Natural Homemade Remedies for Dry Skin
You can stay out of the sun in summer, but there's no escaping freezing weather and central heating during the winter. They punish the skin, leaving it chapped, flaky and dry, which is unsightly, uncomfortable, and even painful. And the more severe the problem becomes, the more ineffectual regular skin care products seem. That's when you should consider homemade remedies; they often succeed where store-bought products fail.
All-Over Body Mask
If your skin is prone to dryness even at the best of times, you’re bound to suffer unmercifully during the cold season. Worst of all is the unbearable feeling of tautness, which may be accompanied by itching. Inevitably, scratching proves irresistible, which further exacerbates the problem.
To make skin supple again, try this wheat germ body mask:
Beat one egg yolk with three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, stir in half a cup of wheat germ oil, and add a couple of drops of essential oil of rose.
Spread the mixture over your whole body and allow to work for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse under a warm shower and pat gently with a towel—never rub flaky or irritated skin when drying.
The vinegar restores the skin’s pH balance, wheat germ oil is full of vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant that heals and repairs, and rose oil—apart from adding a summery aroma—is known for its valuable regenerative properties.
Tea for Thirsty Skin
This fragrant bath softens and soothes rough and sensitive skin, and is as easy to prepare as a hot cup of tea on a cold winter’s night.
Just throw a few bags of lavender, chamomile, or rose-hip tea into a warm tub and add a little evening primrose oil.
You can use ordinary teabags for this, but filter bags made especially for bathing are also available; look for products labeled "Tub Tea" or "Tub Bags".
Another option is reusable muslin teabags with a drawstring, which can be filled with any herb or flower you'd like your infusion or bath to be flavored with. Or, if you're particularly frugal, an old pantyhose would do the job, too.
Don't forget: To soothe and prevent dry skin, bath and shower in water that is comfortably warm but not hot. And to avoid the drying effect of soap-based products, use a soap-free body wash with a pH value of 5.5 (e.g., Sebamed).
Oatmeal is particularly beneficial for dry skin due to its anti-inflammatory properties, which relieve itching.
Pulverize in a food processor at least 100 grams (approx. 1 cup) of oatmeal and add to bath water—the oatmeal should be fine enough for the water to appear milky. This can be used alone or in combination with one of the above bath teas and a little evening primrose oil.
In order to retain the oatmeal's soothing effect, apply a rich, unscented body lotion while the skin is still moist.
Carrot Face Mask
To apply foundation flawlessly, the face must be well hydrated. But during the cold season, when skin is particularly dry and flaky, regular moisturizers often prove inadequate. This is when you need an additional product that not only hydrates, but repairs and brightens, too.
Try this carrot mask before applying makeup:
Blend to a paste three medium sized carrots, one egg yolk, and a tablespoon of wheat germ oil. To thicken the consistency, stir in a little pulverized oatmeal. Smooth over the face, neck, and cleavage, and rinse after 15 to 20 minutes. Apply moisturizer while the skin is still moist.
Oils for Dry Skin
Dry skin can be a year-round problem. Sun damage, allergies, or aging may be to blame. But whatever the cause, there’s an oil to help.The versatile remedies above use wheat germ and evening primrose oil, but these can be substituted for oils that address your skin problem specifically:
Hawaiian Kukui Nut Oil
Heals sun damaged skin.
Because it resembles the oils found in the skin, almond oil can help restore an impaired barrier function—this is particularly beneficial for mature skin.
Wheat Germ Oil
Rich in vitamin E. Ideal for weather-beaten skin.
Soothes rashes and inflammations, relieves itchiness, and regenerates. Jojoba oil is also non-comedogenic, meaning it can benefit acne prone skin, especially if it tends to dryness.
An excellent antioxidant. Because of its light texture, elderberry oil absorbs easily making it suitable for daytime wear in place of serum.
Sea Buckthorn Oil (also known as Sallow Thorn or Sandthorn Oil)
Rich in vitamin E and beta-Carotene (pro-vitamin A) and renowned for its anti-aging properties.
Musk Rose Oil
Has a smoothing effect and may help to diminish scars.
Evening Primrose Oil
Smooths and soothes rough and sensitive skin. Dermatologists prescribe evening primrose oil as a treatment for neurodermatitis.
Oil in Water Cleanser
If your face is dry and sensitive, you need a cleanser that is gentle, hydrating and capable of removing every trace of dirt and makeup. So-called oil in water cleansers do the job perfectly, but there’s no need to buy one.
For the same effect, massage your face with an oil from the above table, splash on some water, work into an emulsion, and rinse. Pat dry with a cosmetic tissue and spray with thermal water to clarify.
If clarifying with toner, make sure it's formulated for sensitive skin. Alcohol-based products have a drying effect.
Oil as a Pre-Shave Treatment
When wet shaving either the face or body, make sure the razor is sharp and always apply a lubricant. Not doing so will irritate dry skin, making matters worse.
But the trouble with most soap-based lubricants is their drying effect. To overcome this, apply one of the above listed oils before shaving. This acts as a barrier between the skin and the lubricant, as well as softening hairs and moisturizing.
Alcohol-based after-shaves and similar astringents should be avoided.
Shea Butter for Chapped Lips
Lip balms contain beeswax, carnauba wax, or petroleum jelly, which are ideal to protect lips and keep moisture locked in, but they don’t hydrate. This is why lips continue to dry out in spite of multiple applications.
Some lip balms contain glycerin, which draws moisture up from the oil glands, but since lips have no oil glands it can be of no use.
If your lips are chapped, substitute lip balm for shea butter: it protects and moisturizes, as well as providing UV protection.
Macadamia or Coconut Oil for Dry Hands
For best results, dry and chapped hands should be treated overnight.
Before bed, heat virgin macadamia or coconut oil in a water bath, massage into your hands, and cover with cotton gloves.
Not only do these oils moisturize; with regular use they soften calloused skin and strengthen its protective barrier, making it less prone to dryness. Try on calloused feet, too.
To prevent dry hands, rinse thoroughly after washing, apply hand cream after contact with water, wear gloves in cold weather, and protect with rubber gloves when using detergents and similar chemicals.
Macadamia Oil Instead of Petroleum Jelly
Due to a high concentration of occlusive agents, macadamia oil can be used in place of Vaseline (petroleum jelly).
Like Vaseline, it's ideal for treating cracked elbows, knees, and heels.
For dry facial skin, add a very thin layer after moisturizing and before applying liquid foundation. This locks in moisture, shields from the elements, and lends a subtle glow.
Don't do this, however, if you have problem skin. Instead, use a non-comedogenic cream foundation, the hydrating qualities of which are far superior to those of liquid foundation.
To Recap: 12 Tips for Preventing and Soothing Dry Skin
- Never bath or shower in hot water. Lukewarm is best.
- Soap-based products dry the skin. Use a soap-free body wash, apply oil before lathering up with a shaving lubricant, and always rinse thoroughly.
- Never use a blunt razor.
- Never scratch itchy skin.
- To avoid itching and other irritations, skin care products should be alcohol and perfume free.
- Apply creams, lotions, and oils while the skin is still moist after bathing or cleansing.
- Never rub flaky and irritated skin when drying. Pat gently.
- Apply hand cream after contact with water and before going out in the cold.
- Always wear gloves during the cold season.
- Wear rubber gloves to avoid contact with detergents and other cleaning products.
- Apply shea butter to chapped lips.
- Apply a thin layer of macadamia oil beneath liquid foundation to lock in moisture and protect from the elements. If occlusive moisturizers are unsuitable for your skin type, consider cream foundation, which is heavier and more hydrating than liquid foundation.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2010 Jayne Lancer