Healing Dry Hair, Skin & Nails
As we begin to mature and age, the body produces less estrogen and progesterone. Along with many other symptoms of menopause, a decrease in estrogen often comes with the uncomfortable side effect of dry nails, skin, eyes, and hair. The dryness of these areas of the body can cause discomfort, frustration and even an emotional response.
Another cause of dryness can come from an underactive thyroid. As we age, the thyroid gland tends to become a bit more sluggish in many women. Hypothyroidism has greater incidence in women over the age of 65 and can lead to dryness of the skin, hair, and nails. Healthy digestion is also an important component of preventing dryness, particularly of the skin. The skin is often a reflection of what is happening within the gut; ensuring a healthy gastrointestinal tract, proper nutrients and absorption can go a long way towards improving overall dryness.
Living with dryness, whether in the skin, hair, nails, eyes or elsewhere in the body should not be considered “a part of life and growing older”. Providing your body with proper nutrients, balancing your hormones and topical application of healing oils can work wonders for healing from dryness. Support through the nourishment of our diet, plus supplements and herbs will help our bodies regain the supple and youthful moisture and balance.
Consuming a healthy whole foods diet packed with nutrient-rich foods helps to improve the condition of not only our skin but also hair, nails, eyes, and yoni.
Try: eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, beans and lentils, organic meats, wild fish, nuts, and seeds. Include collagen building foods such as: bone broth, fish, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, garlic, and berries. Include keratin building foods such as: lean meats, eggs, carrots, sweet potatoes, beans, nuts, and legumes.
Hydration – the number one cause of dryness is a lack of water! It is important to consume half your weight in ounces of pure filtered water each day to encourage moisture throughout the body. If you drink coffee, it is especially important to consume even more water, to counteract the dehydrating effects of the coffee.
Try: consuming half your body weight in ounces of water a day (if you weigh 120lbs, you should aim to drink 60 ounces of water - about 8 cups). If you have trouble remembering to drink water, purchase a stylish water bottle that you love and keep it with you at all times. Know how many bottles will take you to reach your goal.
Increase Phytoestrogens – phytoestrogens are plant compounds that mimic estrogen in the body. By increasing phytoestrogens in the diet after menopause, we can increase the amount of estrogen in our body naturally, helping to improve the condition of internal and external dryness.
Try: organic soy products such as tempeh and miso (which have been fermented and are easier to digest), edamame, flax seeds, whole grains, nuts, celery, apples, and alfalfa.
Moisturize – moisturizing the entire body is helpful in holding in moisture and preventing dryness of skin. Using natural products externally to hold in moisture is very important throughout our lives as women
Sun Care – practicing safe sun care as we continue to age is beneficial for protecting both the skin and our eyes. Opt for a sunscreen that is UVA/UVB protectant and use a natural product from your health store. Invest in good quality sunglasses and use them whenever you are out in the sun. A wide-brimmed sun hat is an excellent option for additional coverage and there are many stylish options from which to choose.
Try: finding a natural sunscreen that works for your skin, get in the habit of reaching for your sunglasses and wear a sun hat.
Reduce Stress – stress is the root of many issues in the body. Stress can lead to premature aging, wrinkles, poor digestion and elimination and a compromised immune system. Long-term stress places pressure on the adrenal glands and the thyroid gland which support both hormone regulation and metabolism. By reducing stress, we help to support our adrenals and a healthy thyroid.
Try: developing a daily meditation practice, going for a nightly walk or joining a yoga class.
Improve Circulation - improving circulation helps blood to flow with ease through the vessels of the body, improving skin quality, reducing wrinkles, cellulite, and assisting in detoxification.
Try: techniques such as dry skin brushing, saunas, or hydrotherapy.
Hyaluronic acid - is naturally produced by the body. It holds moisture in the body, primarily in the skin, joints, and eyes. Ingested internally, hyaluronic acid acts on the skin, hair, nails, joints, and eyes to increase moisture
Try: a daily supplement of hyaluronic acid.
Coconut Oil – coconut oil contains antioxidants which can help to reduce inflammation in the body. It is also a beautiful food for improving skin quality. It can be used both internally and externally to improve skin quality and even boasts sun protection qualities.
Try: consuming 1 tbsp of coconut oil daily.
Fish Oil – fish oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids which are essential in the health of our hair, skin, nails, and eyes and help to reduce inflammation in the body.
Try: a daily supplement of at least 1200 mg of EPA/DHA.
Flaxseed Oil – also containing anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseed oil is beneficial for the skin, hair, nails, and for healing dry eyes. It also contains phytoestrogens which can help hormone balance.
Try: supplementing with 1-2 tbsp of flaxseed oil daily or adding freshly ground flax to smoothies or oatmeal. Note: flaxseed should always be stored in a cool, dark place as it easily oxidizes and goes rancid.
Silica – Silica is important in the formation of healthy hair, nails, skin, bones, and teeth. It helps to form collagen and helps to improve hair and nail growth, skin quality and maintain strong bones and teeth into our mature years.
Try: a silica supplement daily.
Yoni Steaming – Yoni steaming is helpful in reducing symptoms of menopause, and improves circulation and the moisture of the genitals. You can try this at home or look for spas that offer yoni steaming or v-steam. Steam using herbs such as mugwort, lavender, yarrow, motherwort, or ask your herbalist for a prepared blend.
Abhyanga Massage – An Ayurvedic massage technique, abhyanga massage uses plenty of oils to nourish the body mixed with specific herbs based on your dosha and condition. It can be performed as a self-massage. The benefits of abhyanga massage include improved circulation, improved skin, and balancing of the doshas.
Try: Create your own Abhyanga self-massage by using a herbal oil specific to your dosha or visit an Ayurvedic practitioner or spa.
Hyaluronic acid– is naturally produced by the body. It holds moisture in the body, primarily in the skin, joints and eyes. It has been praised as an anti-aging miracle and for good reason. Topically applied, hyaluronic acid helps to improve moisture in the skin and reduce wrinkles!
Try: using a serum containing sodium hyaluronate which is the most absorbable into the skin or using eye drops containing hyaluronic acid to relieve dry eyes.
Silica – is a mineral, also known as silicon which contributes to the growth and development of hair, skin, and nails (as well as bones and joints). Silica helps in the formation of collagen in the body. Externally, silica can be used in natural anti-aging serums and creams.
Try: a natural moisturizer that includes silica.
Oils to consider
Coconut Oil– externally, coconut oil can be an excellent moisturizer for the skin. It works great as a massage oil, as a base to add essential oils to, as a hair mask and on the cuticles.
Try: reaching for the coconut oil to help soothe and nourish your skin.
Shea Butter – is a nourishing oil which is wonderful for soothing dry, cracked or irritated skin, improving skin quality and holding in moisture.
Try: using shea butter directly on the skin as a moisturizer on the body, under the eyes and on the lips, or as part of a blend of moisturizing oils.
Jojoba Oil– an excellent moisturizer for the hair, skin, and nails, jojoba oil is a relatively inexpensive oil that is super nourishing to the skin. It can be applied directly to the body and face and helps to improve collagen in the skin, reducing wrinkles and promoting cell rejuvenation. It can also be used in the hair as a nourishing hair mask.
Try: reaching for the jojoba oil the next time you need a new moisturizer and applying to the body and face daily before bed.
Jasmine Oil– jasmine oil is an excellent oil for nourishing the skin and hair. It also contains properties which can be helpful in relieving menopause symptoms. A massage with jasmine oil helps to relax the body and soothe the mind.
Try: adding jasmine oil into your favorite facial moisturizer, lotion, hair mask, or massage oil.
Create your own Skin Serum :
- Jojoba oil
- Rosehip oil
- Vitamin E
- Lavender essential oil
Calendula –is a flowering herb that is excellent for many skin conditions. It can help reduce skin dryness and irritation topically and also contains estrogenic properties, making it especially helpful for mature women.
Try: a calendula salve applied topically to skin irritation and dry patches.
Vitex (Chaste Tree) – vitex is a women’s herb. It is helpful for various symptoms of menopause and may help to reduce dryness of the yoni.
Try: a daily vitex supplement.
Licorice – supports the adrenals, thyroid and hormonal system, promoting hormone balance and supporting the thyroid, helping to reduce dryness associated with an impaired thyroid.
Try: a daily licorice supplement. Use caution if you are on blood thinning medication, as licorice is a natural blood thinner.
Maca – is extremely nutritive, providing calcium and iron to the body. It also helps to support the endocrine system (which is responsible for our hormones). It helps to balance hormones, support the thyroid and increase energy naturally. While not acting directly on dryness, its effect on balancing hormones can help to relieve symptoms of dryness.
Try: adding 1 tsp of maca to your morning smoothie or mix with a bit of cacao powder and honey for a warm drink. NOTE: some people may find maca over-stimulating. If this is the case with you, start with a much smaller dose (¼-½ tsp) or try another herb.
Chamomile– is an excellent gentle herb to fight dryness. Chamomile tea can be ingested internally, used as a face wash, or massaged through hair.
Try: sipping on some chamomile tea or adding it to your body care routine.
Vitamin C– vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and is a key player in building collagen in the body. Collagen is responsible for skin’s elasticity as well as the strength of our hair and nails.
Try: consuming vitamin C rich foods such as: bell peppers, oranges, strawberries and kale or supplementing with 1000-3000 mg of vitamin C in the lypospheric form. Always start small with vitamin C and gradually increase your dose. It does have a laxative effect when taken in large doses, particularly when your body is not used to consuming vitamin C. Start with 500mg per day and gradually increase by 500mg every 3 days or so, until you reach bowel tolerance (when bowels start to become loose), then back down by 500mg. This is your individual optimal daily dose.
Vitamin E – is another important antioxidant that has excellent healing and anti-aging properties for the skin. It also helps to reduce inflammation and improve circulation.
Try: foods such as almonds, mangoes, avocados and sunflower seeds or supplement daily with vitamin E.
Zinc – zinc is another antioxidant which can be helpful in promoting hair growth or reducing hair loss patterns. It is also an anti-inflammatory and can help balance hormone levels.
Try: a daily supplement of zinc.
Vitamin A – vitamin A is also an antioxidant. It is especially beneficial for the eyes and skin. It is anti-inflammatory and has anti-aging properties.
Try: foods such as sweet potatoes, kale, carrots, and eggs or supplement with the external retinol form of vitamin A.
Selenium – is an antioxidant that is beneficial for anti-aging and thyroid function. It helps to support the conversion of thyroid hormones into their active form, and as mentioned earlier, the thyroid plays a vital role in the quality of our skin. Selenium can also help to increase hair growth and improve the quality of the skin.
Try: selenium rich foods such as brazil nuts, fish, organic beef and turkey, eggs, and spinach or supplement with selenium daily.