Each season brings with it a different set of challenges and one of the biggest questions I get from folks during the wintertime is how to take care of and deeply nourish dry skin & hands and parched lips. During this time of year our skin is exposed to lots of stressors like forced heat and woodstoves which dry the air and can impact our skin, hair and lips.
I recently watched a really interesting You Tube video by a hairstylist in Italy (who I follow on Instagram and is just an awesomely inspiring woman!) and she suggested using different shampoos and conditioners during each season because the needs of our hair change based on the season. Um. Hello. I don’t know why this was so transformative for me and you know how sometimes you hear/read the right thing at the right time……this must have been right timing because it just totally clicked. There are SO many other aspects of my life that align with the seasons but the seasonal needs of my hair is not something I have ever thought about (if you know me and my unruly mob of hair, you won’t be surprised in the least!). I have my shampoo; my hair oil, my vinegar rinse and my herbal hair rinse and use those year round. After listening to this I purchased some new shampoo and actually invested in a deeply nourishing conditioner and after 3 uses so far I can actually feel a difference. Look for natural plant-based products that contain herbs like horsetail, nettle, lavender, chamomile, rosemary and nourishing + hydrating oils like sunflower, avocado, jojoba and argan.
Caring for dry skin is hard but not impossible. As with most skin conditions treatment begins from the inside. If you’re like me your water intake during the winter declines a bit so being aware of water intake and staying hydrated is definitely step 1. Step 2 involves identifying the sources of dryness in your life. These include heat sources (as talked about above) but also what we put in our bodies: alcohol, spicy foods, eating lots of dried or salty foods. All of these things just increase our internal dryness during times of external dryness. Identifying our skins stressors and addressing them is really important in addressing underlying causes. The third step is either investing in or taking time to create really hydrating lotions, potions + conditioners that nourish the skin, hair and lips to replenish what’s being lost, heal and soothe damaged tissues.
I actually (and maybe surprisingly) chose to invest in a conditioner that I use 2-3 times a week and create a lotion base that feeds my skin. I naturally have very dry skin in certain areas that definitely gets more pronounced during the winter. I find that our Mystic Moon is a really great all around skin food. I use it on my face (after cleansing) at night and sometimes apply it to my upper arms and legs too (my driest areas). The ingredients to look for that provide this ultra moisturizing aspect are shea butter, cocoa butter, jojoba oil, avocado oil, argan oil, apricot oil and lanolin. Lanolin is the only one in the lineup that is not plant derived. Lanolin comes from sheep wool. It’s a wax that’s secreted by critters that make wool and is composed of sterol esters that make it a really powerful waterproofing agent (which is why wool is so awesome in rainy conditions and why it wicks so well as a baselayer). Lanolin helps protect the skin from environmental stresses and retain natural moisture. I have really vivid memories from childhood of my Mom slathering Bag Balm on her feet during the winter then pulling on her warm + toasty wool socks to replenish and restore her dry skin and cracked heels. It's definitely an acquired smell, but I have to say I really love the aroma of lanolin!!! It's dank and earthy and I like it a lot!
Shea butter is the fat that’s extracted from Vitellaria paradoxa and is composed primarily of stearic and oleic acids. It’s commonly used in cosmetics, perfumery and chocolatiers. It is super duper moisturizing and known for it’s fast absorption into the skin making it ideal for dry and brittle hair and dry skin. I love shea butter. If you’re going to use it or mix it into your own formulations find a good quality one that is fair trade or organic. My current favorite is from Inesscents and is fair trade, whips into a creamy dreamy fluffy butter and is fairly neutral in scent making it easy to add your favorite healing essential oils to.
Lotions are created by mixing a combination of oils, butters and beeswax with a liquid component (either distilled water or floral hydrosols). They are a unique combination of oil, fat and water. I enjoy using lotions in the morning and thicker more deeply penetrating butters at night. I'll be posting a recipe in a couple weeks, after a bit more testing, for a lotion that is pretty easy to make and easily adaptable based on what raw ingredients and herbs you have available.
You can mix different healing oils, butters and essential oils together to customize your blends to fit your own unique skin care needs. I personally love adding lavender, palmarosa, rose and patchouli to my body butters for their healing and nourishing properties but everyone is attracted to different scents and we each have different needs. Have fun researching essential oils and blends that can support your own personal skin care needs and creating your own nourishing oil or butter blends during this dry time, to moisturize and take care of your beautiful, radiant skin!! And remember that our skin is often a reflection of our internal environment, so looking at our diets and lifestyle are often a large component to addressing our skin health!