8 Natural Tips to Help Eliminate Dry Winter Skin
There are many wonderful things about winter. Enjoying the twinkling of a freshly fallen blanket of snow. Sitting in front of a warm crackling fireplace. Eating winter comfort food. Snuggling up in sweatpants with a cup of hot cocoa and a good book. Experiencing the beautiful, festive and cheerful holiday season. But, I must admit that winter and I have a love-hate relationship. It is so cold!
When choosing skin care products the most important thing is to develop an awareness and understanding of your own skin and how it responds to dry winter conditions. You do not need to completely switch out all of the products you normally use, just make simple changes to help skin adapt for the seasonal change in environment.
For those of us who live in temperate climates, winter always takes its toll on our skin.
The cold dry, windy air outside combined with the dry heated air inside and lower humidity drain moisture causing dry, flaky, irritated, red, and itchy skin.
As the skin loses hydration, its natural defenses decrease. Microscopic cracks can develop in the outer layer which can become inflamed.
For those with normally dry or sensitive skin, it will often worsen during the winter months.
As the seasons change our skin goes into overdrive in an effort to rebalance itself to the new environmental conditions.
It is always important to choose the right products, but this is especially true during cold winter months. Winter skin, which is already stressed, has different needs and is begging for an extra bit of moisture. Choosing products rich in natural moisturizers and free of chemicals will prevent further irritation of the skin.
Winter skin is often more fragile and sensitive. So especially if you have an irritated skin condition like eczema be sure to avoid any irritants or allergens that can cause flare-ups.
Stay away from skin care products made with synthetic ingredients. Soaps, body washes, and other products that are made with synthetic fragrances, colors, detergents, or contain alcohol can strip away natural oils from the skin and irritate it even further.
Thanksgiving and Winter Holiday season is often a time for airplane travel. Aside from the stress of airport chaos, flying can also be harsh on your skin. The recycled air that circulates in airplanes has a very low humidity level which results in a loss of moisture from the skin. The low humidity levels also impact the hydration levels in your body. The mucous membranes in the eyes, throat, nose, and airways will dry out as we inhale the low humidity air.
So, how can we help the dehydrating effects of airplane travel? First, be sure to drink plenty of water before and during the trip to maximize your body's hydration levels.
On the day of your flight apply a rich natural moisturizer all over your body before heading to the airport. If possible bring some along in a travel-size container. Don't forget to use a moisturizing natural lip balm as well. Remember, the delicate skin on your lips is very thin and lacks the protective outer layer and oil glands present on other parts of our body,
Using simple, gentle wholesome skincare with a few simple changes to your regular routine can leave even winter skin feeling protected, nourished, and pampered.
1. Choose a Moisturizing Natural Soap
One of the most common causes of dry skin is your soap.
Of course we are biased, but a mild natural, moisturizing soap is always recommended for dry skin, especially during cold weather.
Look for soaps rich in nourishing natural plant oils like sunflower, coconut, olive, and avocado or plant butters like shea and cocoa butter.
Choose soaps that are free of synthetic detergents, such as sulfates. These syndet (synthetic detergent) bars often strip away even more of our natural skin-protecting oils which exacerbates dry skin and make it feel worse.
Also stay away from soaps that contain artificial fragrances, colors and other synthetic ingredients that can irritate sensitive winter skin.
For facial cleansing try adding a Facial Cleansing Oil to your routine. A natural plant-based cleansing oil will not only dissolve dirt and makeup residue, but also absorbs easily into your skin leaving a breathable layer of moisture which is especially helpful during cold winter months.
Learn More Blog: What Is A Facial Cleansing Oil? How Do I Use It?
For a list of our soaps for sensitive or dry skin, please read Help Me Choose Soap.
2. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
The wrong type of moisturizer can affect the health winter skin. Generally, water-based lotions may be easier to apply, but plant oil-based creams are more effective in trapping moisture.
If you do not moisturize regularly it may not matter that much in warmer months, but during winter months it is important to moisturize often and regularly to help keep skin hydrated.
Although we often use these words interchangeably, there is a difference between skin moisture and hydration. When skin is lacking in moisture it is dry and needs oil. When skin is lacking in hydration it is dehydrated and needs water. The goal is to add moisture to the skin while creating a protective barrier from the environment and slow down water loss and prevent dehydration.
The lack of humidity during the cold winter months dries out your skin, stripping it of natural oils and moisture.
Dehydrated skin looks dull, feels tight, and flakes and cracks easily which can lead to painful irritations.
- It is important to choose moisturizing products with gentle, natural ingredients that will hydrate and soothe skin. Products made with synthetic ingredients like colors or fragrances can add to winter irritation.
- Rich natural ointments like our Healing herbal salves can be very helpful for extra dry, irritated places.
- Winter skin often needs an extra-rich daily moisturizer to help nourish, hydrate, and protect the skin from uncomfortable dryness or cracking. Dermatologists recommend non-water-based creams to restore skin hydration.
Stay away from lotions. Not only are they mostly water (notice that water is often the first ingredient) they often contain preservatives and fragrances that can irritate sensitive skin. Although lotions are absorbed more quickly, they do not contain enough emollients to offer long-term protection against winter dryness.
Keep a travel-size organic moisturizer in your purse, briefcase, school bag, or gym bag so it is always handy when you need a quick dose of moisture, especially after hand washing.
My go-to portable moisturizer is a solid Lotion Bar packaged in an easy-to-carry portable tin.
You are often told to layer clothing in winter, try layering your moisturizers by using more than one of your favorite natural products at a time.
For example, take a warm bath or shower using a natural bath oil or a shower lotion bar and towel dry. Then massage your skin with your favorite natural plant-based moisturizer to seal in all the benefits of your warm shower and leave your skin soft and smooth.
Moisturize While Skin Is Still Damp
Apply moisturizer immediately after your shower or bath.
Since the function of a moisturizer is to trap moisture in your skin, the best time to moisturize is after showering or bathing, while the skin is still warm and damp to help increase absorption and lock in moisture.
Applying a moisturizer to very dry skin is not helpful since there is no moisture to trap.
You have about a three-minute window from shower to moisturizer for best results. If you wait too long the moisture will disappear from your skin before you can lock it in.
Towel off but leave your skin just a bit damp as you apply your moisturizer. Moisturizers spread more easily on skin that is slightly wet.
TIP: If you enjoy the application "feeling" of a lotion better than a cream, try massaging one of our rich Whipped Butters or Body Balms into warm, wet skin after a bath or shower. Wait a few moments and gently pat dry. Since a lotion is just a lot of water mixed with oils, a rich and creamy natural butter on warm wet skin will have a similar feel.
Apply moisturizer while still in the shower!
I love taking a hot shower before bed. While I know that some frown upon a hot shower, but it soothes these old bones, helps my muscles relax, allows me to fall asleep more quickly, and improves my sleep quality. I always say—you must know your own body!
After soaping and rinsing, a moisturizer in the shower works with the humidity and warmth to deposit a layer of emollients to nourish and soothe dry, itchy skin.
Any simple light organic oil like sunflower, grapeseed, or avocado will work. Of course, I love our unscented or aromatherapeutic Bath Oils with the accessory sprayer.
Also, try one of our organic Shower Lotion Bars. They are a nourishing, after-shower moisturizer made with wholesome ingredients combined in a unique formula that is solid at room temperature but easily melts on your warm wet skin.
For a list of our products for sensitive or dry skin, please visit the following pages Help Me Choose Natural Products for Dry Skin and Help Me Choose Natural Skin Care for Sensitive Skin.
Don’t Forget Your FACE!
Many people, that includes MEN TOO--often think that the skin on their faces is pretty tough. After all, it is always exposed to the elements—so it makes sense.
Unfortunately, it is not true. The skin on our face is very different from the skin on the rest of our body.
The cells that make up the top layer (the epidermis) of facial skin are generally smaller than skin cells on the rest of the body. As a result, facial skin is thinner and finer.
This thinner facial skin provides less protection. That’s why skincare products that do not irritate your body, may still irritate your face.
The smaller cells of facial skin also mean less of a barrier, less protection from environmental stressors, and more prone to water loss--and so it ages faster than the rest of your body.
Again use only products made with natural ingredients. Ingredients like mineral oil and petrolatum can cause pore congestion, bumps, and breakouts.
Try a moisturizing natural face cream or facial oil. Facial oils can help regulate your skin’s oil production.
You can even add a few drops of facial oil to your favorite natural facial moisturizer to provide an additional protective layer against harsh cold-weather conditions.
Don’t Forget Your HANDS!
Winter is hard on your hands. Your soft, smooth hands of summer, can turn red, rough, and chapped by December.
Besides the lack of moisture due to dry Winter air, we tend to wash our hands more often in winter in hopes of preventing the spread of cold and flu viruses which further depletes natural skin oils.
Wintery dry conditions can leave your hands so dehydrated that they crack, peel, and bleed. To treat dry, parched hands you need to provide moisture to your thirsty skin.
But the best plan is prevention--that means applying a good natural moisturizer before your hands show signs of dryness.
To protect your skin after frequent hand washing, choose a mild soap, use warm, not hot water, pat your hands dry, and apply a moisturizer right away.
Again my go-to portable moisturizer is a solid Lotion Bar packaged in an easy-to-carry portable tin.
If your hands go beyond dry and become chapped and rough or have little cracks or fissures, it is time to try a more therapeutic moisturizer. An organic salve can be very helpful or a thick, rich natural cream, like our Intense Healing Hand Balm that contains highly emollient ingredients such as organic virgin shea butter, plant oils, botanicals, and beeswax.
If hands are red and painful moisturize at bedtime and slip on a pair of cotton gloves or socks while you sleep.
How About Some Warm Moisturizing?
I have arthritis in my hands and fingers. While arthritis affects me throughout the year, the cold winter months make it much more difficult to manage the symptoms. I love the temporary relief I receive from a warm hand massage with a lotion candle.
If you have not used a massage oil candle before, then you are in for a real treat. Though they look like traditional candles, they are actually a solid body oil blended with pure essential oils.
Our natural Body Lotion Spa Candles provide a unique opportunity to enjoy a warm moisturizing body balm, a warming massage oil, and enchanting aromatherapy all in one.
Our candles are a great intensive treatment for dry skin. Your skin will feel soft, smooth, and supple within minutes. My favorite for arthritis relief is our Sore Muscle Blend .
3. Avoid Long Hot Baths & Showers
I enjoy a hot, steamy shower on a cold winter day, but it does dry out my skin terribly. If you must have that hot shower, be prepared to use extra moisturizers. (This is where the layering I mentioned above really helps.)
Similar to the way heated air can dry your skin, so can hot water. While a long, steamy shower may sound delightful after a day in the cold, a long hot shower can strip natural oils from your skin--a real problem for your already dry winter skin.
Help your dry winter skin by turning the water temperature down and keeping your showers short.
Also, when toweling dry, do not rub the skin. Blot or pat dry so there is still some moisture left on the skin. Don't forget to apply a moisturizing cream (not lotion) to the skin immediately after a bath or shower to hold in the moisture from the shower.
4. Exfoliate regularly
When skin feels dry and itchy we love to slather on heavy creams. But dry, dull flaky skin usually means a build-up of dead, dry skin cells. We do not need to moisturize the dry, dead skin cells, we need to exfoliate to remove them.
I like to exfoliate before cleansing, but it is often a matter of personal preference. When you exfoliate before cleansing, you are lifting the dead skin cells, excess oil and impurities away from your skin. Then your natural soap helps wash it all away, along with other things like makeup and acne-causing bacteria.
Exfoliating helps reduce the dry, dull look of winter skin by removing dulling buildup and promoting a healthy cell turnover rate.
Exfoliation will brighten your skin and allow your moisturizer to penetrate better. This is the key to radiant skin, even in the wintertime.
Also, when the skin has fewer dead skin cells your moisturizer will absorb and penetrate more easily.
There are so many ways to gently exfoliate your skin from head to toe. For more information please read our blog, "The Nitty Gritty of Exfoliation."
5. Take care of your lips
During winter our lips often become more dry and flaky. So what do we do?
Not even thinking about it, we automatically lick our lips to provide temporary relief from dryness.
Licking your lips might feel great at the time by adding temporary moisture, unfortunately, this habit leaves the skin even drier!
When you lick your lips, you are coating them in saliva. The dry winter air quickly evaporates the moisture from deep within the lip skin causing excess dryness and cracking.
The best way to protect and heal dry, cracked lips is to use a moisturizing and conditioning organic lip balm and apply it to your lips throughout the day. A good balm will not only provide a barrier of protection, it will also penetrate and heal the skin and not simply coat the skin’s surface.
Choose a balm made with natural plant-based ingredients that hydrate, moisture and protect your lips.
At night many people sleep with their mouths open, causing their lips to dry out. If you apply lip balm before going to sleep you will wake up with softer, moisturized lips. Give it a try—especially in the winter.
For more information check out our blog, "How To Choose The Best Natural Lip Balm.
6. Take a pampering bath
Winter not only taxes our skin but can also tax our spirit. If the short, dark days are getting you down, a relaxing soak may be the perfect way to melt away the stresses of the cold dreary days.
With the addition of a few natural, pampering ingredients you can soothe your skin and transform your tub into a spirit-lifting experience.
Since ancient times, people have immersed themselves in warm baths to cleanse, relax, refresh, rejuvenate, and heal.
Soaking in a warm bath can help soothe sensitive skin, promote circulation, relax our muscles so we sleep better, and help relieve congestion from common colds.
Here are some tips for your pampering bath:
OATMEAL: Adding oatmeal helps provide soothing relief for dry skin. Here are two ways to create an oatmeal bath.
- Grind about 1 cup of oatmeal into a fine powder. Run a warm bath and shake the oatmeal powder into the bathtub as it fills.
- Place 1 cup of oats into a muslin bag, cheesecloth, or even old pantyhose. Add the oat bag to the tub as it fills.
MILK: Adding milk to bathwater has been done for centuries as a quick and easy way to moisturize and soften skin. Add a few cups of whole milk to a tub of warm water
HONEY: Honey, a natural humectant, has been used for thousands of years as a topical healing agent all across the world.
Honey not only helps to moisturize the skin but it helps it retain moisture (hydration), and even those with sensitive, easily irritated skin can use honey.
If you’re battling dry winter skin, a honey bath may be the ideal prescription. Add 2 - 4 tablespoons of raw honey to a running bath.
BATH OIL: Adding a moisturizing organic bath oil is a simple beauty secret that can make your skin soft, smooth, and hydrated. You can use almost any oil that your skin likes, such as olive, coconut, or sunflower.
We make organic bath, body & massage oils that are formulated with a rich blend of oils infused with skin-loving organic botanicals and can be used as a natural body oil, a bath oil, an all-over body massage, or an after-shower moisturizer to lavish your skin with love. There are so many ways to use natural bath oils.
For more tips please read, "How To Use a Natural Bath & Body Oil."
BATH SALT: A medley of soothing mineral-rich salts enhances the natural healing effects of a warm bath. Adding a bit of natural salt to a bath makes the water feel soft and silky which is a very pleasant sensation during cold winter months. Plus, salts infused with essential oils release a wonderful scent, whether it's calming lavender or invigorating mint.
For more information and recipes check out our blog, "Bath Salts and Recipes."
HERBAL BATH TEA: Organic herbal bath teas are a soothing addition to a warm bath and can also be used as an "herbal washcloth" for very dry skin. Our Soothe My Skin Bath Tea is a gentle blend of skin-soothing and softening botanicals, oats, and Himalayan Pink Sea salt.
Mix and match, get creative, and vary your bathing routine. Create an oatmeal and honey bath; a honey and milk bath; or a botanical salt bath. The pampering possibilities are endless.
Gently pat skin dry after a bath or shower. Vigorous rubbing can irritate sensitive skin. Remember to get the most from a moisturizer, use it immediately after a bath or shower.
7. Hydrate from the Inside
A cold glass of water may be quite satisfying on a hot summer day, but, enjoying a cold beverage is not quite as appealing when the temperatures outside are freezing cold. This is why people often drink less and it can be difficult to stay hydrated during the winter months.
While different people have different percentages of water weight, up to 60 percent of the human adult body is water. Babies have the most, being born at about 78 percent water.
Your body needs water to function properly.
Water helps regulate body temperature and is essential to the function of cells, tissues, and organs.
Skin cells, like any other cell in the body, are made up of water. If your skin is not getting a sufficient amount of water, it will become dry, tight, and flaky. Dry skin has less elasticity and is more prone to wrinkling.
If you find it difficult to drink lots of cold water during the winter months, try adding lemon to warm water or try some non-caffeinated, natural herbal teas.
8. Use a Humidifier
How often do you wake up on a cool winter morning feeling dehydrated?
As the temperatures drop outside during winter nights your heat goes into overdrive pulling more and more moisture from the air, causing your mouth, nose, and skin to feel dry and parched.
While a whole-house humidifier is a great addition to any furnace, a simple alternative to add moisture back into the air and your skin is having a humidifier at your bedside. Increasing the humidity helps keep your skin and respiratory tract from drying out.
Increased humidity can help with more than just dry skin.
A study published by John D. Noti, et al in February 2103, showed that when the indoor humidity was kept above 40 percent the ability of airborne viruses to cause the flu was significantly reduced. The ability of airborne viruses to cause influenza dropped from 77 percent in low humidity, to only 14 percent when humidity was increased above 40 percent. (Source)
Many doctors recommend a cool-mist humidifier and emphasize that it must be rinsed out frequently and kept super clean. Be sure to do your research!
Also, as we venture back home to escape dry, chilly outdoor air, we are often tempted to crank up the heat. But high central heat can make the air in your house even drier.
For both the body and facial skin using simple, gentle wholesome skincare with a few simple changes to your regular routine can leave even winter skin feeling protected, nourished, and pampered.
- Exfoliate gently to remove dry, dead skin. As always listen to your skin. Some body parts may need exfoliating more often than others.
- Cleanse your skin with a moisturizing all natural soap (or a facial oil for your face).
- Moisturize using extra rich products such as body butters and facial oils to give your skin added moisture and protection.
- If have sensitive skin or are prone to skin reactions stay away from fragranced laundry detergent, dryer sheets and skin care products.
With a little extra TLC you can have soft smooth radiant skin all winter long.
Sono pronto (I am ready)! Let's build a snowman.
Ida was on the New Day Cleveland Show
Ida was on the New Day Cleveland morning show, on January 30, 2013, discussing natural products for Winter skin!
A blast from the past! I just had to add this old video.
Watch the short video below!
If you would like more information on dry, itchy or winter skin
please read our "Help Me Choose Products for Dry Skin" webpage.
What helps your skin in the winter? Share your tips and secrets.
Updated: Originally posted on December 7, 2017