Many of us suffer from chapped lips and dry skin especially when the colder months are upon us. Cranking up the central heating, creating a drying atmosphere indoors, coupled with the harsh cold outside, will inevitably bring the seasonal problem of dry skin, hair and lips to us before the the winter truly sets in.
In this two-part blog special we thought we’d share some of the most effective natural remedies that we’ve come across which have really helped us avoid that winter dryness over the years.
Our lips don’t have oil glands to keep them soft and moist and unfortunately, by sheer design, they are overly exposed to the elements. Sun, wind and other irritants means that during any extreme conditions our lips are usually the first to get chapped, dry and sore. Keep them soft and kissable by protecting and moisturising them well.
Beeswax is nature’s wonder balm and very effective at providing a natural protective barrier from the elements. Coating your lips with a salve/balm that contains beeswax before heading out is a fantastic way to protect your delicate lips from any harsh elements.
Cocoa Butter is a personal favourite. A quick search online will quickly reveal that many people swear by this simple ingredient. That is because, unlike barrier products, cocoa butter will nourish and relieve chapped lips by being absorbed deep into the lips. You have to apply liberally and frequently to really benefit, but it is definitely worth doing.
We've discovered that our body butter is very effective at relieving sore, cracked and chapped lips. It contains both beeswax and cocoa butter so, naturally, has double the power at tackling the problem. Plus having something that smells nice and benefiting from the additional essential oils in them is an added bonus.
Avoid licking your lips!! It’s tempting to lick those cracked lips, especially when there isn’t anything to relieve them to hand. But remember that your saliva will only give you temporary relief, it contains a digestive enzyme that dries out tissue and will leave them worse than before.
Olive oil and coconut oil is a wonderful natural alternative to soften and moisturise chapped lips for when you’re at home, admittedly not great for carrying around with you, unless you scoop a small amount into a clean tin for when you're out and about. An easy alternative which doesn't require much work are Pure Vitamin E capsules. These make an incredibly handy and versatile travel companion when you’re out and about. Keep a few in every handbag (particularly handy if you switch your bag a lot!) that way you’ve got a standby should you forget to pop your favourite lip balm/salve (or body butter) into your bag. Simply puncture a capsule and dab onto your lips when you feel you need to.
When all is in sync our skin produces sebum, an oil that keeps the skin supple and moisturised. But come winter, the cold air outdoors and the dry air indoors can cause the skin to become dry, flaky and cracked. These harsh extreme conditions coupled with skin drying soap and excessive showers/baths just exasperate dryness.
Try soothing your skin with Aloe Vera. If you can, go directly to the source. Nothing beats the cooling sensation and healing power of aloe vera gel that has just been sliced from its leaf. Apply directly to dry, cracked skin and you’ll notice how quickly it promotes healing. Aloe contains acids which remove dead skin cells, leaving noticeably fresher, brighter skin.
Use a gentle all natural soap which won’t dry your skin. Opting for sulphate free formulas which have a high content of base oils will gently cleanse your skin without stripping it of its natural oils. Keep your showers short and baths brief. As a rule, you shouldn’t take a shower or bath for longer than 15 minutes and always use warm water not hot water. As appealing as it may be, especially once the weather plummets, hot showers and baths only do more damage to your skin than good.
Make sure that you moisturise your skin properly after you’ve bathed or showered, and do so while your skin is still damp. Did you know that you have a 3 minute window to moisturise yourself after you’ve showered/bathed? Remember that by moisturising while your skin is still damp and within this time frame means that your skin will lock in the additional moisture that you're applying as it dries.
Moisturise yourself regularly and invest in a good quality night cream/balm. Or switch your usual facial moisturiser for a homemade face oil in the winter months. There are so many combinations that its difficult to pick a favourite - but a current obsession is with fair trade argan oil infused with Orange Blossom. It is so fragrant and is the perfect night time facial oil. The scent is very therapeutic and the best part is waking up with baby soft skin! However, if you feel uneasy about using such a rich oil on your face or you don't have very dry skin try using rose hip oil instead. It's very light and easily absorbed but will still give you wonderfully smooth glowing skin.
Pay particular attention to your hands and feet. Our hands work hard, are almost always exposed and produce the least amount of sebum, which makes them prone to dryness. So it makes sense to give them a little extra TLC. Keep a good quality hand cream rich in natural plant butters and Vitamin E oil to hand (excuse the pun!). Constant hand washing doesn't help either, use protective gloves when you're doing those mundane household chores and try to invest in some gentle liquid hand wash that aims to replenish moisture and nourish your hands instead of drying them out.
You are what you eat and drink! The state of our skin has a direct correlation to our diet and whether we’re drinking enough water and getting the right balance of nutrients from our food. If you’re dehydrated then you can expect that your skin will suffer first. Its simple to avoid this, just make sure you get plenty of water to drink (herbal teas also count!) and avoid caffeine and alcohol! Having a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids will keep your skin-cell membranes healthy. Try to incorporate oily fish, nuts, flax seed and avocados in your diet and consider taking B-complex supplements for an additional boost.
If you try to take the above into consideration and act now, you could have a relatively itch and flake free winter. I know that Its easier said than done and chances are that you already know most of what I've just mentioned (in which case, think of this as a gentle reminder). Its easy to let life's demands take over and as a result we often neglect ourselves, but these simple natural changes can really help with your quest for soft supple skin.
However if you find that you've incorporated the above for some time and are still experiencing very dry skin or chapped lips please do visit your doctor. In rare cases dry skin or severely chapped lips can be a sign of an underlying medical condition.
Have you tried any of these tips and did you find them effective? We'd love to hear your natural dry skin beating tips too!