In Winter our skin can suffer from dual exposure to the weather and central heating. Low humidity outside and in, cold winds and harsh atmospheric conditions affect the way our skin’s outer layer retains moisture, causing dryness, sensitivity, tightness and flaking.
Our face and hands are generally worst affected as these are exposed to the elements so frequently. Chapped lips, dry skin, cracks between the fingers and sore, red patches around the nose are all common.
If you live in the UK you can’t avoid Winter altogether but there are natural, inexpensive ways to keep your skin looking and feeling good until the welcome arrival of Spring.
Skin-savers for the face
Employ your usual skin care regime but use products as natural as possible or make your own, some examples are given below. Using emollient, soothing botanic products on your skin every day will condition your skin and keep it supple and moisturised.
Keep things simple and avoid harsh chemicals which strip the natural oils of the skin and will further irritate any sensitive patches. Floral waters such as Rose, Chamomile and Neroli for example make fantastic toners. A simple day cream and a luxurious facial oil at night will keep your skin happy.
Aromatherapy Facial Oil
30ml Argan Oil
9 drops total of Organic Essential Oil.
- Put the oil into a dark glass dropper bottle, add your chosen essential oil blend or keep it un-fragranced if your skin is particularly sensitive.
- Shake the bottle and keep in a cool place.
- Apply a few drops of the blended oil each night, massaging gently into the skin with the finger tips to stimulate the circulation and the elimination of toxins.
Example therapeutic Aromatherapy blends for dry skin:
Rose Otto (3), Palmarosa (2), Jasmine (1), Sandalwood (3)
Neroli (3), Geranium (2), Lavender (2), Frankincense (2)
Botanic Gel for Irritated Skin
60ml Aloe Vera Gel
20ml Chamomile Hydrolat
20ml Calendula Oil
Slowly add the oil and then the water to the gel, stirring until you have a good consistency. Spoon the gel into a clean jar and keep in a cool place.
This gel can be used on sensitive or sore areas such as around the eyes and nose.
Use a natural beeswax based lip balm (the hand salve recipe below can be used as a soft lip balm). Commercial balms generally contain a lot of synthetic ingredients that actually ultimately dry the area they are applied to after providing an initial hit of moisture. This is why they feel so “addictive” and need to be re-applied so often. If your lips get flaky, try rubbing over them gently with a dry tooth brush or exfoliating with a little golden caster sugar or ground almonds mixed with a little honey and patting clean every few days before applying lip balm.
Hard working Hands
Our poor hands often get neglected despite all they do! Using a botanic salve is the best way to keep the skin on your hands soft and supple and to protect the skin. Salves are a super effective and efficient way to moisturise the hands. You only need a tiny dab on a regular basis, and if your hands are really dry or cracked you can apply a thin layer of salve before bedtime, cover your hands with a pair of thin cotton gloves and have a treatment whilst you sleep.
Botanic Hand & Nail Salve
- 80ml Sweet Almond Oil
- 10g Shea Butter
- 20g Beeswax
- Essential Oils of Lemon (10 drops), Geranium (5 drops), Lavender (10 drops)
- Melt the first three ingredients over a gentle heat in a jug using the ban-marie method.
- When you all the ingredients have melted and combined take off the heat and allow the liquid balm to cool a little.
- Add the essential oils drop by drop and mix well.
- Pour the balm into a clean jar and allow to solidify.
- When your balm is ready simply use a dab to rub into the hands, nails and cuticles.
You can play with and combine ingredients according to your needs. I use Hemp oil for really dry skin, Calendula oil to heal cuts and scratches, Rosehip oil for scars for example. Tea Tree essential oil could be used to make an anti-bacterial balm, Benzoin for chapped skin, Chamomile for sensitive or irritated skin
Feed your skin
Including foods rich in Essential Fatty Acids is crucial to good skin health all year round, and especially important in the Winter. Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, nuts such as walnuts and brazils, seeds such as flax, hemp and sunflower, and fruits such as avocados and berries all contain high levels of good Omega fats that help regulate moisture levels within the cells, prevent inflammation and promote optimum skin function. Taking EFA supplements such as Evening Primrose or Borage is worth considering if you suffer generally from dry skin or a skin condition.
Natural cold pressed EFA rich oils can be taken internally – on the spoon or drizzled over food – or used in small amounts topically on the skin. You can pierce an Evening Primrose capsule and use the oil inside as a night oil for the face or on dry, red patches of skin.
Keep your body hydrated by drinking plenty of warm liquids such as soups, water with lemon, herbal tea and mulled apple juice, avoiding too much caffeinated tea and coffee which act as diuretics.
Kitchen cupboard ingredients can also be included in gentle scrubs and moisturising masks. Honey is a renowned humectant and can be used on its own as a mask to soften the skin, oats can be mixed with your cleanser once a week to gently exfoliate and encourage healthy skin renewal. You can combine mashed avocado, banana and papaya to make a truly amazing skin-plumping face mask.