December 22 marked the beginning of something dreadful. It is now officially the time of year that some call “winter.” I prefer to think of it as “the cold always bothered me anyway,” or “the three months during which I sincerely wish I lived in southern California or Hawaii or Jamaica or basically the equator.”
Yes, I’m exaggerating. I do enjoy Christmas and… um… scarves…?, but winter is not my favorite, and one of my biggest complaints is the toll it takes on my already-dry skin. Winter’s moisture-free air creates irritated areas on my skin that, when left untreated, look similar to a blotchy red breakout and almost always itch like crazy. The tiny tint of brown I have left over from the summer is now flecked with white patches that look like a serious condition rather than a case of dry skin. On my face, my makeup flakes off in chunks, and my upper arms look like skinned knees.
I don’t pretend to be a dermatologist or an expert on all things dry skin, but I have a few rituals that have worked wonders for me. This list will not include “move to Hawaii;” thankfully, my ideas are much more budget-friendly.
1. Find a great lotion (or lotions).
My grandmother makes the most wonderful homemade lotion. It’s easy and only contains three basic ingredients, which will hopefully appeal to those who prefer a more organic and natural approach.
Mix ingredients thoroughly with an electric mixer, and voilà! You’ve got yourself the most amazing lotion in the world. During the winter I use it on my face daily, and as needed on my arms and legs.
Summarized: A good lotion will make all the difference for dry skin this winter. You can use it on your arms, legs, and face interchangeably. There’s no burning sensation when used on extra-irritated areas, and it leaves skin looking radiant. Really. I look shiny afterward.
2. Use moisturizing facial tissues.
When I get a cold, I cannot—I repeat, cannot—use regular tissues. I don’t know if this is a dry skin problem or a personal problem, but I get scabs inside my nose because it is so irritated from constant blowing.
Again, so appealing.
Anyway, the only brand of tissue I’ll use when I have a cold is Puffs Plus Lotion. It really helps with dry skin on the nose, and when I use these, my scabs don’t appear. (Of course, if I want to avoid the cold altogether, I use Zicam nasal or oral spray at the first sign of my pre-cold sore throat—I swear to you I have not had a serious cold in years. But that’s another story.)
Summarized: These tissues are like blowing your nose into lotion. I actually come away from the snotty mess feeling that I have moisturized my nostrils. It’s great.
*Disclaimer: I tried to research and was unable to determine the ingredients used in these, but there is a chance they contain aloe vera, so I recommend making sure before purchasing if you have any allergies.*
3. Eliminate powder foundation; find a good primer.
I usually use both liquid and powder foundation in my makeup routine. However, I recently began noticing that my extra-dry skin wasn’t holding the powder; instead, it flaked off around my nose and cheeks despite the fact that I was using lotion regularly. My face looked like it was healing from a serious sunburn, so naturally I cursed my powder and am currently on hiatus until the weather changes.
Just as I’m no dermatologist, I’m also no esthetician, so please take the following advice with a grain of salt. I have heard and always thought that the purpose of powder foundation was to help set your liquid foundation. That’s how I’ve used it my whole makeup-wearing life, but I’ve found that using a primer underneath my liquid foundation can be just as good, if not better for those of us with dry skin. For budget friendliness, I recommend Baby Skin by Maybelline or L’Oreal Paris Magic Lumi Light Infusing Primer.
Summarized: Powder foundation is (probably) fantastic for oily skin, but dry skin needs moisture, moisture, moisture. Primers give your face not only an extra dose of liquid, but they also illuminate your skin and leave your face looking brighter—a fantastic remedy for the dullness left behind by dry spots.
4. Don’t skip hand washing.
Yes, this is disgusting. Yes, I deserve to be judged. No, if you ever travel back in time, you should not shake hands with me.
During the winter, my hands get so chapped and dry that I would skip hand washing. The harsh soaps I used to buy would cause my skin burned so badly that I reverted back to my childhood ways and began to use the “rinse only” method. I know it’s unhygienic. Don’t hate me. Hate Bath and Body Works’ seasonally appropriate scents. They’re mesmerizing in the store until my hands catch fire (not their fault, just not helpful on my skin type).
Here’s what I recommend: wash your hands with moisturizing soaps. My favorite is SoftSoap’s Soothing Aloe Vera. (If you haven’t noticed already, I’m really into saving money. And using parenthesis.) Also, a FANTASTIC alternative to regular hand sanitizer is Gold Bond Ultimate Hand Sanitizer Moisturizer. Use it exactly as you’d use hand sanitizer: right before you start eating at a restaurant, right after you’ve used a public restroom, immediately following the sneeze of a random shopper in the aisles of Target, etc. It’s hand sanitizing lotion, and it’s incredible. Say goodbye to dry, cracked hands. Say goodbye to dry, cracked hands. If you feel like spending more money for a higher end product, Nerium gets some good reviews too.
Summarized: Proper hygiene can be yours by replacing your regular soaps and hand sanitizers with their moisturizing alternatives.
5. Brush your lips with a toothbrush.
If you’re anything like me, dry skin doesn’t stop with the face, hands, arms, and legs. My lips are habitually chapped in the winter, and I have had a hard time finding a lip balm that works every time. In fact, I’ve heard that certain lip balms actually dry out your lips, making it really difficult to know which products to use or not to use.
I’ve used everything, and I would have to say that my top recommendations are products by Burt’s Bees and Vaseline, but one of my favorite ways to eliminate dead skin from the lips is simply to brush my lips with my toothbrush. It sounds crazy, but it totally works. The process actually brings the blood to the surface of your lips, making them feel all tingly and weird yet healthy. It also takes off the dead skin gently, which is much better than picking at your lips—one of my worst winter habits.
*Disclaimer: I’ve never used this trick on severely dry, cracked, or scabbed lips—just in the beginning stages, when the skin is beginning to peel.*
Summarized: Stopping chapped lips at the source may help with some less extreme cases. Brushing them gently with a toothbrush—directly after brushing your teeth—is quick, easy, and effective.
Dry skin may be enviable when you’re a 13-year-old with oil for days, but it really sucks when you’re in itchy pain all winter. Once again, I’m no expert, and obviously if you’re having serious problems you should see a dermatologist. But for those of you like me who have minor dry skin that can feel not-so-minor when you’re experiencing it, don’t hesitate to check out these tips and products—and feel free to recommend your own!
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