Welcome to Winter, the season of perpetually dry skin. I always have trouble with dryness in both my hands and my face during the winter months. My hands get especially dry because of all of the added washing that comes along with germ season. My kids have both been sick a couple of times, as has my boyfriend and both of his kids. As for me? So far I’ve dodged the bullet, and a lot of that is attributed to quarantining my sick kiddos, cleaning everything they touch multiple times per day while they’re sick, and washing my hands constantly.
As for my face — I’ve learned something new. If you read my year-end posts, you may have heard me mention that I wanted to get my Holistic Nutrition Certification. Well friends, that is no longer just a dream! I have paid for the course, received the materials, and have dove in head first! One of the first things I’ve learned is the inner workings of the skin, which has led me to a new skin care routine based on the science of how the skin actually works.
The top layer of the skin (epidermis) is dead, and steadily falling off every day. It is made up of keratin, the same cells that comprise our hair and nails. The bottom layers of the skin are the living layers that are always busy generating new cells. The middle layer (dermis) is where our follicles and sweat glands live, and this is where sebum is produced.
Sebum mixes with sweat to form an acid mantle on the skin, which protects our skin from pathogens and environmental toxins. When sebum is depleted, our skin becomes both dry, and vulnerable to pathogens and other damage. It is important to make sure that our day-to-day routines are not depleting this vital element of our skin health.
One of the first things I found is that our daily bathing habits are a key source of sebum depletion. Soaps and detergents strip away sebum, and then we apply lotions to try to ease the dryness, which expose us to a wealth of toxins. A good way to stop this process is to stop soaping up in the shower. Wash the important areas well with soap — armpits and groin, for example — daily. But unless you’ve been doing something that has you dirty or covered in sweat, just rinse the skin with water everywhere else and only use soap maybe once per week. And, make sure it is a mild soap — I use goat milk soap from Bend Soap Company on Amazon.
I have seen a very noticeable difference in my face. I’ve begun doing yoga in the mornings a few days per week, and when I do this I don’t have as much time to get ready in the morning and have therefore been skipping out on the makeup (which in and of itself is counterproductive to skin care because it prevents the skin from breathing). I don’t wear makeup on weekends unless I’m going out for something special. So most days here lately I am makeup free.
What I have noticed is that the dryness in the skin on my face is completely gone. I have not needed to use my facial moisturizer at all in at least a couple of weeks, when normally I need it every day in the winter. At first I attributed this to the lack of makeup, but now I know that it is because of the soap. When I was wearing makeup, I had to scrub my face, twice, every night to get the makeup off. After my shower my face was so dry it almost hurt, so I had to use moisturizer.
I stopped using soap on my face because I had no makeup to scrub off. I’ll just wipe my face with warm water under the shower head. My skin is now soft, smooth, and more elastic than it ever was when I was wearing makeup, and therefore scrubbing with soap, regularly. My acne and complexion have also cleared quite a bit, although this may have just as much to do with cutting way back on the dairy recently as well.
So — limit soap use to allow sebum production to maximize. This will not only resolve dryness in the skin, but it also helps protect your skin against pathogens!
Something else you can do is dry brushing. This is good for stimulation of the lymphatic vessels as well, so it serves a dual purpose. Pick yourself up a good bath brush, preferably with a handle so you can reach your middle back. I found one at Target for $4.
Before your shower, start with your feet and softly brush up, in short strokes, towards your heart. When you reach your ribs, switch to your hands and, again, work your way up towards your heart. You’ll do your chest last, brushing again towards your heart.
To make this a spa treatment (once or twice a week), follow this with an Epsom salt bath — 1-2 cups of Epsom salt in hot bath water, plus about 10 drops of a lavender essential oil — for about 15 minutes. With dead skin cells removed, this will help your body to release toxins through the skin more efficiently. Follow this with a cool shower to close the pores.
Otherwise, take a hot shower afterwards, turning the water to cool at the end to cool the skin and close the pores. Once your skin is dry, you can also use an organic oil, like jojoba or coconut oil, to rub into your skin. This will help protect your skin without disrupting sebum production.
Do not use any lotions unless they are completely natural and unscented, like the goat milk lotion I use, also from Bend Soap Company, because standard lotions are filled with toxins and your skin is a very absorbent organ. In fact, it is the first point of contact for many of the toxins we are exposed to which end up causing us harm. That means our skin can also act as our first line of defense if we treat it right!
So to recap:
- Only use soap in target areas, like armpits and groin; rinse the rest of the skin with warm water only
- Dry brush often
- Follow hot showers with cool water to close pores
- Apply a safe skin care oil, like organic jojoba or coconut oil, after showers
- Avoid standard scented lotions
- Take Epsom salt baths, followed by a quick cool shower rinse, once or twice per week
I personally use jojoba oil on my skin after an Epsom salt bath. And I do really like the goat milk soap, which I use as a hand moisturizer since washing cannot be avoided for that part of my skin. You can get a package deal of three bars of soap plus a bottle of lotion for around $30 on Amazon:
If you try this out for a little while, please let me know how it’s working for you. I would love to hear from you!