General Interest

Eight Ways to Protect Your Skin from Dryness – Easily and Economically

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Harsh winter weather is not usually a problem in balmy Georgia where I live. But this winter, the temps have been extra cold for longer periods of time. Usually February offers plenty of mild sunny days as a sweet appetizer to the spring weather just around the bend, but we had 9 inches of snow covering the ground on Valentine’s Day.  The constant running of central heat for weeks really took a toll on my skin. I had to take some action besides scratching! 

Here are eight tips I discovered that helped combat the parched desert covering my body.  

Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.

It makes so much sense but when an esthetician asked me if I drank more water during the winter months, I had to say no. In fact, my water intake actually decreases because the weather is cooler, and I'm not working up the sweat like I do when it's humid out. What's more, I love hot drinks in the winter.  Hot chocolate, spiced apple cider, hot teas, mulled wine. When I mentioned that to her, and she asked if I'd wash my car with tea, I saw her point.  Because hot drinks can dehydrate, pure unadulterated water – and lots of it – is best to replenish lost moisture in the winter. Since I've increased my H2O intake, the dry mouth and nasal passages I experienced during night breathing has diminished. I keep water by my side now, even when I'm in bed. 

Hands in Gloves for some Extra Love

I bought a cheap pair of cotton gloves (available in cosmetic department at drugstores or superstores). Before bed, I apply a thick layer of cream (not lotion) before slipping my hands into the gloves and going to sleep. The heat the cotton generates is almost as good of those warming mitts at the manicurist. I wake up with dewy hands.  Shea butter is ranked as one of the best deep moisturizers, so use that if possible. A few times each week will do the trick.

Don’t Neglect the Feet

I learned this tip from a running magazine. Before setting out for a run or a walk, lather a rich lotion into your feet, paying attention to the heels. Slip on socks and go do your thing.  Your exercise will cause the feet to perspire, which opens your skin’s pores and, in turn, improves absorption of the lotion. I don’t exercise outdoors during these temps, but this technique works equally well when I take my workout – whatever it is – to the gym.

Adding Some Greenery Adds Moisture

A fun and lovely trick is to add live plants to your space. Plants naturally moisturize the air. Keep them watered and mist them daily to increase moisture output.  My bedroom is starting to resemble my apartment of the 70s when I was going for the cool “Three’s Company” sitcom look. My lips are less chapped since I became an indoor gardener.

You could also use a humidifier, which I don’t.  But I do set bowls of water in my bedroom at night to put moisture into the air as the water slowly evaporates.  After taking a bath, I leave the water in the tub for the same reason.

Throw Sunscreen in the Console of Your Car

I’m not as likely to use sunscreen during the gray days of winter for obvious reasons. I have become aware though of how the sunshine beams through my car windows. I can almost feel the hyper-pigmentations (don’t call them age spots) popping through the skin of my now dewy hands. By keeping sunscreen in the car, I can pull the tube from the console and apply whenever the sunlight zeros in on my hands with laser sharpness.

A Cheaper Alternative to Vitamin E Oil

We’ve all heard about the antioxidant benefits of using Vitamin E oil to protect the skin. During my last facial, my sweet friend used vitamin E oil to gently remove my eye makeup. Vitamin E oil can be expensive, but I remembered that when I was 16 and dealing with acne, my family doctor told me open up a Vitamin E gel capsule and rub the oil into my skin. I’m not sure if the vitamin E oil helped my acne but it did make my skin glow. I had some cheap vitamin E capsules in my medicine cabinet that I no longer take for various reasons.  I cut one open with a pair of manicure scissors and used my fingers to apply the oil to lids and lashes. I easily cleaned the makeup off with a cotton ball, and the eye area was left with a nice coat of oil that lasted all night.

I Love Olive Oyl

Extra virgin olive oil is gaining a foothold in the beauty industry. Rich in vitamins A and E, it can treat a variety of dryness woes. I keep a bottle in the bathroom rather than the kitchen.  My favorite two uses are to massage a little into dry cuticles for instant softening. And occasionally I add 5 tablespoons to bath water for a super indulgence. Sophie Loren is reported to have taken olive oil baths.

Exfoliate. Exfoliate. Exfoliate.

This tip is almost as crucial at the triple-hydrate one. As we age our skin slows down its natural sloughing off of dead cells. The build-up of dead skin keeps those creamy moisturizers and oils that it’s craving from getting to surface level.  We need to give the old stuff a boost, to bid it adieu.  Brushing a loofah over your skin during showers will help.  You can add a good-smelling sugar scrub if you like aroma therapy. An alternative to loofahs and scrubs may be in your kitchen. Sprinkle a little cornmeal in the palm of your hand, dampen with water, and apply. The fine grains in cornmeal make this procedure gentle enough even for sensitive skin.

No matter where you live, your skin deserves some extra TLC during the winter months.  Take just a little time out of your day to attend to it and you will see and feel instant rewards. Our skin is our largest organ but often gets taken for granted until there is a problem.  Show it some love today.
Editor's Note:  Candyce Deal is a freelance writer in north Georgia and has written for national consumer and trade magazines including Working Mother, 1,001 Home Ideas, Mothers Today, Baby Talk, Home Life, Living With Preschoolers, Marriage & Family, Marriage Partnership, Vibrant Life, and others. She's contributed curriculum and teaching ideas to Lifeway, The Education Center, Mailbox Magazine, Early Years, Momentum: Journal of the National Catholic Education Association, and Good Apple. She's also presented thematic teaching units at conferences and served on a statewide effort to improve understanding and implementation of the NCTM Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics.

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