
Dry skin can have a range of symptoms, from red or rough patches, to scaly and flaky skin.
Dehydration comes about from external signals. Dry skin comes mostly from internal signals.
Dehydrated skin is lacking enough water, while dry skin is lacking enough oil. You need both adequate oil and adequate water for your skin to be deeply nourished.
When you think of dehydrated skin, think of skin that’s been exposed to harsh winds while out adventuring, or dry climate (like Utah) where the average humidity is sub 30%, or skin that’s been exfoliated too much.
Dry skin, on the other hand, is skin that isn’t making enough oil, usually* because of something going on internally such as a hormonal imbalance, the type of nutrition you consume, or your genetics.
*I say ‘usually’, because you can also develop dry skin from using a too harsh skincare product, or due to scrubbing at it too intensely.
And while skincare products that provide the right amount of oil and lock in moisture are an important part of addressing dry and dehydrated skin, there’s more you’ll want to address. Let’s get into those now…
Internal Signals To Nourish Your Skin
Limit or eliminate inflammatory foods such as sugar and high fructose corn syrup, gluten, conventional dairy, and seed oils. Ideally, remove them all for at least 30 days, then reintroduce one at a time over the span of a few months to see how your body responds. And if you’re not going to remove them all, then pick 1 or 2 that are just not as “worth it” to you and cut them out.
Get enough healthy fats in your diet. Essential fatty acids help to build cell membranes and create nourished skin. You must consume them in your diet because your body does not make its own. You can consume them via pastured meat, oily fish, flax seeds, nuts, or as a supplement. Just remember, if it’s a source of healthy fats, that means it’s NOT high in protein (looking at you, people who call nuts a good source of protein.)
Consume adequate protein in your diet. Protein is needed for an incredible array of functions in your body, including brain function, keeping your immune system working well, and building tissues. Most people don’t eat enough protein to ensure all of the things protein should be used for get done in the body, so bump yours up. The amount to aim for daily is one gram per pound of bodyweight.
Get your hormones tested regularly and address underlying issues if you find a hormonal imbalance. You’ll want to test TSH, Free T4, Total T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, Estrogen, Estradiol, Testosterone, Progesterone, and DHEAS. Possibly an adrenal test as well to see how your cortisol rhythm is doing.
Get your blood glucose and insulin response in check. When blood glucose is not being well-managed in the body, it creates an inflammatory state. In addition, it’s a precursor to diabetes, which causes a whole host of other problems in the body once it develops. Buy a simple at-home monitor and start checking your blood glucose when you wake before eating, and then at 1 hour after each meal. Your number should be below 100 in the AM (and far lower, ideally) and below 120 after meals (again, lower is better.)
External Signals To Nourish Your Skin
Hydrate with water and electrolytes. Adding electrolytes to your water helps the water become more absorbable by your body. If you don’t have an electrolyte packet with you when drinking water, just add a dash of Real Salt to your water. It’s not the same as adding electrolytes, but it works in a pinch.
Lower the temperature of your shower. Too hot water dries the skin out and causes more moisture to be removed. If you find that you just can’t get warm, and need that blasting hot shower, consider addressing your autonomic nervous system, as that will factor into how warm or cold you feel. You can start by using the things I teach in this course.
Put a humidifier in your bedroom and sleep with it on. If you can add humidifiers elsewhere in your home or work space, do so.
Ditch the harsh and chemical-laden soap that strip the natural oils from your skin. Your skin should be slightly acidic, with a pH balance between 4 and 6.5. Many soaps actually make your skin slightly more akaline. Soaps also tend to strip the skin of its lipids, which influences its hydration status. Get a better, more natural, soap. And better yet, stop using soap as frequently. Washing your hands after going to the bathroom? Yes, use soap. Rinsing off when you didn’t get super dirty or sweaty prior? No need for soap.
Address your stress to protect your skin barrier. Mental and emotional stress can negatively influence your skin barrier, causing more inflammation and slowing wound healing. It’s not easy to address some stressors, like a job you hate but that is currently paying the bills, but remove what you can and find strategies to manage what you can’t.
I hope you found this quick list of 10 things you can do to get better nourished skin helpful. And it probably has dawned on you by now that doing any or all of these tips will also help you be healthier overall. Double win! So which ones will you start with first?
Give my deeply nourishing Fit For Real Life Lotion Bars a try and experience incredibly nourished skin without the greasy or watery effects of traditional lotions!