written by Raulla S. Mitchell
Everywhere I go, I hear women complaining about their dry skin. They pull out purse-size moisturizers to spread over their faces and hands, and it’s still dry. Sometimes what starts as a cosmetic issue quickly winds up to a deeper chronic issue such as itchiness, eczema, and other inflammatory conditions. We can probably each name several people we know and love with eczema in the winter, maybe including ourselves.
The reason why these skin irritations are so important to prevent is that our skin is the largest organ of our body, our first line of defense to prevent the entrance of toxins into our body. When skin is open and exposed to environmental and chemical toxins we encounter everyday, it’s more likely to allow these agents to pass into our body where they can do harm that is more than skin deep.
So what can we do? Time to get real with effective solutions.
As with most things, prevention is the best option. Then there’s the first ethical principle of medicine: Do no harm.
Yes, we’re told to wash our hands throughout the day to prevent the spread of viruses and illnesses that spiral during the winter months. This is essential. As we talked about in our earlier post about CLEANSING, the sulfate-free soap you choose is essential to protecting your skin, since it’s not an option to cease cleansing. See more about cleansing below.
Next, some of us use anti-bacterial lotions.
I’m not a fan of anti-bacterial soaps and lotions. They tend to contain harsh irritating ingredients, some which may be suspected of serious toxicity, and frankly, are not necessary. They do no better job at cleansing than products which are not classified as anti-bacterial. If you work in a medical environment, considerations may be different, but for most people, I don’t believe we need to expose our delicate skin to the elevated health risks of anti-bacterial cleansing products.
That said, I’m a big proponent of washing hands, but if your skin is super dry or you’ve noticed inflammatory patches, have you thought about what soap you’re using? Not all soaps are created equal.
You can use the best moisturizers on the planet, but if you’re using a harsh detergent-based soap (you’ll know if it foams abundantly – sulfate or detergent-based soaps tend to generate a lot of foam which is not at all indicative of its cleansing properties), you will most likely continue to suffer skin irritations.
Change to a sulfate-free soap with added natural oils, butters and botanicals, and I promise you’ll notice a difference.
Then, immediately after washing, apply a thick rich body butter (fragrance-free if you’re suffering any degree of inflammation) over slightly damp skin to protect, soothe, heal and nurture your skin. Do this EVERY TIME after you wash. Applying your body butter to slightly damp skin makes a remarkable difference, as opposed to applying it to dry skin. When applied to damp skin, your moisturizer will protect the natural moisture in your skin and your skin will be visibly and tangibly softer and plumper than if you simply applied it to dry skin. Try it. I promise you’ll notice the difference.
One big reason we make our travel mini body butters is so you can take them wherever you go – pop one in your purse, and re-apply after you wash your hands – every time. If you wait until you get home, your hands will be exposed to cold, dryness, wind, and other environmental irritants. Again, we’re big on prevention, because we know it works.
A good body moisturizer (lotion, creme or body butter) will:
- lock in skin’s natural moisture, keeping it soft and supple
- protect it from dryness, topical irritants and inflammatory agents
- Moisturized skin feels and appears healthier, younger, softer and smoother
- moisturized skin will optimally intensify and retain fragrance
Insofar as skin is the largest organ (the integumentary system) of our body, it’s serves as a serious protective barrier against external toxins and irritants. Topical moisturizers help to support our skin’s health, so that along with healthy lifestyle (diet, exercise, vitamins, stress management, sleep, water, and balanced mind, body and spirit), our skin can protect our overall health.
WHEN SHOULD I MOISTURIZE?
- Generally massage in your favorite lotion, creme or body butter while your skin is still moist or damp from your bath or shower. This will more effectively lock in natural moisture and prevent dryness than applying moisturizer to dry skin.
- The purpose of a moisturizer is to lock in water as a natural hydrator, so when you apply your moisturizer to slightly moist skin, you’re forming a barrier to protect your skin’s natural hydration system.
- Moisturizer applied to dry skin might temporarily make it feel softer, but it’s not doing what it’s supposed to. Your skin will likely feel very dry soon.
- We want you to apply your moisturizers so that can do their absolute best for your skin as they are formulated to do. Over the years, we’ve learned that effective results depend not only on the product formulation, but on the way in which it is applied, how often, and with regularity. Why waste your time and money by doing anything less?
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I MOISTURIZE?
- Apply an overall body moisturizer after EVERY bath or shower.
- You may choose to layer a creme and/or body butter over a lighter lotion, particularly on the driest areas of your body such as neck, decollete, shoulders, elbows, hands and feet. Play with mixing and matching fragrance blends to create your own customized signature blend!
- If your skin is particularly dry; it’s a dry cold winter, or a hot summer with too much time spent having fun in the sun, try applying a rich body butter all over, and you’ll feel your skin sighing ahhhhh…. merci bien.
- After applying an uber-rich all over body butter for several days, listen to your skin by observing its tangible and visual texture. If you think it might now benefit from a lighter lotion or creme, try it. You can always return to your body butter if you discover that’s what your skin craves.
- We’re convinced that most often, your skin will tell you exactly what it needs when you learn how to listen to it.
WHEN WILL I NOTICE RESULTS?
- Immediately. Your skin will feel and look softer, smoother and more radiant after applying an overall body moisturizer.
- With the topical application of regular moisturizing treatments, you’ll notice and feel that your skin is its healthiest ever – soft, smooth, radiant, and fragrance will last immeasurably longer on skin that’s healthy and moist.
- The key is regular TLC. Please do not use the best moisturizer ever once or twice, notice how amazing your skin looks and feels, and think it’s okay to forget about your skin for a few days. Your skin is a demanding creature. It lives and breathes everyday, and just like you need to eat and drink daily, so does your skin to feel and look its heathy best. Treated with simple regular TLC, your skin will reward you with a beautiful appearance and good health for years.
One thing about fragrance applied to dry skin in the winter. It may smell wonderful initially, but it will quickly dissipate. On the contrary, fragrance applied to well moisturized healthy skin will retain its intensity for much longer.
I tell people this all the time, and yet, not long ago when I was in London at a beautiful fragrance shop (okay, I’ll fess up, it was Jo Malone’s shop in Windsor), I automatically reached for a perfume bottle without first applying a nearby lotion or creme. The sales associate (a wonderful one, I might add) quickly approached me and said “Ma’am, please apply a creme before you apply the fragrance. Your skin will retain the fragrance this way.” I had to laugh, because she was absolutely right, and reminded me of what I always try to tell people! Sometimes we all need a little right back at you, don’t we?
And, one more thing: when you layer fragrance in your sugar scrub, moisturizer and fragrance, you’ll notice just a remarkable difference in intensity and duration of your fragrance.
It’s so easy to be creative when you layer, or mix and match complementary fragrance blends to create your own signature blend. Why would you want to settle for anything less?
Wishing you happy, healthy gorgeous skin all winter! xo