Ask a Naturopath

Stock a natural beauty cabinet

By Dr. Ashley Nelson, ND

Winter can be a harsh time for our skin. Lower temperatures, lack of moisture, decreased circulation, and lack of nutrients can negatively impact skin during these cold months.

Skin care is an important part of overall health. Most of us know that the skin is our largest organ, but many don’t realize skin can be an indicator of our health status.

Advanced aging, wrinkles, eczema, acne, psoriasis, and skin infections can all provide clues for what is happening inside the body. Whether inflammation, lack of nutrients, hormone imbalances, or poor gut health, these issues can all show up on our skin. This is why it’s important to take care of our skin from the inside out.

Let’s take a look inside nature’s beauty cabinet to see how we can support healthy, glowing skin this winter!


In the winter months, it is especially important to stay hydrated. In addition to regular water intake (about eight 250 ml glasses per day), we can also incorporate more hydrating foods. Vine based fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and melons tend to be high in water content. Citrus fruits, berries, and celery are also high in water. Hydration keeps the skin healthy, improves circulation, and supports natural detoxification.

Consuming foods with healthy oils and fats also helps to nourish and moisturize the skin. Omega 3’s found in fish, chia seeds, and walnuts are particularly helpful for reducing inflammation. Inflammation in the body is associated with skin damage, sagging skin, and wrinkles. Omega’s can also help to correct deficiencies that have contributed to dry, irritated skin. Other helpful oils include: coconut oil, olive oil, and avocados (either on the skin or as a food).

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), winter is a time to rest and repair.  In other words, it is a “Yin” season since yin is restorative in nature. Winter is also connected with the TCM kidney which acts as the “Gate of Life” and is connected to our longevity. Hair loss, greying, and dry skin can be signs of imbalance in these areas. To prevent these issues, we should eat foods that nourish yin and kidney energies during the winter. These include warming foods like soups and stews, sweet potatoes, walnuts, black beans, and herbs like rosemary, nutmeg, and coriander.


Probiotics: Probiotics are a big part of any glowing skin protocol for several reasons. They support gut health, fight inflammation, reduce our stress response, and improve the barrier function and hydration status of the skin. This is why probiotics are a great example of skin support from the inside-out.

Super foods supplements: Foods such as spirulina, chlorella, gogi berries, blueberries, acai, wheat grass, pomegranate, kale, and turmeric have all been called “super foods” for their high antioxidant and vitamin status. It can be a bit tough to consume high quantities of these all winter long depending on availability.  This is where a super foods supplement can come in handy in addition to fruit and vegetables from the diet. Giving yourself a little added bonus can help ensure that you are supplying your skin with incredible phytochemicals, anti-oxidants, and nutrients that your skin and body will love you for.

Zinc: Zinc is an important mineral involved in hundreds of reactions in the body. In addition to its benefits for skin, it can also support mood, immune system, and reproductive health. It provides anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits to the skin, protects from UV radiation, and supports collagen production.

*With any new supplements, it’s always important to check with your MD or ND to avoid interactions or side effects*


Certain products we use in our everyday lives can actually be quite harsh on our skin.

Let’s start with the topicals to avoid:

  • Soaps with SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate) and other detergents as these can be irritating and drying.
  • Strong cleansers, especially those that foam or contain salicylic acid, as these are drying and strip away good oils in the skin (especially in the winter)
  • Petroleum based moisturizers can actually be more drying for the skin

Topicals to use:

  • Coconut oil: Great moisturizer after the shower when skin is still warm. Useful anti-microbial, and gentle cleanser as well.
  • Honey: Raw, unpasteurized honey can be an easy, gentle face wash given it’s moisturizing and anti-bacterial properties. Also a great ingredient for face masks.
  • Rosehip oil: Protects the skin, rich in antioxidants, and anti-aging. You only need to apply a few drops to skin (oils can be helpful for balancing skin, even if you have oily skin).
  • Avocados: Acts as an emollient which softens the skin. Simply mash a fully ripe avocado, apply for 10-15 minutes then rinse.
  • Aloe vera: A great anti-inflammatory perfect for soothing irritated, red skin. Can help to treat acne and fight aging. Leave gel (fresh is ideal) on for 20 minutes before rinsing.

A natural beauty cabinet can save you the expense of costly products which are often filled with chemicals and preservatives. Plus, natural products often not only benefit the skin, but the whole body as well!

Yours in health,

Dr. Ashley Nelson

Dr. Ashley Nelson is a naturopathic doctor in Barrie, ON. She is passionate about holistic mental health, and providing safe and effective options for mental health issues.

Photo credit: ©[pixelshotvia Canva

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