Cold weather is always challenging for keeping skin hydrated. The chill and wind batters skin, particularly hands and face. What to do? I have suffered with ragged winter skin on my fingers for years. What I’ve learned — ingredients and frequency are the best tools.

Daily: Use good soap.

Around the holidays, my two older children told me that they had developed dry skin issues. They both showed me eczema patches on their arms and legs and wanted to know if I had a product to help with dry, itchy skin. My first piece of advice – throw away the body wash! My all-knowing post-teen boys had drifted from OLSW soap to the advertising and easier dispensing of commercial liquid soap. What could mom possibly know beyond what they learned on their computer screen? On son asked “how can it be drying, it has cocoa butter in it?” I answered his questions with another question: “have you looked at what else it has in it?” It doesn’t matter that a product states having a beneficial ingredient if the balance of the ingredients are chemicals and skin drying agents.

OLSW makes a full line of natural, moisturizing soaps. Go to the Shop Soaps page and figure out which scent is right for you. The base soap is a combination of 6 moisturizing oils: olive, coconut, palm kernel, avocado, castor oils and shea butter. The superstar moisturizers are shea butter and avocado oil. Many people love shea butter for it’s luxurious, creamy consistency. It’s skin benefits are well known. It has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant components. It promotes collagen production and skin cell regeneration, giving it anti-aging effects. Avocado oil is another well known nourishing agent. It’s vitamins and fatty acids help your skin maintain moisture level and its antioxidants protect skin from environmental elements that cause aging in skin.

P.S. – Two weeks after returning to OLSW soap use, both boys reported no more eczema patches.

Daily: Don’t Skip Moisturizers

Providing skin with moisture multiple times per day is critical in winter months. All cleansers, no matter how gentle or natural, will deplete the skin’s natural oils. Additionally, we all come into contact with water multiple times per day aside from morning rituals. Winter’s cold is an added challenge with low humidity and winds further diminishing your skin’s ability to maintain a healthy moisture level.

Read product ingredients very carefully. In general, the smaller the maker, the more beneficial the product. Small makers don’t take shortcuts on ingredients and don’t need to pack a product with chemicals and preservatives so that the product can be sold 5 years from now. Corporate skincare makers look at longevity whereas small producers target short-term sales. The difference in the sales focus translates to you, the consumer, getting a more natural, uncomplicated product.

OLSW makes several products for battling skin dryness (see Shop Specialty Items page). The Chamomile Calendula Lotion is designed to be a quick post-shower moisture boost for your body. Using this daily will soothe dry skin and promote moisture and elasticity. Your face needs a good dose of moisture at least once a day. OLSW makes three types of face oils, one will surely soothe your winter skin.

In addition to once per day routines, people suffering from winter dry skin should also look into a more intense moisturizer to replenish multiple times per day. For shea butter lovers, try organic unrefined shea butter for revitalizing dry spots. I make two products which include organic shea butter: 100% Shea Butter infused with essential oils and Shea Butter Whip, which incorporates lighter oils for quicker penetration. Read the benefits of shea butter above and let it work for you. I also make two different replenishing salves. Chappy Skin Salve is avocado oil based (benefits also discussed above). Lemon Pep Healing balm is sunflower oil infused with the healing herb, lemon balm. Both are all natural and scented with essential oils. Massaging in any of these concentrated moisturizers multiple times per day will give quick benefits.

Daily: Let Essential Oils Work For You

In winter months, my customers crave citrus and mint essential oils. For good reason. These essential oils replenish what our bodies and minds are craving in darker, colder months. Citrus such as lemon, orange and grapefruit provide vitamin C and have strong mental associations with summer and warmth. Mints and earthy ground us mentally and provide anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agents which help us fight illness. Create a daily routine of skin products or aromatherapy to help your body and mind remember that winter is good and necessary. It provides the tabula rasa for rebirth in the spring and gives our minds a respite from our quick-paced lives (hopefully returning soon!) that we create for ourselves in more temperate weather.

The biggest lesson is that good daily habits lead to better skin. If you’re constantly suffering from dry, itchy skin, your body is communicating that your daily habits aren’t doing enough to keep your skin hydrated. Examine your routines and supplement more intense moisturizers or more frequent use, or both. You ultimately know what your body needs. As your inner body tells you that it’s not satisfied with the food that you’re feeding it, your outer body is just as expressive. Listen.

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