Thursday, November 19, 2009

skin deep... and then some

As the weather gets chillier, our cheeks get rosier and for most of us, our skin gets drier. How many times have you gone to get dressed in the winter and thought to yourself, "oh man, look at how dry these legs are... oh well no one will see them..."? Right? Well, you're not alone.

It's easy to dismiss our skin during these cold months because well we don't have to wear shorts or swim suits anymore. But, our skin does a lot for us all year 'round. For one, it is a primary form of detoxification and elimination. Our skin breathes, excretes and absorbs, making it important to take care of it just as you would any other organ in your body.
So, take some time for your skin... it'll thank you! Here are a few suggestions:

As our bodies become dehydrated, our skin cells lose their water content, which decreases the plumpness of the skin cells, diminishing our healthy glow and our overall health. We should all be drinking about half of our body weight in ounces daily. So, if you weigh 200 lbs that is 100 oz (roughly 10-12 cups of water daily) and so on. Keeping a water bottle with you and sipping throughout the day is an easy way to insure that you are well hydrated.

Okay so you brush your teeth, your hair, but your skin?! Yep. Not only does dry skin brushing help to remove impurities from the skin's surface and pores, but it also stimulates the lymphatic channels which are just under the skin's surface. All throughout our bodies, we have vessels carrying lymph, an important part of our immune system, but unlike blood vessels, there isn't much pressure within lymph vessels. So, it's good to stimulate lymph flow daily through contracting our muscles/exercising, alternating applications of hot and cold water in the shower, and dry skin brushing. Its easy to do and can just become a daily habit like brushing your teeth.
All you need is a brush with natural bristles (found next to the loofahs etc. in the bath and beauty section of most stores). Start at the feet and work your way up with small, light strokes towards your heart as the diagram to the left shows. It is important to do on dry skin, so taking a few minutes to do so before jumping into the shower everyday is a good idea and your body will love you for it!

One of my favorite things to do whenever I get a free morning is to make a facial (or body if you're adventurous) mask with whatever goodies I have on hand in my kitchen. I often use things like oatmeal, honey, green tea, yogurt, avocados, bananas, olive oil etc. to whip up a quick mask and then sit down and sip some tea for a half hour or so before washing it off. Here's a yummy moisturizing mask I've been wanting to try out... just try to resist licking your fingers after applying this one:
Chocolate facial mask
1/3 cup cocoa powder

3 tbsp. heavy cream
2 tsp. cottage cheese

¼ cup honey
3 tsp. oatmeal

Mix all ingredients together in a blender and smooth onto face. Relax for 10-15 minutes, then wash off with warm water.

Really. Everything we put on our skin absorbs into our system. Here are a couple of helpful sites suggesting what to buy (phthalate and paraben-free products) and what not to buy when it comes to skin care products.


There's a lot of buzz around the word "detox" and from the sound of it, you'd think that I'm implying that you have all this toxic gunk in you that needs to come out in one big flush. It is true that in this day and age, we are exposed to a lot more chemicals and toxins than ever before. But, when I say "supporting elimination" I am mainly referring to the waste that our own bodies produce daily, which we are constantly needing to eliminate.
We produce CO2 in our lungs that needs to be breathed out efficiently, urea in our urine needing ample water intake to flush out, and waste products in our bowels needing the help of proper bacteria to keep a healthy balance of flora inside our guts. So, if one or more of these pathways are stressed or not functioning properly, it can put stress on the elimination processes of our skin.

How can we support our organs of elimination?
*For our lungs: Deep breathing
*For our GI systems: Getting probiotics into our bodies daily, either through naturally fermented food/drink or supplementation
*For our kidneys: Drinking plenty of water
*For our livers: Castor oil packs

Pictures: girl with leaf, skin brushing, chocolate facial, deep breath,

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