Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tip Tuesday: Winter Skincare, Body Edition

Okay, I know, it's been months since I've done one of these, and for that, I apologize. If you're new to Tip Tuesdays, see here for a summary!

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, where it tends to rain most of the time between November and April, so I didn't really have any experience with dry skin due to weather until I went to college in Pennsylvania. I was rather annoyed by the changes in my skin (though I did appreciate the whole sunshine-during-winter concept), and spent much time over those 4 years figuring out how to best battle itchy, dry, flaky skin, which I will happily share with you now! There are a lot of things you can do to treat (and prevent!) dry skin. One big thing is not showering (or bathing) in hot water, as it dries out already-parched skin, but as someone who cannot fathom taking a lukewarm shower when it's cold out, I don't actually offer this as a realistic recommendation.
image via Drugstore.com
Instead, be sure to use a moisturizing body wash or cream in the shower to help offset the drying effects of the hot water (opaque products, those with "oil" or "cream" in the name, work best on dry skin; I've used Dove Cream Oil Body Wash, which has both those terms in it, and it worked extremely well at preventing my skin from drying out during the arid East Coast winters).

image via Amazon
For maximum absorption, exfoliate your skin beforehand (or during!); bath poufs, loofahs, washcloths, and Salux cloths (my favorite! available for ~$6 on Amazon and eBay) all help remove dead skin and improve the moisturizing impact of your body wash of choice. Post-shower, pat your skin dry, but while it's still a little moist, apply your lotion/body butter/oil to seal in the moisture. This works best if you do it immediately after showering, while you're still in the bathroom with the humid air. Just be sure to let it absorb before putting clothes on!

image via Amazon
Heaters are just terrible on your skin, but again, I'm not about to suggest you not heat your house (since, well, the cold is also terrible on your skin, so you might as well be comfortable). Humidifiers are a good choice, and if you don't want to pay for one, you can use the trick my mother taught me: Put some water in your water boiler/kettle and leave the lid off. That way, the water still boils, but the kettle doesn't turn off (since the pressure doesn't build, it doesn't know the water's boiling), and the steam escapes into the room, acting as a makeshift humidifier. This works best in smaller spaces (like a dorm room, for example), but if you have a room or two that you spend most of your time in, it's a quick, easy, cheap way of helping add some moisture.

Some more obvious pointers: bundle up before you go out into the cold, be sure to drink plenty of fluids, and consider relocating to somewhere tropical during the colder months. I know, I'm so helpful.

This particular TT will not be accompanied by a corresponding RT (Recommendation Thursday, for those not "in the know"), just because it proved to be nearly impossible to sift through the literally hundreds of options for body moisturizers/butters/lotions/gels/oils. I will say that the drugstore has some really awesome choices, so if you suffer from dry skin, don't feel like you have to go high-end to get good moisturizing results. Makeup Alley is an excellent resource! My mother suffers from dry skin and uses Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Skin Therapy Lotion with Aloe and loves it, but Jergens, Eucerin, and Vaseline are all good reliable choices. I tend to wear lotion for the smell, not the moisture, and for that purpose I find body butters to be the best bet, but the specific product you choose really a matter of personal preference and needs. For shower products, the Dove I mentioned above is a good option (and I picked it because it had gotten such good reviews), but Olay, Aveeno, Nivea, and St. Ives (especially their Oatmeal & Shea Butter body wash, which is absurdly cheap) are all reliable choices.

What about you? What tips and tricks do you have for staying itch-free in the winter? Any favorite products?
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