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Clients with Dry Skin

A Quick Clinical Tip of the day!

This time of year, many of our clients begin to complain of dry skin. Certainly lower indoor humidity can be a big driver for this. But don’t forget to consider the impact of tea, especially black tea (and to a less degree, strong coffee and green tea). And not because of the caffeine!  Tea is loaded with tannins, polyphenols from plants that help protect the plant from insects and bacteria (that’s why many natural antimicrobial herbs/barks are high in tannins).

Tannins are astringent (dehydrating); they are what give tea and red wine their bitter flavor (red wine gets most tannins from the wood in the barrel). The old remedy of putting a used black teabag on your eyes to alleviate puffiness really works. But some people are very sensitive to the effects of ingested tannins…this includes all forms of tea (black, green, and white and has nothing to do w/whether it’s caffeinated or not).  But especially black tea and some forms of green.

Sure, dry skin can also be an issue of imbalanced intake of essential fats (both O3 and essential O6 required). And both zinc and vitamin A are particularly key for skin health overall.  Hydration (and sodium/potassium balance) matters greatly.  Cellular hypothyroid function is often involved.  Low estrogen may be a driver too.  But don’t look for more esoteric or systemic drivers without considering the low-hanging fruit: consider exploring their tea intake. Especially as the days get colder or hotter (during transition seasons), many of our clients will start drinking more tea, iced to cool off from outdoors or hot as a cozy warmer indoors.  For some of our clients, it just may not be the best choice for overall hydration and their skin health in particular. Another a great example of bio-individuality. Or at a minimum reinforces that tea and plain, hydrating water are not the same thing!

As an aside (I can’t help myself ♥) tannins by the way are also the substance in coffee and tea that binds minerals and impairs intestinal absorption, especially iron e.g. .  For many of our clients who don’t have issues with the drying effects of tannins, it’s still likely best to consume tea and coffee away from meals for those with sensitive/impaired digestion (which is not everyone!). Teas may also inhibit digestive enzyme secretion e.g.…/20131121174008_UK-Enclos…

I hope this quick clinical tip serves you and your patients and clients.


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8 Questions for “Clients with Dry Skin”

  1. 4
    Samantha Press says:

    Is pine bark safe to use while breastfeeding?

  2. 3
    Laura Moore says:

    Are you saying that the “milk thistle tincture full-spectrum Vitamin E together” as stated above is helpful in reducing the dark spots on one’s face when applied topically? I have never heard of this combo, only using pure absorbic acid topically. Thanks!

  3. 2
    Lili Sannino says:

    Hi Tracy,

    What would you recommend to a 38 yrs old woman client with Melasma? She has dark patches on her face. I read it can be caused by change in hormones. She has IUD, doesn’t take the pill, she has anemia, constipation and acid reflux. I read somewhere in the Q&A that dark patches on skin can be liver congestion. She also has dry skin. The dark patches on her face is her main concern. Thank you so much.

    • 2.1
      SAFM Team says:

      Melasma presents with patches of skin hyper-pigmentation, most often occurring on the face and neck (and other areas most likely to get higher sun exposure). Research indicates a connection with increased oxidative stress (hence the connection with sun exposure) and hormone imbalance (>90 of melasma occurs in women). Studies also show that melasma occurs 4X more often in those with thyroid hormone imbalance than in those without. I would ensure ample zinc (critical for skin health overall and melanin function; RBC Zinc should be at least upper half of RR) and also check a full thyroid panel (TSH, Free T4, Free T3, TPO/Tg antibodies, Reverse T3). Her symptoms of constipation, acid reflux, and anemia may also be directly associated with a hypothyroid state. I would use pine bark extract supplement 3x/day (pycnogenol) internally. I would use a combination of milk thistle tincture and full-spectrum Vitamin E together, topically, on the melasma itself (e.g. Jarrow’s TocoSorb – pop the softgel with a pin). Assuming she is well-hydrated and not overconsuming drying substances (e.g. tannins), dry skin is most often caused by insufficient essential fatty acids or low estrogen. These are some studies which might be of interest: and and and and .

  4. 1
    Becky Spencer says:

    How much tea does it take to cause these effects? Is even having one cup a day too much?

    • 1.1
      SAFM says:

      Alas, there’s no way to know. We break down tannins in the GI tract and are affected by them in unique ways. It’s just a consideration to keep in mind for each unique person depending on what they are experiencing. There are people who cannot tolerate one cup without having issues and others who happily consume 2-3 cups daily with no noticeable effects.

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