Written by Natalie Klejwa, Contributing Writer
I'm from Minnesota. It isn't exactly the North Pole, but it's getting awfully close. Most of us up here are well acquainted with the dry skin woes, including eczema, cracked and bleeding knuckles, flaking facial skin, cuticle cuts, chapped lips and rough, hard, dried out feet. It's not pretty.
To make matters worse, women are sorely tempted to soak in the sun during the few weeks of summer, reaping more skin trouble down the road as their sun baked skin ages. Solutions range from expensive, chemical laden moisture creams to harsh oral and topical prescription drugs. What's a girl to do?
I'd like to share a few simple tips to keep the largest organ of your body in tip top shape, no matter what the temperature is outside. You'll also get to enjoy some smart, easy recipes using all natural ingredients that will actually nourish and support the health of your skin. They may even help you stay younger looking, longer!
Avoid Overexposure to the Elements
It is healthy to be outdoors, breathing fresh air and getting exercise; however, if you are out in the sun, the heat, or the cold unprotected, expect to reap the sad results on your skin, both in the short term, and the long term. Be sure to use a skin safe sunscreen and wear a hat that shades your face.
I was one of those white wierdos who hated laying out in the sun in my early adult years. To me, getting a tan wasn't worth the sweat, the head aches, and the feeling that all my energy had been zapped by the time I was done broiling for amount of time required to be beautifully bronzed.
Although I didn't know it at the time, my aversion to the sun would pay off in huge dividends as an older adult. My Dr. has told me my skin appears 10 years younger than it should...and attributes it in a large degree to my over all avoidance of the sun over the course of my life. It's never too late to implement safe practices in this area, and for sure, it would be a great idea to pass this on to older daughters who want beautiful, healthy skin, not just in their youth, but for their lifetime.
It's simple. You need to be drinking lots of water. Our bodies tend to crave it in the summer when we are sweating it out, but most people don't realize how important it is to be drinking in the winter, when we don't naturally desire it.
Many people have their furnaces running at some point during the winter months. (Up here it's all the time. This type of heat is excessively dry and wreaks havoc on our systems. You can have a humidifier put on your furnace to help offset some of the effects, but you will also need to be replacing all that lost moisture by regularly taking in fluids internally.
Avoid Body Cleansers That Dry Out Your Skin
Most of the soaps and shampoos available at your local drug store are terribly drying to skin due to their chemical based ingredients. In fact, I believe these are the worst culprits for causing some of the most difficult dry skin conditions. Just by switching to healthy alternatives that actually rehydrate your skin while cleaning it, you can eliminate most of the common skin ailments known today.
Some of the worst things you can use on your skin are also the least expensive, but you end up paying a higher price with your health, and often by having to purchase other products, including prescription drugs, to combat the issues that these cleansers cause.
Did you know that the most wonderfully nourishing products to care for the health of your skin are very simple oils and butters found in nature? God has lovingly made provisions in the world He created around us to support all of our body systems, including that very important protective organ of our skin.
These oils and butters are readily available in health food stores, online, and sometimes in your local grocery store! They are most effective when used in their raw, virgin state; and when combined with each other, can make incredibly effective facial and body moisturizers that would rival the most expensive beauty creams available today.
I've long since discarded the creams and lotions I used to buy in favor of these natural alternatives, and I've been more than thrilled with the results!
Here are some of my favorite moisturizing recipes. I've been making and selling some of these for almost three years...right out of my kitchen. If I can do it, so can you.
I suggest going in together with some other families, making a batch of these luscious goodies, and then sharing them with one another throughout the year. (They make great gifts too!)
Two Body Lotion Solutions
I used to slather a store bought lotion all over my body every time I got out of the shower, but I really felt uncomfortable doing that when I was pregnant, knowing that those scents/chemicals were being absorbed into my bloodstream and would need to be dealt with by my internal organs and the baby's as well. This ended up being my motivation to find a better alternative. Here's my #1 favorite:
Brown Sugar Body Scrub
This recipe will make 4 jars (8 ounce size). I go through one jar per month when showering every other day.
What you'll need:
- 4 ounce jars with lids (I get mine online from Wholesale Supplies Plus)
- 1 16 ounce bag of brown sugar
- 1 scant cup of sweet almond oil
- 1/3 scant cup of grapeseed oil
- 1/3 scant cup of fractionated coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon of essential oil of your choice.
Mix thoroughly and pack into jars. To use, take a small scoop in your hands and rub on each limb of the body after you are done washing in the shower. It will gently exfoliate your skin while leaving it silky, moisturized, and lightly scented. It takes very little time, and there is no need for additional lotion when you hop out of the shower! I adore this stuff.
Special Notes: Instead of the three different oils, you can opt to keep it super simple and just use the sweet almond oil. All three of those oils are fabulous because they are relatively inexpensive and easily absorbed into the skin. I've experimented with other oils with poor results. These are, by far, my favorites.
Since vitamin E oil is a natural antioxidant, I add a bit as a preservative. If you know you'll be using yours within a couple of months, you can skip that step.
Avoid citrus essential oils on your skin if you know you will be out in the sun. These essential oils are photo-toxic, and not safe with sun exposure. It would be better to go with skin loving lavender, ylang ylang, geranium, etc. There are some really amazing blends out there that you could try. The point is...go have some crazy fun with this, and fall in love with your shower regiment!
Organic Jojoba Oil
The oil that most resembles your skin's own sebum, Jojoba oil is absolutely amazing. This is my simple solution if I need to apply a "lotion" to my skin. It is fabulous on the face (it is safe around the eye area!) and everywhere else. It literally makes your skin glow. A little goes a long way, it is easily absorbed, helps balance your skin whether you have oily skin or dry skin, is excellent for massage, and you can even use it to remove your makeup!
No recipe required here. Just buy some. If you love to play with scents, you can add a few drops of essential oil. And if you want to make a to-die-for natural perfume, add even more essential oil and dab it on those pulse points.
Nourish Your Face
You'll find the most delicate and sensitive skin tissue on your face. Not only do you need to be careful what goes here, but you need to be sure you are using ingredients that are safe around your eyes. Years ago I tried out an all natural facial oil serum that worked better than anything I had ever used on my face before. It was a bit of a transition to go from a cream based to an oil based product (for example...you only need a few drops of an oil based product), but once I got the hang of it, I was hooked.
You can make your own nourishing facial serum by using one or a combination of the following oils.
Virgin, Organic Argan oil: Quite possibly the creme-de-la-creme of oils. Argan oil is full of vitamin E and phenols, carotenes, squalene and fatty acids. It absorbs quickly and is known for its ability to balance skin as well as reduce acne, wrinkles, stretch marks, and other skin related issues.
A couple drops in your damp hair provides a great thermal protector and will make your hair soft and shiny. A drop around each eye at night will reduce crow's feet. This is my new favorite oil. It costs more than anything else, but lasts forever, and I think, is well worth the investment.
Organic Jojoba oil: See my notes above
Rosehip Seed oil: Also extremely high in essential fatty acids, this unique oil has been historically known for treating scars, extremely dry skin, and premature aging.
Evening Primrose oil: An amazingly healing-type oil wonderful for rosacea, eczema, aging skin, skin ulcers and acne.
Carrot Seed essential oil: Excellent for wrinkle reduction and removing toxins from skin...but VERY pricey.
I like to add a few drops of skin-loving essential oil too. These not only add a light and lovely scent, but they offer some pretty amazing benefits to your skin as well. Lavender, geranium, and ylang ylang are my favorites.
You can make your serum as simple or complex as you desire. The more of these types of ingredients are added, the more of a well rounded serum you will have. One idea would be to purchase a few different ingredients with some friends, mix them up, and pour into small bottles to share with each other.
I recommend making no more than an ounce for individual use at a time as you will want to use it up within a year. You may also want to add a little vitamin E oil to help keep your serum from oxidation and preserve your precious oils.
Love Your Lips
I have a few great recipes for lip balm, but my favorite by far for winter time is my lanolin based balm. Why? Lanolin will cover your lips with a strong, protective barrier from the elements while holding moisture in. It is essential in the winter and works better than anything else I have ever tried. The following recipe will fill 15 lip balm tubes.
Lanolin Based Lip Balm
- .6 oz. unrefined beeswax
- .3 oz. cocoa butter
- .3 oz. aloe butter
- .3 oz. mango butter
- .6 oz. lanolin
- .6 oz. sweet almond oil
- .3 oz. jojoba
- a few drops of vitamin E oil
Melt the above just until it liquifies. Remove from heat. Add essential oils of your choice. I love 15 drop of eucalyptus, 7 drops of tea tree, 15 drops of rosemary and 15 drops of peppermint. Mix. Pour into tubes up to the tips of the stick in the middle of the tube. Then go back and top off the tubes with the remaining mix so the tubes are full. Allow to cool completely before capping.
I purchase my lip balm tubes from Wholesale Supplies Plus, but you can get them other places online as well.
Special notes: If you want to simplify the ingredients in the recipe, try this:
- .6 oz. unrefined beeswax
- .9 oz. unrefined cocoa butter
- .6 oz. lanolin
- .9 oz. sweet almond oil
One last tip: don't use shea butter in lip balm. It tends to fractionate, making your balm "grainy". The ingredients I use have all been tested and proven over the years to be "fractionating-free". A plus for your sensitive lip tissue.
Treat Your Tootsies
Got feet problems? Many people do. A hard lotion bar is the perfect solution. There are a bazillion recipes out there, but here's the simple skinny: you need 1 part beeswax, 1 part liquid oil and 1 part hard butter. Melt together, pour into mold (a fast, easy mold to use is a silicone mold) and let cool.
You can use any combination of oils and butters that you wish. I love cocoa butter and shea butter best. For oils I love sweet almond, avocado, and jojoba. Virgin coconut oil is nice too. If you want your bars to be scented, just add some drops of essential oil. Rub this wonder bar on your feet at night, and watch them transform from gnarled, dry appendages into soft, silky works of art.
Taking excellent care of your skin doesn't have to be rocket science. By investing in a few simple, natural ingredients, you can mix up some pretty incredible concoctions that will keep your skin happy during the long winter months!
Do you struggle with dry skin during the winter? What products and methods do you use to care for it?
Stephanie's note: I'm sure Natalie doesn't want to toot her own horn, but her family runs a business called Apple Valley Natural Soap (hence her extensive knowledge in this area!). Our family uses their simple and pure soap bars and shampoo bars. They are just lovely, not drying at all (and we live up North, too). I also agree that hard lotion bars are a fantastic solution for dry skin, and these are the ones that I use and adore (and this link is my affiliate link, which you are not obligated to use, but it does help to support this site).