Health and Wellness: Natural Skin Remedies and the Science Behind Them News, Sports, Jobs
More than a third of Americans report getting sunburned each year. After boating at Bear Lake or hiking the ‘Y’ this summer, you could be one of them – carefully taking a cool shower before dousing yourself with aloe vera gel or lavender oil.
There are many natural remedies for skin problems, from olive oil for dry skin to egg whites for oily skin. But how do they work? Will your skin actually improve using these remedies? Here are some natural remedies for dry skin, oily skin, and sunburned skin and the science behind them.
Home remedies for dry skin
Olive oil is a known superfood, and some people use it topically as part of their skin care routine to combat dry skin. Does it work?
“The main benefit of olive oil is to hydrate the skin by reducing water loss,” said Ee Ting Ng, cosmetic chemist. “This hydration increases the water content of the skin, improving its health and appearance.”
While olive oil itself doesn’t add moisture to your skin, it helps you retain the moisture you already have. Here’s a recipe for an olive oil cleanser to get these moisture-trapping properties into your skin care routine:
- Rub olive oil on your skin.
- Wrap a warm, damp cloth over your face until it cools.
- Wipe off excess oil.
Oatmeal isn’t just a big breakfast, it can help with your dry skin as well. One study “suggests that colloidal oatmeal has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that may help improve dryness, flaking and roughness of the skin. It can also reduce itching. Try adding a cup of oatmeal to a hot bath to help your skin retain the moisture from the bath.
Remedies for oily skin
Honey has an impressive list of benefits for the skin. It has antibacterial, antiseptic and antimicrobial properties and is a natural humectant, keeping the skin moist but not oily. Additionally, a 2017 study on stingless bee honey found that “raw honey has a strong anti-inflammatory effect. Another review of studies supports this, finding that most varieties of honey have anti-inflammatory properties. “
If you have oily or acne-prone skin, try honey. Spread a thin layer of raw honey on your face. Leave it on for about 10 minutes and then rinse it off with plenty of lukewarm water.
You may have seen egg whites and lemons touted as a remedy for oily skin. Although lemons have antibacterial properties, lemon is extremely acidic, which can lead to dryness, redness, and peeling of the skin. If you have sensitive skin, it is best to avoid topical applications of lemon juice.
Egg whites are a safer option (unless you’re allergic to eggs, of course). They contain the protein lysozyme, which can break down acne-causing bacteria and help absorb excess oil. However, egg whites do not shrink or tighten your pores. In fact, according to Derm Review, “this is not possible because the pores do not have muscles around their opening to allow them to open and close.”
Here’s how to make and use an egg white face mask:
- Beat an egg white until frothy.
- Wash your face.
- Apply a thin layer of the mixture with a face brush or cotton ball, avoiding the mouth (you don’t want to accidentally ingest raw egg).
- Leave the mask on for 10 minutes.
- Rinse off the mask with cold water and apply your usual moisturizer.
Aloe Vera is a classic sunburn remedy. A small study “found that 97.5% of aloe vera gel could reduce skin redness caused by exposure to UV rays,” and other research showed that “aloe vera may be more effective as petroleum jelly and the topical antibiotic silver sulfadiazine in curing burns “. You can mix aloe vera gel, white vinegar, and apple cider vinegar to relieve the stinging and redness of a sunburn, according to dermatologist Dr. Fran E. Cook-Bolden.
Rich in probiotics, Greek yogurt can help reduce sensitivity and redness of the skin. The lactic acid in this yogurt gives it anti-inflammatory properties and can be used to soothe and hydrate the skin. You can apply plain Greek yogurt to your sunburn mask and rinse it off after 15 minutes.
According to studies, cooled chamomile tea can help with wound healing and eczema and mild inflammatory skin conditions. Apply chamomile directly to your sunburn to help it heal and feel better while you wait.
Even though the temperature gets colder as summer turns into fall, the sun will continue to hurt our skin. If you have eggs in your fridge or chamomile tea or honey in your pantry, then you can have the ingredients for better skin protection whatever the season. Give them a try and never hesitate to contact your doctor or dermatologist if you have any concerns.
Darren Whittemore, DO, is an American Board Certified in Anatomical and Clinical Pathology and Dermatopathology. He is part of the clinical team at PathologyWatch, a full-service dermpath laboratory.