When we talk about winter skincare, the focus is almost always on the skin above the neck, and for reasons that are easily understandable — navigating the endless maze of how to keep your skin glowing and supple when it is frigid outside for months on end is exhausting. But this focus on your complexion can lend itself to neglecting the skin on the rest of your body.
If you’re struggling with uneven tone, itchiness, bumps, flakes, or any other degree of unpleasantness with your skin here in the middle of winter, rest assured that treatment and relief are not only super simple — they’re inexpensive too.
Winter skin often leads to itchiness and irritation, which can be exacerbated with physical exfoliation. Milk contains lactic acid, an Alpha Hydroxy Acid commonly used in skincare as a way to gently loosen the bond between dead skin cells and healthy skin cells. Milk is also rich in Vitamins A, B, and D, which are all very beneficial to skin but most body skincare products are devoid of.
Combining a gallon of whole milk into a hot bath can help gently exfoliate, calm irritation, and fortify your skin against the harsh realities of winter. Step it up a notch by adding a few healthy squeezes of honey and a couple drops of lavender oil into your bath for extra anti-inflammatory benefits.
You’ve likely heard of the trend of dry brushing — it’s been hyped for a while for a long list of supposed benefits. We’re not here to tell you that dry-brushing is the Holy Grail in the eternal battle against cellulite, but its benefits really are notable when applied to winter skin.
Physical exfoliation of irritated skin is tricky; scrubbing at dry skin with sugar, salt, coffee, or other granular exfoliants can take inflammation to a whole new level. Sloughing away dead skin with either a soft bristle dry brush or Korean bath mitts can give you the satisfaction of a good deep scrub without added ingredients that might lend themselves to further irritation. Note that brushes need to be used on dry skin, and mitts should be used on wet skin before any soaps or cleansers are applied.
If you can’t seem to narrow in on a regimen that keeps your skin hydrated and calm, try stripping down to the bare minimum when it comes to the ingredients in your products. Instead of body creams and oils that are laced with silicons, fragrance, and alcohol, opt for singular ingredient products sourced from health food or natural grocery stores.
Pure shea butter is phenomenal moisturizer, as it is dense with cinnamic and linoleic acids — both of which aid in the retention of natural oils your skin produces to moisturize itself and are also highly anti-inflammatory. Seal in the benefits of shea butter by following with a layer of avocado or almond oil — both are full of vital fatty acids that hold moisture in your skin and encourage cells to turn over at an accelerated rate.
Manipulate Your Environment
You don’t have to live in the desert to benefit from the inclusion of a humidifier into your home. Constantly sitting in an interior filled with artificial heat is going to dry out your skin — even if you live in an otherwise humid environment.
Your body is 60% water, and your skin, your largest organ, has quite a bit of surface area that freely offers up this water to a dry environment or central heating. Your body depends on the moisture in the air to allow your stratum corneum, your uppermost layer of skin, to sustain healthy cells. By supplementing with a humidifier in your home, you can help your skin hang on to the moisture it’s creating naturally.
Focus on Your Diet
If topical solutions aren’t providing relief, the issue could be something internal. Sugar is easily one of the worst things you can put into your body (this should come as no surprise), but sugar is especially problematic for your skin. Sugar impedes your body’s ability to produce collagen, one of the most essential components of healthy hydrated skin.
Make a point to include a healthy fat into every meal (avocados, nuts, salmon, eggs, high quality olive oil, etc.) and up your intake of leafy greens that are dense in skin-loving vitamins like arugula and spinach. If you struggle to ingest enough healthy fats through your food alone, consider taking an Omega-3 fish oil supplement or a plant-based ALA (Alpha-lipoic Acid) like black currant seed oil.
As always, water is the most important thing you can put into your body. Make sure you’re taking in no less than three liters a day during the winter.