It’s that time of the year again when we get some respite from the tropical heat, humidity and rain during the all-too-short cool season in Thailand. For many of us, the traditional Western holiday season means we can enjoy spending more time outdoors as we brave life without air-conditioning. This time of the year even gives us the rare opportunity to wear some of our finest “winter” clothing when we go out with friends or even just have dinner and drinks in the garden or at the beach as if we were in some kind of romantic movie. Many of us even travel to cooler climes to enjoy the winter holidays.
However, our skin may not have as much fun as us at this time of year with many of us experiencing dry, peeling and itching skin. Some people develop a rash, while others may see an increase in wrinkles due to the dryness around the eyes or face, meaning that they need to be especially careful not to smile too widely whenever there’s a camera around for fear of those wrinkles being captured. Fortunately, today we’re going to let you in on a few secrets to help keep your skin healthy when you’re out creating your own romantic scene.
We should not be bathing in water that is too warm, meaning that the water temperature should not exceed 42 degrees Celsius. While it is completely understandable that we’d want to bathe in hot water during the cool season, this water should not be too hot as it can lead to imbalances in our skin, weakening of cuticles, and a reduction in the skin’s ability to protect itself against various outside pollutants.
Once we’ve finished showering, we should be moisturizing with a cream or lotion immediately after drying our bodies. When selecting such creams or moisturizing lotions, try to find products that offer long-lasting moisture and be sure to sample these products carefully as every person’s skin is different. Ingredients that contain antioxidants and therefore help strengthen and nourish the skin include coenzyme Q10, vitamin C, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, grapeseed and pine bark extracts, green tea extract, pomegranate, red wine, cucumber, Aloe Vera, snail extract and amino peptides.
Moisturizing creams that we keep in our homes during the cool season should contain natural ingredients that are similar to the ones normally found in our skin. For example, ceramide, hyaluronic acid and phospholipid should be the key ingredients of the creams which we apply to nourish and repair dry, damaged skin before bed time. However, for those with especially dry skin, natural oils and moisturizers should be applied immediately after showering, such as mineral oil, almond oil, coconut oil, argan oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, tea seed oil, pomegranate seed oil and evening primrose oil. However, some oils should be avoided because they can easily irritate the skin. For this reason, we should avoid oils which contain citrus plants, lemon, lemongrass, lavender, rose, menthol, eucalyptus and tea tree, as well as oils that contain high levels of perfume.
Although it is the cool season, we should still be applying sunscreen to protect against the production of free radicals and skin inflammation that comes with exposure to the sun’s rays. The creams you select should offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays. It is the SPF rating that shows the extent to which the cream protects against harmful UVB rays. Sunscreens with an SPF rating of over 30 are preferable (currently, SPF 50 is the maximum rating available). Protection offered against UVA rays is displayed in the form of a PA rating, which should be 3+ (the highest being 4+) as this provides the most effective protection. In cosmetic products from Europe, it is the PPD rating which will display the UVA protection, and a PPD rating of over 8 is advisable when selecting such products.
Exfoliating skin cells, whether on the face or body, should not be carried out too frequently during the cool season. It is advised that it is done no more than twice a week, while products containing alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA) as the main skin nourishment ingredient should be avoided as these will exacerbate any skin dryness, peeling and irritation. Furthermore, medication containing retinoic acids, used in the treatment of spots, could result in skin irritation during the cool season and should therefore be used with less frequency during this season.
The use of cleansers could lead to overly dry and tight skin, meaning that it becomes easily irritated. Avoid the use of facial and bodily skin cleansing products containing the following ingredients:
While drinking plenty of water is definitely necessary to keep the body nourished and balanced, dry skin cannot be treated by drinking water alone. We should drink at least 8 glasses of water per day, but no more than 3 liters, while also being careful to avoid drinking beverages that can result in the body losing liquid, such as tea, coffee, cocoa and alcohol, as these cause us to urinate more frequently than normal and therefore result in dehydration.
Supplementing our body’s moisture from the outside may not be sufficient. We should also be providing nourishment from the inside through food and supplements, as these can help to increase the body’s moisture levels. Examples of helpful foods and supplements include various types of fish, fish oils and flax seeds, all of which are full of Omega 3, a source of nourishment that also reduces skin inflammation. Nuts and grains such as almonds, pistachio nuts, and walnuts, also help as these contain essential fatty acids, vitamin A and minerals that strengthen the skin. Avocados are packed with Omega 9, or oleic acids, which help repair dry, damaged skin and redress any imbalances in the skin. Additionally, yellow, orange and red fruits or vegetables will be full of beta-carotene, which reduces skin inflammation as well as offers effective protection against the sun’s rays and outside pollutants.
Master of Science in Clinical and Public Health Nutrition (Distinction). UCL Division of Medicine, London. , 2016