The skin is the largest organ of the human body. It provides protection and sensation, regulates body heat, and allows secretion. As summer turns to autumn your skin also changes with the season. The skin retains less moisture because of the cooler, drier air. As we shift our daily activities from outdoors to indoors, our skin gets effected by the heat.
During the fall, the skin needs extra nourishment and protection. Three ways to provide the best care for your skin include: drinking lots of water to remain hydrated, applying moisturizer before going outside and continuing to use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Smaller areas on our bodies (such as face, hands, nails and feet) present different challenges.
Face & Head
In spite of the waning sunlight, it is still important to use sunscreen in autumn. It is important to continue moisturizing, regardless of skin type. People with dandruff may experience autumn flare-ups. This chronic inflammatory skin disorder, which affects up to three percent of the population, is more common in men than women. This condition can be helped by warm oil treatments – you rub the warm oil into your wet hair and scalp, then wrap a hot damp towel over your head, sit and let it all steam-soak in. The only problem here is that your hair will be quite oily/weighed down (even for curly hair). Getting it out the might involve the apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Do it weekly. Try neem, olive, almond, or coconut.
Body & Trunk
One of the most important things we can do to improve the condition and feel of our skin is moisturizing when the body is slightly damp after bathing, concentrating on rough spots including the elbows, knees and feet. Be sure to pick a natural product that does not include these harmful ingredients:
Phthalates. These petrochemical plasticizers once used to soften your child’s rubber ducky (and that are linked to sexual development abnormalities) are also used to enhance the fragrance of your favorite personal care products. Companies are not required to list phthalates on labels (except in California), so look for products designated phthalate-free.
Parabens. This group of synthetic, estrogenic preservatives contains the aforementioned methylparaben, along with propylparaben, butylparaben, and pretty much anything with a -paraben in its name. And they’re everywhere: A 2006 CDC study found parabens in nearly all of the urine samples collected from over 2,500 American adults.
Fragrance. Since scent is considered a trade secret and is not required by law to be disclosed, the generic term fragrance on a label is actually a catch-all term for nearly 4,000 (mostly man-made) chemicals that can trigger allergies, disrupt hormones, and act as neurotoxins. Unfortunately, even products labeled unscented can contain harmful masking agents, so look for those that specify essential oils in lieu of fragrance.
Sodium laureth/lauryl sulfate. The World Health Organization classifies this ingredient as a possible carcinogen, but the truth is that SLS, as it’s widely known, is an effective detergent found in nearly 90 percent of all commercial shampoos. Even natural hair care lines sold at health food stores can contain the chemical, so read labels carefully.
Oxybenzone. A petrochemical used in sunscreens and other cosmetics because it absorbs UVA rays, oxybenzone, ironically, has also been shown to release compounds that may contribute to skin cancer. Don’t want to get burned? Look for mineral sunscreens that list zinc or titanium as their active ingredient.
Hands & Arms
Sun damage over the years can result in age spots or liver spots on the most exposed parts of the body, generally the hands, shoulders and face. These flat, gray, brown or black marks are harmless and don’t need treatment. Know your ABCDE’s of Melanoma:
A – Asymmetry, if you draw a line through this mole, the two halves will not match.
B – Border, The borders of an early melanoma tend to be uneven. The edges may be scalloped or notched.
C – Color, Having a variety of colors is another warning signal. A number of different shades of brown, tan or black could appear. A melanoma may also become red, blue or some other color.
D – Diameter, Melanomas usually are larger in diameter than the size of the eraser on your pencil (1/4 inch or 6 mm), but they may sometimes be smaller when first detected.
E – Evolving, Any change — in size, shape, color, elevation, or another trait, or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching or crusting — points to danger.
It is common for nails to start cracking or peeling as the leaves change. Frequent use of moisturizer and avoiding harsh soaps is usually the simplest way to care for them.
Wearing sandals or flip flops in summer, which don’t provide much protection for the heels, can result in dry, cracked heels. Cracked heel problems can vary in severity and will need different care. For the common dryness, using a natural foot scrub and pumice stone to slough away dead skin and moisturizing with olive oil or sesame should be sufficient.