Caring for Winter Skin

Well, we have nearly made it through winter here in the Midwest, but it has left behind a vast wasteland of dry, itchy skin. Winter can be so hard on our skin, especially if we have forced air heating and use crappy soap. 

Here are a few ways to give your skin some love, minus the chemicals and synthetic fragrances that just seem to make me itch even more. 

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS MOISTURIZED, put DOWN the Ivory Soap. If you haven’t tried natural handmade soap, seriously, now is the time. Many commercial “soaps” are actually detergents, and will strip your skin faster than a kid peeling the paper off crayons. (One of my son’s favorite pastimes.) Natural soaps leave some moisturizers in the soap itself, as well as glycerin, which is a natural byproduct of the soapmaking process. (Commercial companies that actually make soap and not detergents have in the past extracted this glycerin and soldl it to the explosives industry--seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.) So, the end result is that you do NOT get out of the shower feeling like a tick that is about to pop because your skin is so dry and tight. I make a soap especially for dry skin, but seriously, any natural soap made with nourishing oils like olive and coconut will feel like a revelation. Why do you think I haven’t been able to stop doing this for 20 years? 

Scrub away the dry stuff. A sugar scrub is a great way to exfoliate all those dry itchy layers AND moisturize at the same time. Sugar scrubs are packed with moisturizing oils and butters. If you do your scrub in the shower and leave some water on your skin, the oils in the scrub will seal some of that moisture into your skin, while at the same time scrubbing away the dead stuff. Magical! And our sugar scrubs contain an emulsifier, which means that when it hits the water it will change to a lotion-like consistency, instead of leaving an oil slick on your skin and shower floor.

Take a nice long soak. But not with chemical-filled bubble baths made with sulfates and synthetic fragrances, in a plastic bottle that goes into a landfill...instead, try bath salts or a nice bath bomb or melt with moisturizing oils and fragrant essential oils. Add some epsom salts to your bath, which adds magnesium and helps draw out impurities. Not only is a bath a great excuse for locking the bathroom door and ignoring the kids for a while with a nice glass of wine, your skin comes out feeling amazing.

Slather on the moisturizer.  Some people prefer lotion, but it’s really mostly water, and because of the water (which you’re paying for, by the way), it requires pretty strong preservatives to keep mold and bacteria at bay. But hard lotions & body butters don’t have water, so they can be simple and natural. They are “moisturizers,” which in the industry means they lay down a protective layer on the skin to stop it from losing moisture. But you can use them to “hydrate” the skin too, which means to ADD water back into the skin. (This is why lotions have water in them.) All you have to do is leave a little water on your skin, and apply the hard lotion or body butter over it. Presto! Hydrated AND moisturized.

Which to pick, hard lotion or body butter? They are similar, they just use different oil and butter combinations, and body butter is whipped to airy fluffiness, like your favorite buttercream frosting. And who doesn’t love buttercream frosting? Nobody, that’s who. (Please don’t eat it.)

But body butter WILL MELT if it gets too hot, and it does contain a small amount of liquid oils. It’s not good to, say, carry around in your car in the summer. And it’s difficult to ship once the weather gets warm. Hard lotions, on the other hand, can melt at high temperatures, but if you let it sit in its handy-dandy tin at room temperature, it will re-form, no problem. And they contain a little beeswax, so they melt at a higher temperature and hold their shape better.

And hey! Don’t forget bath & massage oils, they work too.

Don’t forget your lips. They need a little extra TLC in this weather too. Lip scrubs might sound like a silly thing--when I first encountered them, I thought, lip scrubs?! Isn’t that a bit frou-frou? And then I tried it, and holy cow, the difference. It works the same as the body scrubs above, getting all that dry skin off your sensitive lips, but it’s made with edible moisturizing oils and natural flavor oils and, best of all, lots of sugar. You can even just lick it off when you’re done scrubbing.

Follow the lip scrub with some all-natural lip balm, which is a heavenly mix of so many good oils plus beeswax, NOT the petroleum-derived weirdness that is chapstick. 

And hey, here’s an important one: Drink lots of water. No, even more. MORE. There you go. If you don’t love water, squeeze a lemon into it, or drink some nice warm herbal tea. Don’t make your skin suffer needlessly!

It can be hard to feel good in your skin in the winter, but a little love will go a long way. We can help you with that. 
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