How to Protect Your Skin this Harmattan season.

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The skin is the largest organ of the body, it protects our body from direct contact with harmful bodies and elements.

Harmattan is not fun for the skin. Cold weather and low humidity levels result in the dry air, which steals moisture away from the skim every second of every day. Without immediate care, dry skin can lead to cracking and bleeding, and harsh winter wind makes the problem worse. Indoor heat further air conditioning further robs the air moisture, as do hot showers or baths and harsh cleansers. I know this for sure because I have inherited dry skin from my mother and I have to keep my bathing water as tepid as possible.

Additional moisture helps, but you need to do more to actually counteract these effects and keep skin looking youthful and smooth. To reduce chapping, redness, itching, and keep skin more healthy.

1. Wash In Lukewarm Water
Hot showers and baths always feel good in the dry season, but when you can, particularly when just washing your face or hands, choose lukewarm water to avoid stripping as many oils away from the skin.

Turn down the temperature: Hot water dries out the skin. To retain moisture, avoid taking extra hot baths or showers. Turn down the dial a few degrees to save your sensitive skin.

2. Moisturize Immediately Afterwards
Your skin not only needs more moisture but moisture right after you wash. Applying moisture to damp skin helps seal that dampness into the skin. Keep a bottle near the bathtub, shower stall, and at every sink and use liberally every time you wash. Paying attention to your hands and lips.

3. Choose Moisturizer Carefully
Some over-the-counter moisturizers have petroleum-based ingredients that can actually further dry your skin in the harmattan months. Be sure to choose a smart formula that has natural, nourishing ingredients. Go for an oil-based rather than a water-based solution, as it’s more likely to help your skin retain moisture in the winter. Natural moisturizing oils, as they’re made with natural, hydrating ingredients like lavender, chamomile, jojoba, and more, which help soothe dry, itchy skin. For double skin protection, apply a cream containing vitamin C to your face over your sunblock. The cream helps prevent facial skin damage, dehydration, and wrinkles. Also, try skin creams containing vitamin E or beta-carotene.

Use a spritzer with rose, sandalwood or bergamot essential oils mixed with water. These oils are great for hydrating the skin. To create a herbal spritzer, mix a few drops of essential oil with water in a small spray bottle and spritz on your face whenever your skin needs a little boost. Your skin is more pliable when it’s hydrated, so a spray helps stave off frown lines and general movement wrinkles. The hydrator also keeps pollutants out and keeps your skin’s natural lubricants in. An added bonus: Your makeup will stay on longer and look more natural.

4. Drinking Water Regularly
this is the simplest and most common home therapy for dry skin. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to help retain the water content of the body thereby preventing the skin from losing moisture.

5. Use Of Aloe Vera
This is a wonder plant when it comes to skin treatments. This can be used in its natural form or by purchasing skin products that contain aloe vera. Also, drinking a glass of aloe juice daily can help your skin retain moisture during the harmattan. Smooth aloe vera gel over the extra-dry skin. The acids in aloe eat away dead skin cells and speed up the healing process. Cut off an end of an aloe leaf, split open, and spread the gel over the dry area.

6. Use Lip Balms
This is essential as your lips tend to get dry and appear cracked during the harmattan season.

7. Use Milk
Milk contains soothing ingredients and anti-inflammatory agents that will stop dry and itchy skin. Milk also contains lactic acid which will exfoliate dead and dry skin cells, thereby improving the skin’s natural ability to retain moisture. Add a few drops of lemon juice and rosewater to milk and rub on various parts of your body.

8. Use Of Oils
Oils such as Olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil and baby oil work effectively against dry skin. Apply immediately after your shower for best results.

9. Exfoliate
Exfoliating your skin a few times a week will help shave off dead and dry skin cells and allow new skin cells to come up. Use a gentle body scrub twice a week. Note, however, that if over exfoliation occurs, your skin’s oils will still be depleted and dry skin will reoccur.

10. Choose Safe Products
The harmattan season is not the time to use high alcohol or astringent content face cleansers or hand washes as this will strip your skin of its natural oils. Opt out for mild products such as a moisturising body wash, a cleanser that contains ceramides (fatty molecules that make up the outer barrier of your skin) as they help the skin hold in moisture and an oil-based body lotion such as Palmer’s Cocoa Butter; you can even moisturise using shea-butter or olive oil.

11. Eat Healthy Fats
Not all types of fat are bad for you. There are healthy fats you can consume without the fear of excess cholesterol, and also can be heart-healthy. Healthy fats give you energy. You can get healthy oils from polyunsaturated fats such as in nuts, seeds, vegetable oils such as corn and safflower oil, and fatty fish. Avocados are also a great source of healthy oils.

12. Use a loofah daily
To keep ingrown hairs and scaly skin under control. While in the shower, gently scrub bumpy or scaly skin with a circular motion to remove dead cells. For extra-smooth skin, sprinkle a few drops of an alpha-hydroxy product on the loofah before scrubbing.

13. Plunk your rough, dry elbows into grapefruit halves. First, exfoliate your elbows in your bath or shower, then cut a grapefruit in half and rest one elbow on each half, letting them soak for 15 minutes. The acid in the grapefruit provides extra smoothing power.

14. Go for a run, ride your bike, work out in the garden on a hot day—anything that gets you sweating. Sweating is nature’s way of eliminating toxic chemicals that can build up under the skin. Plus, regular exercise maintains healthy circulation and blood flow throughout your body, including your skin. If you’re exercising outdoors, though, remember to wear a sunscreen on your face that protects against UVA and UVB rays or a moisturizer with sunscreen protection.

15. Avoid these three skin destroyers: Smoking, tanning salons and sunbathing. All three will age your skin prematurely.

16. Keep your hands off your face! Because your hands touch so many surfaces, they are a magnet for dirt and germs. Rub your eyes, stroke your chin, cup your cheek and you’ve transferred everything on your hands to your face.

17. Stop with one glass of wine or one alcoholic drink. Overdoing it enlarges the blood vessels near the surface of your facial skin.

18. Never rub your eyes—apply compresses instead. The skin on your face is extremely delicate, especially under your eyes. So use a very light touch on your face at all.

This should help you have healthier skin this harmattan season.

Next time we would go into more details of foods that help our skin from inside out.
Above all eat less and move more.

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