If your skin is dry, the underlying cause is inflammation, says Nicholas Perricone, MD, FACN, author of Forever Young and other best-selling books on inflammation and aging. To remedy, he suggests a three-tiered program. “You can counter the causes of dry, flaky skin with the combination of a healthy diet; nourishing, antioxidant-rich supplements; and topical treatments that contain alpha-lipoic acid (ALA),” he says. “ALA works synergistically with other antioxidants in the skin to reduce the damaging inflammatory effects of ultraviolet radiation.”
Also, look for natural skin care products that contain polyenylphosphotidylcholine (PPC) to relieve chapped, dry skin, says Perricone. Since the primary moisturizing agents in skin are phospholipids, when you apply an unsaturated phospholipid such as PPC, the moisturizing action is even more effective than that of the natural phospholipids in your skin. In addition, PPC provides emollient benefits to skin; helps heal dry, chapped, and inflamed skin; rapidly moisturizes severely dehydrated skin; and helps to improve the appearance of damaged skin.
Taking vitamin E is one of the best things you can do for your skin, and look for it in topical treatments as well. Choose the potent form known as tocotrienols and look for natural d-alpha tocopherols rather than synthetic vitamin E. “Powerful antioxidant and emollient tocotrienols provide the first line of defense against free radicals generated by UV rays,” says Perricone. “They’re fast-acting, and are 40–60 times more effective in preventing free radical damage to the skin than d-alpha tocopherol. They make hair shinier, reduce skin redness and flaking, increase moisture levels in skin consistent with the skin’s natural oils, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and prevent nails from cracking.”
If you have diabetes, prediabetes or heart disease, take up to 3 gm daily in divided doses. Start with a lower dose and increase gradually.
DR. PERRICONE’S tips
- To prevent dry skin:
Keep your showers and baths short, and try to use warm—not hot—water.
Avoid coffee, as it is a diuretic.
Avoid alcohol, which will accelerate dehydration.
Avoid sugary, starchy foods that cause an inflammatory response and exacerbate a host of skin problems including wrinkles, dry skin, acne, eczema, and rosacea.
Avoid harsh cleansers and exfoliators. Instead, use a gentle, antioxidant-based cleanser applied with a natural sponge, and rinse thoroughly with warm water.
To treat dry skin:
- Apply antioxidant-rich moisturizers while skin is damp.
- Stay hydrated with pure spring water.
- Protect your skin from harsh weather (wind, cold, sun) by applying a phospholipid-based moisturizer over your treatment products.
- Increase your intake of healthy omega-3 fats from fatty fish, and take high-quality fish oil capsules for supple, smooth skin.
- Use topical antioxidants to treat the underlying cause of dry skin—inflammation.
- Follow an anti-inflammatory diet of high-quality protein, fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats. Natural anti-inflammatory foods include watercress, beets, cherries, shiitake mushrooms, and garlic.
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