There’s nothing quite like a day in the sunshine to make your complexion glow. But weeks spent indoors with the heat on full blast? That’s what you have to look forward to this winter, the season of looking pale and parched— right? Not necessarily. There’s more than one way to bring out your natural radiance, and the winter season offers some unique excuses to rest, replenish and rebuild beauty while nature does the same. Check out my favorite ways to use winter’s quiet darkness to look and feel your best:
1. Take a Seasonal Snooze
Embrace the longer periods of darkness that winter brings, and you could look younger than ever. How so? Climb into bed earlier and sleep longer. Those extra zzs unlock powerful anti-aging benefits from growth hormones that are released while you sleep, not to mention additional hours in the sack means more time for your body to repair daily damage. Additional benefits of sleeping a restful night include fewer cravings for foods that negatively impact both your diet and your skin, as well as lowered levels of the aging stress hormone cortisol.
2. Clear the Air
Indoor air quality can plummet during the winter, when windows are closed and fireplaces and furnaces are roaring. You can keep your home healthy and boost your mood by skipping synthetic fragrances (choose only naturally scented, clean-burning candles for the holidays) or using essential oils to scent your home instead. A few drops of pine, orange or cinnamon essential oil on a lightbulb smells festive and energizes you naturally. While you’re at it, purchase some low-maintenance indoor plants (pothos or peace lily are good picks) that filter your indoor air— and remind you of springtime.
3. Steam up the Bathroom
What to do with a long, cold winter’s night? Why not get toasty with a pampering beauty treatment that revs up your circulation and, with it, the blood and nutrition flowing to your skin? Try a hot soak (I recommend adding a natural bath oil like those from Dr. Hauschka, or homemade bath salts). For a gorgeous glow without stepping into the tub, try a facial steam treatment. Heat a pot of water and add pure essential oils (try lavender or rose) or fresh herbs (like rosemary or sage). Turn off the pot, let the water cool slightly and steam clean skin over the warm vapors. Afterward, rinse with cool water and apply your favorite natural moisturizer.
4. Light Your Digestive Fires
Good digestion is essential for glowing skin, but heavy winter meals can be hard on our stomachs. My favorite way to rev up digestion during the winter is with a hot water bottle; sit and relax with one propped on your abdomen for 10 minutes or so after a big meal. Not only will the heat ease digestion, it will increase circulation and create allover warmth.
5. Get Cooking
Winter is filled with holidays, which means plenty of opportunities to cook, bake and roast. Use the excuse to spend more time in the kitchen making foods that support your beauty and health. Fall and winter vegetables like butternut squash, pumpkin, kale and carrots give you a major dose of vitamin A, which increases your cell turnover, giving your skin natural radiance and fewer visible fine lines. For a quick vitamin A-rich appetizer to serve at a holiday gathering, try my Sweet Potato Rounds with Ginger Fig Chutney.
6. Quiet your Mind
On a quiet night or peaceful morning, take a few moments (make 10 minutes your starting goal) to practice meditation. Let stressful thoughts evaporate and focus solely on your breathing. You’ll find that deep, mindful breaths lower levels of stress hormones that speed up aging in the body, even as they strengthen your immunity and help you feel calm and focused. What could be more beautiful?
Snow image via Soe Lin