You go through gallons of moisturizer, only to start over every day. What are you supposed to do? If the lotion doesn’t work, what does? You can’t very well site in a tub all day. I mean you do have to work - if for no other reason than to pay for more lotion!
Lotion only gets you so far. First of all, if you aren’t using a safer or natural body moisturizer, you are likely loading yourself up with unhealthy chemicals and hormone disruptors. While this may seem insignificant, remember your skin is your biggest organ and absorbs 50-90% of what you apply to it (depending on the area of the body). Some chemicals in moisturizers even have a long term drying effect! Not OK.
If you truly want soft, moisturized skin all winter long, I’ve got you.
The BEST way to exfoliate your skin
The one KEY ingredient to soft skin all year
A simple skincare routine to keep cracks, and scales at bay
Links to my favorite products
One reason lotion is not as effective for dry skin is the build up of dead cells. If you apply lotion on top of super dry, cracked skin, it can barely penetrate the rough top layer. It is much more effective to apply moisturizer to warm, damp skin that has been exfoliated. Think, right after you get out of the shower.
But I’m not here to talk about a sugar scrub. Though if you do want to try one, Beauty counter has a delightful Lemongrass Sugar Scrub.
The absolute best way to exfoliate your skin is to follow a technique called Dry Brushing. This is a simple process that involves taking a specific body brush (like this one) and literally brushing your skin before showering. The video and description below describe the exact process.
Remove dead skin cells
Reduce appearance of cellulite (speculative)
Stimulate lymph system and drainage
Aide in body’s natural detoxification process
Unclog pores and help with body acne
Improve skin texture/”glow”
Sound wonderful? That’s because it is! Whenever I find my skin getting too dry, I pull out my dry brush. It only takes 2-3 days before I notice significant improvement in my skin texture. When I do it regularly, my skin feels soft and absorbs moisturizer with ease.
Dry brushing is great on its own, but it can be harsh on your skin in the winter, especially if you have a lot of Vata in your Dosha (read more about that here). To balance dry brushing, I always recommend following it with Oil Massage (Abhyanga), a traditional Ayurvedic self-massage method. Oil massage uses a neutral oil such as Sesame or a Vata specific oil like this or this.
Stimulate cell rejuvenation in body
Moisturize and protect skin
Calm the nervous system
Promote restful sleep (if done before bed)
Dry Brush (3-5 minutes)
Oil Massage (3-5 minutes)
Jump in hot shower. Wash important parts - it is not necessary to soap your entire body every day. When healing dry skin, it is important to reduce the use of soap, especially if it has harsh chemicals. Use a gentle, safe or natural soap for the stinky parts of your body.
The steam of the shower will open your pores and allow the oil to seep deep. Excess oil will rinse off.
Get out of the shower and pat dry with an old towel. Your skin will have a hint of oil left - this is a protective barrier. Once you air dry and most excess oil is absorbed, you can get dressed.
If your skin is really bad, use this combo daily for 5-7 days. Then you can do it a few times a week, or as often as you wish.
This process doesn’t add much additional time to your shower routine. You do the “work” upfront before showering. You save time by not soaping your entire body and not applying moisturizer after the shower. You get the added bonus of self-care. Tending to your body in this way calms heals you from the inside-out. Your nervous system can relax and you can spend a few extra minutes of “me time” before greeting the day or going to bed.
Starting at the feet, make medium upward strokes along your limbs. When you get to a joint, make small circular motions with the brush.
Always move toward the heart.
At belly go from lower right, up and over to lower left. If you look down and see your stomach as a clock with 12 below your belly, brush clockwise from 12 - 6, then 6-11. This stimulates digestion.
Brush up your sides and lower back toward heart.
Brush under your breasts toward and into underarms. It’s crucial to brush under breasts and underarms because these are dense lymph node areas.
Brush down sides of neck (do not brush front of neck).
Brush from upper back downward.
For oil massage, follow the same body flow, but use medium pressure to work the oil into your muscle. It feels so good!
Avoid dry brushing during these times because you body is already going through a natural detox and clearing process - you don't need to do more.
When on your period
When sick or when you feel a cold coming on
When suffering from severe constipation or diarrhea
Once you have your skin back on track, you will be motivated to keep it healthy and moisturized. As we already discussed, your drugstore scented lotion will not do the trick. It will likely clog your pores and junk up your skin. Ditch that immediately.
Sometimes you don’t have time to dry brush and oil massage. Or you may want to do that combo in the morning and apply regular moisturizer at night (or vice versa).
Take a Bath. Take an Epsom Salt and Essential Oil bath. Afterward, apply lotion to warm, damp skin. (Highly recommended!)
Sauna or Steam Room. If you can find somewhere with both, alternate between the two and take a cold plunge or shower in between.
Hot Springs. A perfect way to warm up, spend time in nature and take care of your skin. The steam, heat and natural minerals help your skin recover from the dry winter.
Don’t forget, after you finish the bath/sauna/hot spring session, be sure to apply lotion or oil to seal in the moisture!
Primally Pure Body Butter. This is an amazing, deeply moisturizing tallow-based product. Primally Pure uses essential oils to mask the natural tallow scent, leaving you with a delicious smelling and effective moisturizer. I like to use this in the winter before bed. I wake up feeling extra smooth. (Use code ALIGNFUL10 for 10% off your first order).
Primally Pure Body Oil. While I wouldn’t use this before your shower, I would recommend applying it after a shower or as a “touch up” moisturizer. This “dry oil” is designed specifically so that it does not leave an oily residue on your skin. A little bit goes a long way too! I like to apply it to freshly shaved legs, cuticles and my chest. The smell is divine and can replace your perfume for the day. (Use code ALIGNFUL10 for 10% off your first order).
Beautycounter Body Butter. Again, I would use this at night as it’s a thick, dense moisturizer. It is more traditional than the Primally Pure body butter. If you aren’t comfortable with tallow products (or are vegetarian), this is a great option. The smell is light and won’t overwhelm you as you fall to sleep.
Beautycounter Citrus Mimosa Hydrating Body Lotion. This is a very light weight, everyday moisturizer. I prefer to use it in warmer months, when my skin is not so dry. It goes on easily and absorbs almost immediately.
Soaps. Traditional soaps are full of harsh chemicals that strip oils from your skin, causing dry skin OR causing your skin to over produce oil. Switching to a natural soap and using it less often will help you skin repair itself naturally. I like the Beautycounter Bar, the Primally Pure Baby Bar and good ole Dr. Bronners.
Remember, approaching dry skin from the outside is only one part of the equation. In order to maintain healthy, moisturized skin, you have to feed yourself the right foods and drink water!
Lemon water. Instead of a small cup of lemon water, I go for 24 ounces of warm lemon water each morning with a pinch of Real sea salt. This is a great way to get a lot of water in early and prepare my system for a healthy day.
Celery Juice. This is super hydrating and has many properties that help your skin. If you are curious to learn more, check out Medical Medium. I have 12-16 oz every morning.
Fats. Not only is it helpful to put oils ON your body, but it’s also important to consume them in the winter. Adding olive oil, butter, coconut oil, coconut butter, ghee, nuts/seeds not only tastes good, but helps your body maintain its moisture.
Tea. When it gets cold out, I find it more difficult to drink plain water. Instead, I keep a steady flow of herbal teas flowing throughout the day to stay hydrated. Just like the lemon water, I brew a 24 oz jar of tea instead of a typical 8-10 oz cup.
Citrus. Oranges, lemons and grapefruit are full of Vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant for your skin. They are bright, fresh and provide water too. It’s no surprise that these delights are in season during winter months.
Collagen. I add collagen and coconut butter to my morning coffee and evening Golden Milk. Collagen supports skin elasticity, gut health and hair and nails.
If you do nothing else, the simple duo will do wonders for your winter skin. You can slowly start to experiment with the other products to support long term skin health. Don’t forget to stay hydrated and take care of your body with movement and appreciation.
Happy Winter! Wishing you smooth and soft skin.