By Arvette Hammar
Whether dry skin is a norm for you or if it's seasonal, here are some natural tips to battle it and win this season. Dry skin can be caused by many things such as allergies, environmental conditions and health conditions.
The itchy, tight, cracking that occurs with dry skin is often worse in fall and winter when the low humidity of winter and cold weather rob you of what little moisture your skin has. So try these natural tips to soothe and heal dry skin.
Like every year, this year I made my resolutions to proactively BE healthier. What that means to me is to eat healthier, be more active and continue to make healthier decisions on the products my family and I use. As, I cleaned out my "beauty" drawer this weekend throwing out the old cosmetics and cleansers I noticed that I've been using the same products day in and day out for years; regardless of the season.
When we moved to the Foothills at a higher elevation, I really struggled with the impacts the changing environment had on my skin; particularly the dryness. As summer turned to winter, I found that the products that had worked in the summer didn't particularly work well in the winter. This got me to thinking...Each season represents not only changes in the weather but the cyclical patterns of the earth's renewal and regeneration. Since our bodies are in tune (some better than others) with these changes, our body's needs change with the seasons. Our seasons may look different depending on where we live and some may be more subtle than others (Florida winter vs. Fargo winter), but the changes occur all the same.
Your skincare regime needs to change with the changing seasons. The processes tend to stay the same, however the products will differ.
Bottom Line...what works for your skin in one season may not work in another because your skin's needs are constantly changing. Embrace the changes and give your skin what it needs when it needs it.
Where are we now? DRY WINTER SKIN
Your old skin layers are dying in preparation for the new cells that will emerge. Remember that exfoliating will remove dead skin cells and blackheads from clogged pores. Exfoliating salt and sugar scrubs are wonderful for removing dead skin and giving your skin a vibrant glow.
Try this DIY Natural Sugar Scrub Recipe:
Honey Sugar Scrub
1/2 cup of Sugar (white of brown - raw sugar will be too rough)
1/4 cup of Oil (I like Almond and Coconut, but any natural light oil will work)
1 tsp. Raw Honey
2-3 drops of your favorite Essential Oil (I like Ylang Ylang, Lavender and Patchouli for their dry skin benefits)
Mix ingredients well in a bowl and store in an airtight container. Stores on the counter for about two months.
Wet skin thoroughly in shower. Turn off water and apply mixture to body in a circular motion, focusing on any dry rough areas. Rinse thoroughly.
Don't want to make your own scrub? Try our sugar and salt scrub
Fight Winter Dry Skin...and Win
By Arvette Hammar
Fall is in the air and winter is around the corner. Cooler weather can lead to dry damaged skin if the proper steps aren't taken to protect delicate skin. As the weather turns cooler we tend to layer on clothing and skin is covered up and for the most part left to fend for itself. We turn on our furnaces and light our fireplaces which suck the moisture from our skin and homes. Cold windy weather strips our skin of its moisture as well. Oh and those hot showers and baths we use to take the chill off – dry our skin out too. So, while we're working on a new winter moisturizer line – here are a few tips to keeping your skin moisturized and healthy this winter.
Drink lots of fluids. Keeping your insides hydrated will take you a long way in keeping your skin from drying out. We tend to not be as thirsty in the winter as the warmer seasons of the year, but your skin loses moisture even when you’re not sweating and needs to be kept hydrated. Remember to avoid caffeinated drinks which can be diuretics making you lose more fluids.
Hot Showers and Baths
Limit hot showers and baths to 10 minutes. Although those hot baths and showers feel glorious on a cold morning or chilly evening, hot water can strip your skin of its natural oils. Instead go for a warm short shower or bath and gently pat the skin dry.
Soaps & Detergents
Harsh detergent soaps will normally strip your skin of its natural oils, but even overuse of natural soaps can be drying in the winter. Use soaps with emollients like Coco Butter, Shea Butter and Castor Oil to help skin retain moisture. Limit the frequent application of soap to the areas that really need it (the “hot” spots) – application of water will clean most areas adequately (yes, I know this goes against everything we have ever been taught).
Avoid products with synthetic perfumes, deodorants and antibacterial ingredients as well as skincare products containing alcohol.
Soak in a lukewarm bath with an essential oil blends that balance out oil production and are anti-inflammatory. Lavender, geranium, rose, frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood and neroli all have skin regenerative properties. Chamomile is anti-inflammatory for cracked and damaged skin. Apply a few drops of your favorite blend with a scoop of colloidal oatmeal (better in cloth bag or tea ball for easy removal) to soothe and soften dry itchy skin. Try our ITCH RELIEF Bath Soaks
Exfoliating removes dry skin and allows moisturizers to penetrate and skin cells to regenerate. Salt and sugar scrubs are excellent 1x – 2x per week or loofah and other in bath “scrubbers” are great for an one stop bathing/exfoliating experience every day.
Use moisturizers often, especially after hand washing and bathing. Whether you’re a naturalist or not – use something. Products with low water content and higher oil content will last longer and protect your skin more. Don’t forget your lips, face, ears and feet.
Body Butters are excellent for dry skin as their main ingredients are usually thick rich moisturizing butters like Shea, Mango, Coco and oils like Olive, Almond and Coconut. Apply to especially dry areas before going to bed and cover with socks or mittens for overnight improvement.
UV rays are still present in cooler temperatures – so apply at least a SPF 30 sunscreen before heading outdoors.
Don’t forget your face
Your face and lips are not protected from winter elements with clothing, so protect them with sunscreen, moisturizers and lip balms to keep them hydrated.
Turn Down Your Thermostat
Dry heat robs your skin of it moisture – Turn down your thermostat at night before going to sleep to limit the drying effects while you sleep.
Use a Humidifier
Add a humidifier to your home to put back moisture in the winter months. There are many models and sizes out there to fit your needs including cool mist and warm mist humidifiers. Humidifiers can take you a long way in reducing winter dry skin and sinus issues. Another low tech method is to fill a sink or tub full of water – but if you're in California’s current drought conditions – that would probably not be the best use of resources.
*Remember to clean humidifiers often to limit bacterial growth
Wear breathable clothing, sweat trapped against you skin under clothing can make you itch.
You know that dry itchy skin you get that makes you want to use any available wall or door for a scratching post? Even your pets are looking at you with sympathy as you scratch away. What about when it really gets bad and your skin begins to crack and bleed? Funny enough, when we moved to a higher elevation, my skin became really dry. My usual formulas, were just not working – then the light bulb went off as I watched a cord of wood my husband split dry and crack almost overnight.
In the Sierra Foothills at 4000 ft. elevation, the humidity is less than ½ of what Sacramento is. Less humidity and drier air was drawing the moisture out of that firewood and my skin. Much like winter; when we live in a cycle of our homes being heated by furnaces, fireplaces and hot showers - my skin was being robbed of all its moisture making it itchy, dry and plain uncomfortable.
My soap, body butters and bath soaks/salts have all been developed for one reason alone – to provide skincare products that utilize the most beneficial natural ingredients and limit harmful chemical additives; to leave skin looking and feeling good. It is my goal to develop a new product line specifically for those of us living at higher elevations with winter skincare needs all year long. Until that time…here are a few skincare tips.
Moisturize Moisturize Moisturize
Use high emollient moisturizers with limited water. Water in ingredients quickly evaporates from your skin at higher elevations. Body Butters like Mango Butter, Shea Butter and Cocoa Butter are excellent. Apply moisturizers at night and frequently throughout the day.
Fluids evaporate quickly from your body at higher elevations, so drink plenty of non-caffeinated fluids even when you don't feel thirsty. Your body is 70% water, keep those cells nice and hydrated.
Limit the Squeak
Limit the use of harsh cleansers on your body and face that strip your skin of its natural oils. Go with natural limited ingredient soaps with healthy oils like Almond Oil, Avocado Oil and Hemp Oil. Being squeaky clean is not necessarily a good thing.
In our final part in our 4 part series on ingredients in your natural bath and body products - we're talking about oils.
It has been ingrained DEEP in us that oil and fat is BAD for you. But in most cases and specifically in skin care - this simply isn't true. As a Soap Maker, there are many many oils, butters and fats at my disposal to formulate products. Some oils make massive bubbles in soap and even work in salt water like coconut oil, while others add a protectant layer to skin in moisturizers like cocoa butter. Some oils are healing and reduce the appearance of wrinkles by improving elasticity and plumping the skin like Almond oil. Oil choice has always been a very individual preference like a baker’s choice in flour; we all have our personal favorites. For me, its coconut oil for soap and avocado oil for moisturizers, but being an equal opportunity artist - I select oils based on the benefit I am trying to achieve for each product. For instance if I am trying to create a vegan product, I refrain from using any type of animal fat such as lard or tallow (you’ll notice that a lot of commercial bars will list sodium tallowate as a main ingredient). If I want to create a product for acne prone skin, I will use oils that are anti-bacterial and sebum regulating like safflower and argan. There are numerous skin and hair loving oils out there and it’s all a matter of preference and purpose.
Many people assume that oils and butters clog pores and should be avoided, but this is a true myth in most cases (I love this myth busting article by Alternative Medicine Magazine - Beauty Myth Busters). Some oils are very close to the chemical make-up of the skin’s sebaceous glands while others literally regulate the production of these oils. It is not unheard of to cleanse your face with certain oils opposed to drying soaps or cleansers. I have successfully cleansed with olive and coconut oil for years.
As a firm believer of “What goes on your body, goes in your body”, the purity of oils is of the upmost importance. As a general rule, we source our oils from vendors where oil sources are traceable and use organic sustainable oils whenever possible. By ensuring the quality of the oils going into products are pure, we can limit impurities going into the body and ensure the natural benefits and nutrients are available for the body.
Here's our list of some of our favorite oils and their properties:
About Our Blog
Join me in my quest for natural alternatives in beauty and healthy living. I am passionate about my craft and strive to continuously educate myself and others on natural ways to care for ourselves and our families. I am thankful for the ability to educate others and formulate bath and body products to enhance one's overall well being.