Winter is the fucking worst for dry, chapped, crocodilian skin syndrome, especially post holiday "season". Alcohol, sugar, dairy, processed foods, coffee and chocolate can all lead to itchy, flaky, sad skin. So now that it's January and you're all "I'm gonna be the HEALTHIEST, go get me a gym membership and start drinking nothing but carrot juice" here's a few simple ways you can help your precious skin recover and maintain a healthy glow for the duration of the winter moisture suck.
1. DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT GOING NEAR THE DRUGSTORE
Pharmacies and drug stores stock an upsettingly tempting amount of creams, lotions and potions on their shelves. It can be exceptionally difficult to resist for both the clueless and the avid product junkie (guilty!)
Here’s the issue though. Most (if not all) of the products in your local drugstore claim to relieve dry skin and do all this nourishing shit. They even advertise that they're “natural” and “organic”. Trust me, they ain’t.
Drugstore skin products are loaded with harsh chemicals like fragrances, dyes and cheap fillers. When you slather on these toxic lotions your skin is not only irritated by the additives but it isn't even really being repaired. Like crap conditioners, cheapie skin creams are often made with parabens (aka plastic) which essentially coat the skin in an impermeable barrier. So you’re not actually being moisturized, you’re being wrapped in a thin layer of cellophane. Perhaps relieving for a while, but as soon as you take your cream condom off, you’re left with yesterday’s flaky dried out carrots. Nobody wants those.
Take a trip to a health food store or natural skin care shop. Look for ingredients like shea butter, cocoa butter, safflower oil, sweet almond oil, borage and avocado oil. The more butters, oils and natural ingredients, the better. That being said, a short list of ingredients is generally a sign that you're in the right department. It doesn't need to be that complicated.
2. ARGAN OIL FOR YOUR FACE (AND HAIR - DOUBLE WHAMMY)
You may find that your moisturizer isn’t really doing it for you by this point in the game. But if you’re like me, i.e. you like to buy and make organic skin care with a limited shelf life, buying a whole separate moisturizer can be expensive or wasteful. The alternative to having an appointed winter moisturizer is to add oil to your existing one. Argan oil is incredibly moisturizing, won't clog pores and remedies flakiness. Just add a little pea sized amount in your palm along with your moisturizer and you’ve just added exponentially more nourishing points to your face and décolleté.
Also, you can use any handy excess oil on your dry, frizzy, brittle split ends. You have all heard about argan oil on hair by now right? Hello Moroccan Oil? Yeah, babe.
3. TRY A NEW CLEANSER
You know by now that your skin is way different in the winter than in the summer. You don’t use the same colour foundation in August as you do in January, do you? (If so, please PM me. I can help. I won’t call you names - except the ones you give me) The same applies to your skin care regime. The elements have shifted, your skin has changed and thus you must roll with nature. If you aren’t already using a gel or cream cleanser, give it a shot. Cream cleansers aren’t my jam (the fun of having combination acne prone skin forever and a day) but I tried a gel cleanser this winter and it’s fabulously gentle and non stripping. Loves it.
Basically you don’t want anything that foams up or contains soap. All those things that make foam are usually drying as fuck (i.e. sodium laureth sulphate). Steer clear until summer.
4. SWAP YOUR TONER
If you use a toner you likely have something that contains alcohol or an astringent like witch hazel. These are useful as they tell your pores to chill the fuck out and take a backseat- aka your pores close up as your skin tightens. This is all good and well but if you are dealing with flaky-ass cheeks, (not flaky ass-cheeks, that’s something else altogether) you’ll want to lay off on the regular toning regime. In its stead you can mist some rosewater on your face before applying moisturizer. Rosewater is gentle, moisturizing and naturally smells like heaven on earth.
5. DRINK WATER
Duh. We all know this one. It’s annoying as fuck. I hate it when people tell me to drink more water. Yah yah I know. And go to the gym. And quit eating dairy. And join a celiac club. And stretch in the morning. And be all positive and shit.
Go fuck yourself.
BUT, it’s a real thing. If you want to go to bed without feeling like you could manically itch your eczema patches into raw burning holes of frustration, you just gotta guzzle that H 2 the 0. The trick is to make drinking water more fun and tasty delicious. I fill up a giant jar, thermos or tea pot with hot water, lemon and honey. It tastes divine and it’s alkalizing and the honey is antibacterial. Win win.
Some asshole might tell you that it’s not actually all that healthy to have a tablespoon of honey in your giant lemon water and that pure water is better cuz honey is basically sugar and blah blah blah, preach preach preach. Tell that little fuckwit to kick sand and go hand out their “You’ll Never Actually Be Good at Life” pamphlets somewhere else.
It’s all about doing your best. If you end up getting your full intake of water everyday and somehow eat a small hive of honey in the process, so be it. It’s winter. You don’t like my water drinking program, you can go suck a bag of dicks. I'll be over here actually loving my imperfect life, thanks.
6. ALWAYS OIL UP IN THE BATH
Hot water is extremely drying for your skin. Not only does it pull the natural oils from your skin while you're in the tub but when you get out, the lack of an oil barrier means your precious moisture will immediately evaporate and you’re left all crusty and pursed.
What a crock of shit. The very time that you need a long soak in water hot enough to boil potatoes is exactly when you’re not supposed to cuz it’ll make your skin all “Aaaaaaaaauuuuuuuugggghhhh!!!”.
Thankfully you don’t have to give up baths. Thankfully because I would just never get out of bed from November to March if that were the case.
Just oil up your body parts before you get in the tub or add a bath melt. Some of the oils will dissipate in the tub but the majority will stay on your skin if you apply directly to your skin’s surface. The hot water will open your pores and actually help the oil penetrate deeper. Also, if you apply directly to your skin you’ll be left with less of a slip-n-slide bathtub post soak.
Always PAT dry to keep the oils intact. Then apply a moisturizer too if you’re a gross alligator like me.
7. COP YOURSELF A HUMIDIFIER
You thought they were just for when you got bronchitis as a small child didn’t you? Think again!
Humidifiers are fabulous gadgets to have around the house in the winter. Indoor heat is impossibly drying for your skin, hair and inside your nose and throat (eugh). Humidifiers are your weapons against the evils of electric heat.
I know I know, when I think humidifier I imagine a gargantuan eyesore killing the vibe of any room with it’s globular, plastic, 1980‘s technology weirdness. But such is not the case anymore. You can buy slick little guys now that just hook up to a water bottle. Or better yet, get an aromatherapy diffuser. They double up as humidifiers with or without oils in them. Put yours beside your bed and get lulled to sleep with chamomile and lavender essential oils while moisturizing your freakin face. Easiest facial ever.
The cold winter months and harsh winds can encourage your skin to build up a barrier of dead skin cells, causing that dreaded scaly skin look. Assholes. As much as we may appreciate what our body is trying to do, we have modern practices that may be more effective than building up dead skin armour.
Exfoliating will gently slough off those extra layers and reveal your nice, new fresh skin underneath. Just be sure to nourish and protect your sweet, virginal skin before you expose it to the elements.
When exfoliating, try to avoid aggressive scrubbing. This will cause further irritation and result in drier, flakier, red, itchy skin. Counter productive as fuck.
Avoid apricot pits and ground nut shells. When ground up they become jagged little micro daggers that actually slash up your skin with little microscopic cuts. Then your skin needs to heal from all the damage and you can end up with acne and uneven skin tone. Not awesome.
Instead, try a ground coffee and sugar scrub for your body when you’re in the shower. Give a soft toothbrush a gentle scrub on your lips to relieve the chap. And only exfoliate your tender facial skin with soft microbeads (jojoba or olive oil), rice powder or choose an alpha hydroxy acid or beta hydroxy acid exfoliant - those guys eat up dead skin cells and also offer anti-aging and pore-clearing benefits. Also, don’t exfoliate more than every 2-3 days or you run the risk of over processing and irritating your skin.
9. BLAST COLD WATER AT THE END OF YOUR SHOWER
I know it sounds insane but it’s a miracle worker. If you can bare it, right at the end of your shower, turn the heat way down and give your self a rude awakening. The cold water will close all your pores and drastically minimize moisture loss.
If you simply can’t handle the cold (I’m a coldness coward, so I get it) then just douse your hair. Your body will need to be heavily moisturized but your hair will gain the benefit of the cold blast. Shiny Vidal Sassoon hair tosses all over the joint.
10. ADORN A MOISTURIZING FACE MASK
Treating yourself to a face masque once a week any time of the year is a fabulous practice for ultimate skin health. In the dry, frigid winter, swap out the usual clarifying masque for a moisturizing homemade or rhassoul clay application.
Give a yogurt and honey masque a shot if you’re happy to make something from the kitchen. 2 tbsp yogurt + 1 tbsp honey and you’re off to the races.
Alternatively, if you’d rather the vegan route or you’re just not a fan of food on your face, rhassoul clay from the Moroccan Atlas mountains is fabulous for increased circulation and improved moisture retention. Check your natural skin store, boutique skin shop, health food store or surf the web for suppliers.
Winter isn't so bad once you have the tools to combat its futile attacks. Get moisturized and humidify to your heart's content. Happy conditioning.
Also, get some fucking sleep. Seriously. Go to bed. Stop looking at your phone. Close your eyes. Sleeeeeeep, precious. Your skin will thank you.