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Bracing for the Cold

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With a passion for writing, Sikopo takes time to observe trends and events and does research to write content for personal fixes.

Taking Cover

The onset is harsh! It’s that time of the year when the coats, the polo necks, the winter boots and head socks that we had packed away come out.

Lets brace for the cold!

Warm Clothing

When you get too cold and the body's ability to compensate for heat loss is overwhelmed, it becomes a health risk. You become susceptible to a cold, sore throats, painful joints and to extremes, even a heart attack! According to the website www.nhs.uk, “cold weather increases blood pressure and puts more strain on the heart. Your heart also has to work harder to maintain body heat when it's cold.” This is when pneumonia reigns supreme in both adults and children. And then, “COVID.”

If you have not yet considered vaccination against Covid-19, there might be no better time than now!

Dressing right for the weather

Other than just throwing a cardigan on, you could employ the layer principle of dressing. This is wearing layers of clothing for a purpose. It includes wearing a tight fitting base layer to hold the sweat in case you engage in any activity that will cause the body temperature to rise somewhat. Then you add an insulating mid layer to hold the heat. You can add on top a looser fitting garment that has zips or buttons.

Dressing up like this is very practical if you are going out and will engage in some activity or if you will be in a room where temperatures will be adjustable from time to time. You can easily fasten, loosen or even take off, especially the outer coat without having to be adversely affected by the cold.

The skin

During the cold season, the skin tends to be overly dry. In fact in some people, especially those with generally dry skin, it starts to wrinkle, crack or even chap. The lips also tend to dry out and crack. This is due to the cold wind that blows at this time of the year, coupled with a lack of humidity.

Our bodies contains sebum, which the Cambridge English dictionary defines as “an oil-like substance produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin that makes hair shiny and prevents skin from becoming dry.” According to the Harvard Health Publishing blog, cold air tightens the skin’s pores and reduces blood circulation. Because of this, sebum which acts as a protective layer and traps moisture next to the skin is also reduced, thus causing the skin to be dry.

Here are few things you can do to keep the skin healthy this winter:

  • Avoid hot water. Granted, a hot bath or wash can be very tempting when it is really cold, but hot water strips off even the little oils there are in the skin, rendering it very dry. When you can, try to use luke/warm water instead.
  • Moisturize your skin right after you wash. A damp skin seals more moisture than when it gets dry. So, apply lotion to your skin while it is still damp.
  • Use an oil based moisturizing lotion rather than a water based one. Moisturizing lotions with hydrating ingredients like lavender, chamomile, jojoba, etc are good for soothing dry skin.
  • Drink enough water. Even if its cold, do not underestimate the value of water. You need to hydrate your skin from inside out. Other than hot drinks like tea and coffee, take some warm water from time to time. Adding a few drops of lemon to your warm water will not only make it more pleasant to drink but will add some health benefits as well.
  • Treat your skin at night. This is not only for winter but is good practice for all times. Health experts say when you are sleeping, the body has an opportunity to repair damaged tissue, cells etc. Make a practice to wash your face every night. While the skin is still damp, use a good hydrant so it can work while you sleep. Do the same for dryer areas like hands, feet, elbows, and knees since these tend to lose moisture faster than other areas on the body. Find a deep moisturizer for these areas as they have thinner skin and could use more attention. Wearing socks on the feet can help preserve the moisture through the night. It’s a good way to avoid cracked heels.
  • Exfoliate. This is very important. If your skin pores are blocked by dead cells, the moisture won’t get in and your skin will continue to look rough. Rub off the dead cells on your face and your hands by exfoliating. Use it gently on your lips as well, and then applying moisture immediately. Cracked lips make such an unpleasant sight on a person’s face, including men! There are lots of lip balms for men nowadays!
  • Eat hydrating foods. Add to your diet foods like watermelons, apples, carrots, oranges, etc. for the provision of vitamin c and zinc for the health of your skin.
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Use homemade face masks. Sometimes you don’t have to spend much. Use natural moisturizing ingredients that may even be available in your kitchen like honey, avocado, bananas, eggs and aloe to make a very good face mask. Make a paste from any ingredients you like, leave it on the skin for about 30 minutes and wash off.

The hair

You probably have noticed that in the cold season, hair tends to feel dry, dull and brittle, and we all think its because of the cold. But apparently, according to the Oxford Online Pharmacy blog, recent research cites that in winter, our bodies naturally produce more melatonin to help regulate the hair growth cycle. That means we shouldn’t lose as much hair. But we do! Try running a comb through your hair in June and the sight will break your heart! So what really goes on?

As with the skin, the scalp gets a lot more dehydrated in winter due to fluctuations in temperatures. These fluctuations can result in a dry scalp and brittle hair, which can be damaging to the scalp as well.

Here are a few care tips:

  • Plait your hair in winter. If you can, braid or weave your hair through the cold season. This will give your hair and scalp a break from combing so you will reduce on the pulling strain that comes with combing. Remember though, to scalp as often as possible with a good hair moisturizer. Hair lotions tend to be more practical at this time because they are thick and last longer in the hair, sustaining the moisture. Non-alcohol based products are best for this season. So use natural products to play it safe.
  • Wear a head sock if possible especially if you will spend a lot of time outdoors.
  • As much as possible, minimize exposing hair to heat, eg, blow-drying as this worsens the dryness. If you have to, ensure to apply one of those heat shield products for hair.
  • Once or twice a week, treat your hair with a thick, rich and moisturizing conditioner that contains moisturizing agents like soy protein and panthenol. Make sure though, to use a conditioner that is suitable for your hair type.
  • Use shampoos that are suitable for the cold season. Avoid shampoos that have lots of chemicals and alcohol as these sap the hair of moisture. Lately there have been a lot of products with Shea Butter on the market. Apparently these are good as Shea butter has lots of natural vitamins and essential oils that really add moisture to your hair. Other natural products, such as olive oil and marula oil are also recommended by hair specialists. In fact if your hair looks dry and dull, rubbing a small amount of natural oil through your hair from the bottom upwards can give it some life.

The feet

If like me, you feel cold on the feet the most, you know only too well that when the cold season comes, you need socks! Even with babies and little children, the regular advice is for them to keep their feet covered when it’s cold. The feet particularly get cold very easily because they lose heat more rapidly since they have a higher surface area-to-volume ratio, and they are more likely to be in contact with colder surfaces than other parts of the body. Once your feet freeze, it can be difficult to control the cold in your body, hence the reason why you need to keep them warm. Here is how:

  • Wear the Right Shoes. Wearing insulated footwear serves as a barrier between the feet and outside elements. If the shoes you wear are not insulated, at least wear socks so that even if your shoes get wet or cold, your feet will be protected.
  • Keep Your Feet Dry. Damp feet can cause cold feet. If you are one who easily sweats on the feet, your feet keep damp and once you shoes get cold, you can very easily start to feel cold. Wearing moisture-absorbing socks will help keep your feet dry from internal wetness caused by sweat.

Just remember too, that the ears and the nose do not have muscles that produce warmth. So when the weather is extreme, keep them covered. How face masks come handy now!

An old trick that my father taught me from way back is to keep my nose and lips lubricated. Even as the cold wind blows, that Vaseline protective shield will not hit hard on the membranes and breathing will not be as hard. And the lips will not crack. Be in the habit of keeping a little lubricant handy this season. I like Vaseline because its handy for many things – or maybe because it’s been a part a part of my life for a long time - but it works!

Let’s keep warm!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Skopo

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