8 Natural Tips to Help Eliminate Dry Winter Skin
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 and itchy skin and decreases our skin's natural defenses.
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.
The seasonal changes can cause the skin to crack and become flaky, itchy, dry, red, and irritated. For those with normally dry or sensitive skin, symptoms will often worsen during the winter months.
Since dry skin is often more sensitive. Stay away from skin care products and even laundry detergents made with synthetic fragrance or colors.
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.
A mild natural, moisturizing soap is recommended for dry skin, especially during cold weather. Look for products 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. They often strip away natural skin-protecting oils which exacerbates dry skin and make it feel worse.
Also 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.
For a list of our soaps for sensitive or dry skin, please read Help Me Choose Soap.
2. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
In the winter months it is important to hydrate your skin often and regularly. Moisturizing helps protect skin from water loss and maintains a healthy barrier from the environment.
The lack of humidity during the cold winter months dries out your skin, stripping it of natural oils.
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 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 wet as you apply your moisturizer. Moisturizers spread more easily on skin that is slightly wet.
Apply moisturizer while still in the shower!
I love taking a hot shower before bed. While I know that some frown upon a hot bedtime shower because it raises your body temperature, 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!
In summer it is not a problem, but in winter my naturally dry skin will itch like crazy all night long.
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 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 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 dries 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.
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.
For more information check out 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.
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, 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.
BATH SALT: A medley of soothing mineral-rich salts enhances the natural healing effects of a warm bath. 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!
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, once or twice a week, 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.
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 secrets.