The cold outdoors and heated interiors make for a one-two punch that leaves skin prone to dryness. Nobody wants dry itchy skin. And while there are oodles of commercial products promising supple hydration, too many moisturizers do their bidding with synthetic ingredients that nobody should be rubbing into the largest organ of the body. Really, keep this in mind: Skin covers an area of 21 square feet on the average adult and plays host to more than 11 miles of blood vessels.1 Who wants to be rubbing petroleum distillates and parabens into that?
The following practices promise to soothe and hydrate, and when the occasion calls for it, by the use of gentle ingredients that you may already have on hand:
1. Skip the Hot Shower
Few things feel better than a steaming hot shower on a cold day. Your skin disagrees. Super hot water dries it out to no end. Give it a lukewarm shower, and if you use soap, make sure it is all-natural and the most gentle one you can find.
2. Employ Staples to Exfoliate
You can buy an expensive jar of salt or sugar scrub to exfoliate – which removes dead skin cells and creates fresh skin that is more easily able to absorb moisturizers – or you can quickly whip up some all-natural formulasin your kitchen for pennies.
3. Moisturize While Damp
Whatever your moisturizing routine, do it when you’re fresh from the shower or bath – lotions are designed to lock in moisture, so make their job easier by using them when your skin is at its most moist.
4. Bathe Like Cleopatra
According to legend, Cleopatra’s skincare routine involved luxurious milk and honey baths. Research has shown that honey soothes and moisturizes the skin, and may also slow the formation of wrinkles.2 However, the thought of reclining in a voluminous vat of pure milk seems unsavory at best and egregiously wasteful at worst. Instead, add a more sensible two cups of milk and a quarter cup of honey to a not-so-hot bath and soak like Egyptian royalty (or at least like a silent movie starlet).
5. Slather Yourself With Honey and Olive Oil
Honey has incredible properties that make it a great friend to skin; olive oil does too. Combine them to pamper your skin and hair. Mix a spoonful of honey with a spoonful of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice (a natural skin brightener). Apply this lotion to dry areas and let sit for 20 minutes. Wipe off with a warm washcloth.
6. Try the Overnight Express
When skin is particularly dry, this treatment can’t be beaten. Take a long, tepid bath before bed; long enough that your toes and fingers begin to wrinkle. Pat yourself dry and immediately coat yourself in oil – olive oil or coconut oil are appetizing options. Whatever your choice in oil, spread it all over, put on some old pajamas that you don’t care that much about, and send yourself to sleep. Wake up soft.
7. Take an Oatmeal Bath
Oatmeal has been used to treat skin for a few thousand years; and even science says that it’s effective for its moisturizing, cleansing, antioxidative, and anti-inflammatory properties, while at the same time offering minimal incidence of irritation.3
To make an oatmeal bath: Blend 1 cup of dry oatmeal (use plain instant, quick oats, or slow cooking oats) in a food processor or blender until you have a fine powder. Scatter the mixture into a tub with running water, swirling with your hand a few times for even distribution and breaking up any lumps on the bottom of the tub. Soak in the bath for 15 to 20 minutes, pat yourself dry when you get out. Depending on how dry your skin is, you can use this up to twice a day, or more if your doctor agrees.
8. Drink Water
Every bit of advice given by every supermodel urges us to drink water for our skin. Everyone chimes in with the same suggestion, but is it true? Drinking water is crucial for good health, but research on the effect of water on skin hydration is not yet conclusive.4 Still, it can’t hurt, and you should stay hydrated for the benefit of your entire body.