Spring may be right around the corner, but for many of us a quick stroll to the mailbox can make it still seem very far away indeed. It’s clear that wintery raw weather isn’t quite done with us yet. And that means the threat of dry, sore, chapped skin isn’t going anywhere either.
But you can outsmart those winter skin woes in a few simple steps. Get ready to say goodbye to your sore chapped skin once and for all.
1. Moisturize (again and again):
Regular moisturizing is, hands down, both the easiest and most effective step you can take to prevent and soothe sore chapped skin. And sure, while it seems like an obvious solution it’s also the most often overlooked.
No matter whether it’s coconut oil or a paraben-free lotion commit to slathering your favorite moisturizer on at least three times a day (the more often the better):
- All over when you get out of the shower in the morning
- All over before you go to bed at night
- Hands and face every time you stop to wash your hands
Your painfully dry skin will instantly feel smoother and more comfortable as it starts to heal. And making moisturizing a part of your daily routine will keep the chapped skin from returning for an encore performance.
2. Baby your hands:
Soap and water can be incredibly drying and since your hands are exposed to both several times a day you need to take steps to protect them, especially during the old weather months. Start by choosing a mild soap or soap-free cleanser, for your bathrooms and kitchen. Or you can make your own by mixing a few simple ingredients together in a soap dispenser:
- 12 ounces distilled water
- 2 tablespoons liquid castile soap
- 1/2 a teaspoon of almond or olive oil
- A couple of drops of your favorite essential oil
Always use lukewarm water, never hot, to wash your hands. Skip hot air dryers in public bathrooms. Wear gloves whenever you’re outside in the cooler months. And don’t forget to moisturize!
3. Baby your body:
Your whole body, not just your hands, suffers during the winter months so be sure to baby the rest of it too. Seek out soap-free, natural, skin-friendly cleansers. Opt for lukewarm water, because while hot water may feel good in the moment it will just dry out your skin even more. When you step out of the shower pat, don’t rub, your skin dry. And then… repeat it with me… moisturize.
4. Use a humidifier:
Winter air isn’t just cold, it’s dry too. Then, to make matters worse, when you heat your home you dry out the air even further. The result is an arid environment that inevitably leads to dry, chapped skin. The solution is to “moisturize” your air with a humidifier, which in turn will help moisturize your skin. Just be sure to follow the humidifier’s directions to the letter to avoid any potential mold problems.
5. Wear socks inside:
If you suffer from dry cracked heels in the winter you’re not alone. But there’s an easy solution to this common problem. Don’t just slip into slippers when you get home. Slippers leave your heels exposed to rubbing and chapping, so slide on some socks first. But before you do grab the moisturizer and smooth some over those rough heels.
If you don’t already exfoliate it’s time to start. No matter how often you moisturize the top layer of your skin will contain some dead, dry skin cells. As we age our bodies natural exfoliation process tends to slow down and the dead cells begin to build up. Regular exfoliation, once or twice a week, will get rid of the old cells leaving smooth glowing skin behind.
You can choose an exfoliating scrub from the store or make an easy version at home by combining sugar with olive oil until you have a grainy paste. Smooth over your arms and legs rubbing gently on any dry spots such as elbows, knees and feet. Rinse thoroughly and then, you guessed it, moisturize.
7. Try an overnight treatment.
To keep hands and feet soft and smooth all winter long—and all through sandal season, too!—try a once a week overnight moisturizing treatment. Choose a heavy-duty moisturizer. (We like lightly warmed coconut oil, but any thick lotion will do.) Right before bed apply a heavy layer of the moisturizer to your hands and feet and immediately cover them in socks and cotton gloves. When you wake up in the morning your skin will be super soft and smooth.
8. Take an oatmeal bath:
Oatmeal has natural anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties, making it a great choice for combating winter skin. You can add finely ground “colloidal” oatmeal directly to your warm (not hot) bath to moisturize and calm your dry, irritated skin. Or, if you prefer, put a fistful of dry oatmeal (not instant) into a clean sock, tie a knot in the end and toss it into your bath. After bathing be sure to slather on a layer of lotion to seal the moisture in.