Sunday, November 25, 2012

Winter Skin Fixes

It's the most wonderful time of the year....

Yeah, tell that to my skin, jerk. Granted, I prefer winter. Heat, sunlight, and dehydration are all major migraine triggers for me, so I'm on lock down all summer. I literally get reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder since I'm not really allowed outside. Also, if it's 20 degrees, I can layer. If it's 90 degrees, I can be buck naked and still uncomfortable.

But my skin hates winter. My skin is ├╝ber dry at the best of times, and when the temperature drops it gets downright reptilian. Even if your skin doesn't get as dry as mine, I'm sure it dries out a bit in winter. So read on.....

Choosing Soap

Bar soap is bad. If you have dry skin, chuck your bar soap immediately. See those cracks in your bar of soap? Yeah, that's going to happen to your skin. Liquid soap is always preferable for dry skin.

You want Sodium Laureth Sulfate. You must read your labels. As a sick person, I'm sure you already do this on your food, but you have to do it on your health and beauty aids as well. Most body washes contain Sodium Laurel Sulfate. It's cheaper and foamier and harsher than Laureth Sulfate. Those two little letters make a big difference. Laureth is a weaker detergent, and therefore less drying. If you're not scent triggered, I highly recommend Philosophy Body Wash. I have a dozen. But soap is soap. As long as its Laureth Sulfate, use whatever.

Be Gross, Don't Wash

Honestly, I really don't shower all that often. It takes a lot of spoons I don't have. I work at home, seldom leave the house, and my cats don't seem to mind.
But showering every day is actually pretty bad for dry skin in the winter. Even the most gentle soaps dry skin out, because while your removing dirt you're also removing the skins natural oils. So, limit your showers. If you still want or need to shower every day, lather up strategically. Seriously, how dirty do your elbows get?

Layer up

Once out of the shower, pile it on. Not clothes, but moisturizer. I put on two layers on my body, and at least three on my face. For my body, I use my practical good non scented moisturizer, then I add another layer of something that smells pretty (usually like baked goods!). If your only going to use a fragrance free, still use two layers. Especially if you aren't showering every day. It will keep your skin from drying out between moisturizing. Always, always, always put moisturizer on wet skin. It will lock in the water that's already on there. Don't really dry off after your shower, do a quick pat with a towel then start piling it on.

Here are some of my favorite dry skin products. I've spent 20 years testing moisturizers, so you can be sure these are the best of the best!

Trader Joe's Moisturizing Cream
If you live anywhere near a Trader Joe's, this is worth the drive. It's $3.49 a bottle, and easily the second best moisturizer ever.  (The best being the wildly expensive Biotone which I'll get to in a second). It's totally fragrance free, has no mineral oil, and is just a fantastic no frills body lotion.  Sadly, it cannot be purchased online, so the link above is to the Makeup Alley review page.  You'll see I'm not the only person crazy for this lotion!

Biotone Massage Cream
This is not made for a moisturizer, but works amazingly as one. It has to be ordered online, and it's pricey! But a little goes a long way, so it's worth the money. Make sure you read the descriptions, as some products will have fragrance.  If I didn't have my Trader Joe's, I'd still be using their Pure Touch Organics, which was my favorite. (When you go to the website, be sure to check out their massage oils, which also make great moisturizers, and their face muds are fantastic as well.)

Oil Cleansers
This I only recommend for those with extremely dry skin like mine, and frankly I'm experimenting with this concept right now. Two weeks in, and I'm very pleased so far.
I've use oil cleansers for years as makeup removers. But when I saw my skin starting to flake and crack as early as November, I thought maybe it was time to try them as a daily cleanser. It sounds counter intuitive to clean your face with oil, but it works. All oil cleansers contain a hefty dose of mineral oil, which is too large to penetrate your skin, so your face isn't going to become oily from using an oil cleanser. You apply the oil to dry skin, where it bonds with dirt. Then you add water, which removes the oil/dirt, but keeps all the good oils on your face. The first one to be sold commercially, my favorite Shu Uemura, was made to remove Elizabeth Taylor's makeup on the set of Cleopatra. That's should give you an idea of what this is capable of cleaning!
Sadly, the Shu Uemura is extremely expensive. Less expensive options are available from Josie Maran, DHC, and now even Sephora. I just got the Sephora oil cleanser and I am pretty impressed. It's a bit thinner than the Shu, so I mix in a tiny squirt of the Shu to improve the texture.

Hope In A Jar
Love. This. Stuff. My sister says giving someone Hope in a Jar is tantamount to giving them a vial of crack or a bag of heroin. You've given them a lifelong addiction! I've only met one person who actually didn't like Hope. There are two really cool things about Hope In A Jar. One, it comes in formulas for dry, normal and oily skin. Two, you can get a trial size of the original Hope for about $15, so you don't have to commit to a $38 jar of moisturizer right off the bat.
It moisturizes, it brightens, it improves skin's texture. And, totally fragrance free. Be warned, since there is no perfume it does not smell good. But the smell fades in about 15 seconds, and you get used to it.

Josie Maran Argan Balm
I just discovered this and I am picking out china with this product. I got a tiny tin in the Josie Maran Moroccan Bazaar sampler, which of you've never tried Argan oil I recommend picking up. It's a moisturizing balm. It must be meant for your body, as the full size comes in a very large tin, but I bought it for my face. It's creates a thin film to lock in gobs of moisturizer I just put on, and leaves my skin unbelievably soft. I reapply a couple times a day, whenever I'm feeling dry. You can even use this under liquid makeup, provided you use a very thin layer.

Smiths Rosebud Salve
I saved the best for last. This is a cult classic. I have been buying this since I had to take the train to Bigelow Apothecary in downtown Manhattan. It was worth the trip. Lucky you, it's now available for $6-7 in Sephora and in three flavors (original, minted and strawberry). It's meant for your lips, but I use this everywhere in the winter. My lips, my nose when it gets chapped, my cuticles, my elbows. I used it on my cracking, flaking forehead all last winter too. I have them stashed all over the place and keep one on me at all times. This will heal the most disastrously chapped skin in 24-48 hours. If you get nothing else I recommend here, get this one!

Get one, or get all, these will at least keep your skin nice during the cold months ahead.  Stay warm!