Is there any season that leaves us more divided? While mostly everyone can appreciate the positive aspects of spring, summer and fall, winter seems to be more of a ‘love it or hate it’ season. On the one hand, some absolutely adore winter, and on the other, when the days start getting shorter, many people just want to hole up and wait for spring.
Whether you're looking forward to the next couple of months or counting down the days until you see the first blooms of spring, winter does come with some unique challenges; be it for your inner health or outer beauty. Fortunately, this comprehensive self-care plan can help see you through the season…
Winter health care
You are what you eat, and that includes foods that will help your body fight off infectious diseases this winter. (Think colds, flu and Covid-19.)
Is there an immune-boosting diet? The answer is yes. The best route to a healthy immune system is to eat a large variety of fresh and colourful red, yellow, orange, blue and green fruits and vegetables each day, along with some high-quality whole grains, a bit of lean protein and a splash of healthy oils.
Adding supplements to your diet
Zinc: There are a variety of ways zinc acts on the immune system. Using zinc lozenges in the early stages of cold or flu, such as in the first 24 hours, may give the immune system a boost in fighting the pathogen. The daily recommended dose is 8 milligrams for women and 11 milligrams for men for no longer than five days. Don't take zinc in high doses or long term – that's been linked to copper deficiencies.
Selenium: Selenium plays an important role in inflammation and immunity. We need the mineral, found in soil and absorbed by plants, to activate immune cells. It also appears to be able to reduce inflammatory response. Plenty of selenium can be found in seafood, meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products, breads, cereals, and nuts, especially Brazil nuts, which can contain up to 91 micrograms.
Vitamin C: Hundreds of studies over the years have looked at the benefits of vitamin C for the immune system. The sources as we know are citrus fruits such as oranges, kiwi, strawberries, broccoli, brussels sprouts, tomatoes and potatoes.
Vitamin E: This vitamin can play a dual role in boosting the body's immune response. It acts as an antioxidant in the body, helping to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin E can have an anti-inflammatory effect, but it can also boost your cell-mediated immunity. Some of the best sources for vitamin E are vegetable oils like sunflower and safflower; peanuts, hazelnuts and almonds; seeds; and wheat germ.
Vitamin D: It's early days, but scientists are studying the connection between vitamin D and Covid-19. Most promising is the anti-inflammatory properties of vitamin D – the hope is that supplementation will tamp down any hyperactive immune response to the virus.
Winter skin care
Exfoliate your lips: Just like the rest of your face, your lips could benefit from some exfoliating too. Before you’re stuck applying your favourite lip colour to lips that are as dry as the desert, add a lip scrub to your routine.
Swap in a water-based moisturiser: When the weather is making your skin feel oh-so-dry, sometimes your regular moisturiser just won’t cut it. So, after cleansing your face with a gentle facial cleanser, consider replacing your standard moisturiser with a water-based one instead. No matter your skin type, water-based moisturisers offer lightweight hydration and a ‘boost’ of H2O for your skin.
Turn the temps down in the shower: Hot showers may feel great but they can dry out your skin. That’s because when water is too warm, it can actually strip your skin of the natural oils it needs to maintain proper moisture levels. And oh yeah, it can also leave your skin feeling tight and raw (ouch!). So, if you want to alter your skin care routine beyond the skin care products you use, reduce the flame of your geyser and use lukewarm water for showers instead as well as when you wash your face.
Apply a nourishing night mask or cream: A hydrating night cream or balm, which you can apply all over your face, neck, and chest, can be just the thing to help stave off dry, chapped skin during the winter months.
Winter hair car
Shine and bounce: The lack of moisture in winter not only dries out your scalp and makes your hair frizzy, but also leaves your hair looking dull and lifeless. Brush or comb out your hair with a wide-toothed wooden comb to remove tangles and apply raw honey to the length of your hair from the roots to the tips. Cover up your hair with a shower cap or towel and leave it on for about 30 minutes. Wash off with lukewarm water. Honey is a humectant that seals in the moisture and helps restore shine and bounce to dull and damaged hair.
Use of live oil: Warm up two teaspoons of olive oil and massage it slowly on your scalp. This slow massaging helps the oil penetrate deep into the roots. This will help to keep your scalp moisturised and improve blood circulation, ensuring that your follicles get enough nourishment. It will also prevent hair fall. Optionally, you can use a few tablespoons of the oil to coat the entire length of your hair as a deep conditioning treatment.
Condition your hair right: Your hair needs all the moisture it can get during winter, and this makes conditioning a vital part of your hair care routine. Using hair oils and deep conditioning packs at least once a week becomes vital for maintaining the health of your hair. It is important that you end every wash with a conditioner. Shampoo your hair and then rinse it thoroughly. Once all the lather has been rinsed out, start applying the conditioner from the mid-lengths to the ends of your hair. Concentrate on the ends as they are the oldest and most damaged parts of your hair. Leave the conditioner in for a few minutes and then rinse it out with cool or lukewarm water. It is advised to end a wash with cool water as this will seal in the moisture and leave your hair feeling smooth and looking lustrous.