Your skin is a reflection of your internal environment. It’s also a reflection of your external environment. It’s a good idea to change your skin care regimen as the seasons change. Sunburn and Dermatitis are two conditions that can occur in the winter months. Although it’s cold, the snow reflects the sun’s rays which can make you more susceptible to burns. Dermatitis is a skin condition which creates inflammation in the skin, characterized by redness, itching and swelling. Some examples of dermatitis include eczema, dandruff and psoriasis which tend to be worse in the winter months.


The most common skin care question I get in the winter is whether or not sunscreen is necessary and the answer is yes. As mentioned, it’s important to reevaluate your skin care regimen each season, however, sunscreen is one item that is necessary year-round. As a naturopathic doctor, however, I guide my patients to opt for the mineral based sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the active ingredient instead of the chemical-based variety. Mineral based sunscreens offer a broad spectrum protection, which means both UVA and UVB rays are blocked. UVB rays are responsible for causing sunburn, whereas UVA rays contribute to invisible damage, melanoma and premature ageing. Mineral based sunscreens do not penetrate the skin, and they are stable in the presence of sunlight. Chemical sunscreens such as oxybenzone have been linked to an increased risk of endometriosis and lower birth weight in female offspring, according to the Environmental Working Group. Don’t forget to protect your eyes. Sunglasses during the winter are also important as they continue to protect your eyes from damaging sun rays that may cause cataracts.

Turn up the Humidifier

This is one of the easiest ways to keep your skin hydrated all winter long. Due to our home heating systems, inside can often be drier than outside which makes it difficult to keep your skin moist no matter how hard you try with moisturizers. We can spend anywhere from 6 to 10 hours on average in our bedrooms at night, which can further aggravate dry, inflammatory skin conditions. Running a humidifier in your bedroom at night keeps the skin moist and can make a huge difference in your skin’s appearance during the day.


Physical exfoliation sloughs off dead skin cells which tends to build up during the winter months leading to that dry, ashy appearance. Gently use a natural loofah or a sugar polish over your skin while you’re in the shower. Your moisturizer will penetrate the layers of your skin easier, once the dead layer has been removed. Overtime, this action will improve the texture and tone of your skin to bring out that healthy glow.

Cod Liver Oil

Cod liver oil is your one stop shop for winter skin health. Each component contributes to the healthy skin. DHA, a type of omega 3 fatty acid found in cod liver oil and other types of fish oil, has been shown in studies to improve eczema symptoms. Fish oil is anti-inflammatory and can therefore be used to decrease the redness and swelling of the skin. The vitamin D in cod liver oil also decreases inflammation of the skin and the vitamin A helps fight premature ageing by reducing the appearance of fine lines. It’s best to start taking cod liver oil weeks before winter season starts but we do have a pretty long winter season, so check with your health care professional for appropriate dosages.

Virgin Coconut Oil

Let’s not forget about the skin on your scalp. That nagging itchy, flakey scalp, aka dandruff is an inflammatory condition that occurs in part, due to the body’s reaction to yeast on the scalp. Virgin coconut oil can be helpful at combating this problem. Simply massage some coconut oil into the scalp, let it sit for a minimum of 15 minutes before continuing with your regular wash routine. It’s important to choose virgin coconut oil which is the least processed type of coconut oil in the marketplace. Not only is coconut oil incredibly hydrating to your scalp, it can also be used after showering to soothe your skin and lock the moisture in.

About the Author

Dr. Olivia Rose graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences and in 2006, she graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.

In addition to her private practice, Dr. Rose is the director of Fertility Acupuncture Services, a mobile service that brings acupuncture to couples undergoing in vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination at Toronto fertility clinics. Her special areas of interest include infertility; children and teen health; stress management; weight loss; heart disease; digestive and immune health; skin rejuvenation and pain management. She is a birth doula and has additional training in cosmetic acupuncture and needle-less therapies for skin rejuvenation and joint pain.

Dr. Rose is a sought-after lecturer for community organizations; a freelance writer and mentor to new graduates. She has been interviewed by various media outlets including Global Toronto’s, “The Morning Show”, “News at Noon” and “News Hour”. In her free time, she unplugs at the spa and she enjoys spending quality time with her husband, son and tea-cup Yorkie. For more information on Dr. Rose's practice and special events, please visit -