Skincare Tips for Winter
The cold dry air of winter in the Northeast can be a real challenge for skin. Chapped lips, irritated noses, itchy feet, and being swarmed with options for products can feel daunting. I write to tell you it can actually be quite simple.
Here are a few tips for skincare in the winter that I follow and experience major relief. They’re now so much part of my daily routine that I barely even think about it.
These tips will not break the bank, either. I started to use them when I did not have extra cash for expensive cleansers and moisturizers with mysterious ingredients. The creams I recommend are easy to make, too. Take a workshop with me or find a recipe you like and play around.
Have you ever noticed how you feel more dry a few minutes after applying certain lotions and lip balm? Well, that’s because many products contain alcohol and other preservatives that have drying qualities. I wonder if this keeps you applying more for relief only to use up the whole bottle in short order? Hmm….a good business strategy but not for the consumer!
Please note, and this is really important: body care products are not regulated and can say whatever they wish on the label such as “all natural,” “no preservatives,” “gluten free,” on and on without any regulation upholding them to these statements.
Always read labels and if you can’t pronounce any of the ingredients then it’s wise to put it back on the shelf. What you put on your skin you are essentially consuming because skin absorbs everything directly into the body.
Read this article about what the skin is to learn more. Essentially the epidermis, your surface skin layer, is the largest organ of the body and it protects you from bacteria, viruses, internal damage such as from the sun, heat, light, and injury. Your skin is your protective armor doing a lot of work behind the scenes, or on the front lines but not getting a whole lot of credit. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is called the Wei Qi barrier and they say it extends at least 3 feet in front of the body to protect a person from disease.
The dermis, the middle layer in the skin is full of blood vessels, nerves, lymph cells, hair follicles, sweat glands, fibroblasts, collagen bundles and sebaceous glands. It contains touch and pain receptors.
The third layer of skin is the subcutaneous layer which is made up of collagen and fat cells. It helps the body contain heat and protect it from injury acting as a shock absorber.
I learned in herbalism school that sometimes when a person has unresolved skin issues, to look beneath the surface of emotions and past/present traumas. Is there something they are trying to hide or protect themselves from? Shame and fear can be the culprit of persistent skin issues like ache, boils, rashes, redness, swelling and itchiness.
If you or someone you know has persistent unresolved skin issues talk with your doctor, herbalist or dermatologist. If you prefer a more natural route, book a session with me over zoom or in person. Often, skin issues are rooted in the liver, so we will find herbs that support a healthy liver and ways to promote detoxification from the blood.
With all that in mind, let’s talk about how to best serve our precious protective layer. Please note that everyone has different kinds of skin so these tips may not be conducive to all, but they can be a starting point.
5 Tips for Natural Skincare
Washing your face with cleansers removes your natural oils. I recommend not using soaps and cleansers more than a few times per week. And always moisturize after using any cleanser because skin without its natural oils produces excess oils to find balance leading to oily skin conditions. The only soap that ever touches my face and body is organic goat milk soap from a small farm in Barre, MA. The fats and oils in goat milk soap do not leave my skin feeling dried out.
Wash your face with a gentle cloth and warm water (not hot). *This is my mother’s advice and though I resisted it in high school because I wanted all the fancy cleansers, this method is the only method that actually worked. Do not scrub aggressively. Let the warm water open the pores to remove dirt. Then, rinse with cool water to close up the pores at the end otherwise they will be vulnerable to more dirt and bacteria.
Pat your face dry with a clean towel and see how you feel after a few minutes. Are you dry and need a moisturizer? If so, then only use ones you trust and know what is in it. Shameless self-promotion: I make one called Rose Day Cream that has only five ingredients you can pronounce. Bonus: I still make it in small batches in my Grandmother’s 1960s Glass Osterizer blender. It’s simply the best because the original recipe is adapted from Herbalist, Rosemary Gladstar’s “Best Cream.”
What exactly is a face cream? Creams are lotions, a blend of water and fats whipped together to emulsify. The reason my Rose Day and Lavender Night Creams work so well is because they contain organic jojoba oil (actually a wax) which is similar to our body’s oils. Plus, it will not stain your sheets or clothing (it’s what massage therapists use). The rosewater and aloe vera gel soothe tissues and help the body absorb the oils into the pores. Without the water elements in this cream, it would sit on top, similar to how salves do because they are oil and beeswax based. I infuse the jojoba oil with calendula flowers first, giving it an extra healing property. Calendula is anti-bacterial, repairs damaged cells, holds moisture, and softens the tissue. I use calendula in almost all of my products including Healing Balm for cuts, scrapes, bruises, bug bites, and eczema. Side note: Rose Day Cream is also wonderful as a diaper cream for the babies.
Dry brushing on the body is a wonderful practice for removing dead skin cells and stimulating the lymphatic system removing toxins and metabolic waste from the body. Honestly, I haven’t tried it because I prefer using a washcloth in a hot shower but this lady seems to love it.
Reach out with any comments/questions, I enjoy feedback. Love your skin this winter!