13 Natural Remedies For Dry Skin (and 5 Mistakes To Avoid)

Natural remedies for dry skin

 

Don’t you love it when your nose starts to peel, your knuckles become red and raw, and your legs get covered in white scales? Welcome to winter in Canada, folks. It always takes me a few weeks to move past the denial, but inevitably my itchy skin reminds me that I have to adjust my skincare routine. No matter where you are in the world (unless you’re somewhere like Ecuador), your skin will be affected, and there’s certain things you can do to make the adjustment much simpler.

5 Things To Do Before Using Body Butter

I know it’s tempting to view body butter as a miracle solution for dry skin, but there’s certain thing you should probably address first. Fixing or making these a part of your routine will reduce the need for buckets of moisturizer, and get you better results:

Eat More Good Fat

One of the most overlooked ways for improving dry skin, is changing what you eat.

All the cells in your body (including skin cells) have a cell membrane that is made up of essential fatty acids such as Omega-3 and Omega-6. A healthy cell membrane – one that gets enough good fats – will be better able to retain moisture. It will also be better able to serve its role as a gatekeeper, allowing in nutrients and keeping out waste products and harmful substances.

The bottom line: eat more good fats to help your skin retain moisture, avoid dryness and look amazing.

Try including more of the following:

  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Mackarel
  • Sardines
  • Chia seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Flax seeds or oil
  • Walnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews

Use A Humidifier

Invest in a humidifier to add more moisture to the air during the day, or especially while you sleep. I use a humidifier from Humio which runs for 8 hours, automatically turns off in the morning, has a compartment to add essential oils, and also serves as a pretty night light!

Have A Hot Shower…But Don’t Burn Yourself 

This one is a struggle for me, since all I want to do is linger under a hot shower for ages in the winter. However, long, hot showers strip away at our skin’s natural oil barrier and leave it dry, red and itchy.

While I understand the ritual of a hot shower in the winter is sacred, there’s some tips you can use to minimize skin damage:

  • Keep it short (under 10 minutes)
  • Use warm water instead of hot. Or hot instead of burning hot (yep, you know the difference)
  • Moisturize right afterwards to lock in moisture. The longer you wait to moisturize afterwards, the longer your skin will lose moisture.
  • Reserve soap for the bits that need it. Stick to water and no soap (or little soap) for the rest.

Exfoliate

You know that feeling when you keep rubbing on lip balm, but really you’re just moisturizing flaps of dead skin on your lips? The solution in that situation is removing all the dry, dead skin cells off your lips first, and then moisturizing the layer underneath. Similarly, when it comes to our skin we need to exfoliate in order to remove the dead skin cells that are blocking absorption. I know it can seem counterintuitive in in the dry weather, but don’t skip out on exfoliating in the winter. Remember that it promotes circulation and skin renewal, and you’ll absorb all creams and lotions much better.

Drink More Water

This one is simple enough – just do it.

Why I Don’t Use Most Moisturizers

It may come as little surprise, but I don’t use most big name brand moisturizers. You can find more details about my approach to using personal care products, but for the time being let’s take a look at the ingredient’s label for a popular lotion: Ultra Healing Extra-Dry Moisturizer by Jergens.

Water, glycerin, cetearyl alcohol, petrolatum, stearic acid, C12-15 alykyl benzoate, aluminum starch octenylsuccinate, dimethicone, laureth-3, ceteareth-20, DMDM hydantoin, allantoin, methylparaben, arginine, sodium hydroxide, propylparaben, carbomer, fragrance, panthenol, pentylene glycol, lecithin, alcohol, ascorbyl palmitate, tocopherol.

We absorb these chemicals into our bloodstream, and many of these synthetic chemicals have known side-effects. For example, fragrance is linked to skin irritation (1) and parabens are strongly linked to endocrine (hormone) disruption (2).

For example, some of the big brands I avoid are:
  • Jergens
  • Vaseline
  • St. Ives
  • Bed, Bath and Beyond
  • The Body Shop (really deceptive marketing, read the ingredients label on the inside!)

Natural Remedies For Dry Skin

There’s a ton of remedies and natural oils out there, but below are the remedies I can speak to from experience. You’ll also note that these are all 1-ingredient solutions; I like to keep things as simple as possible.

Face Masks

  • Raw Honey: simply apply a 1-2 teaspoons of raw honey on your face for 20-30 minutes, and then rinse it off.
  • Mashed avocado: take 1/2 of a ripe avocado, mash it up and apply like above with the raw honey. You can also mix it with the raw honey mentioned above.

Apply these face masks 1-2 times per week.

Facial Oils

When winter rolls around, I like to use a facial oil at nighttime. I know some people use them during the day, but I personally prefer to stick to a regular moisturizing cream during the daytime. You can experiment with the oils below to see what works well for you, but these are some of the best oils for relieving dry skin:

  • Jojoba oil (lightweight, general dry skin)
  • Grapeseed oil (lightweight, general dry skin)
  • Apricot kernel oil (very light)
  • Argan (expensive, but good)
  • Olive oil (for ultra-dry skin)

Facial Moisturizer

In case you were curious, these are some of my favourite brands when it comes to facial moisturizers. You can find more at health food stores or websites like well.ca

  • Sukin
  • Andalou
  • Green Beaver
  • Nature’s Gate
  • Derma-e

Body Moisturizer

Simply apply any of these oils all over your  body after a hot (not burning) shower, to lock in moisture.

  • Almond oil (personal favourite, since it doesn’t have much of a scent)
  • Sesame oil
  • Mustard seed oil (both mustard and sesame have warming properties, which is great for the winter)
  • Coconut oil (great if you have eczema or sensitive skin)

Hand + Foot Cream

  • Shea butter (unrefined) is magical! All you need is a small amount for your hands and feet. I apply it to the bottom of my feet to prevent and relieve cracked feet, and then wear light socks overnight.
  • Cacao butter can also be used in place of shea butter, but I prefer the latter as it’s less firm.

Sources:

(1) FRAGRANCE || Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database | EWG. (2018). Ewg.org. Retrieved 22 January 2018, from https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/702512/FRAGRANCE/#.WmZSrpM-dTY

(2) PROPYLPARABEN || Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database | EWG. (2018). Ewg.org. Retrieved 22 January 2018, from https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/705335/PROPYLPARABEN/#.WmZTMZM-dTY

 

 

 

About Alina

I'm a Holistic Nutritionist based in Toronto, Canada and my official title is Certified Nutritional Practitioner (CNP). I received my diploma in Applied Holistic Nutrition from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. I'm a coach and an educator. Follow Alina on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for all of the latest updates.
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