The dry winter months can wreak havoc on skin, and extra hand washing during cold and flu season can only add to the problem. Hand lotion seems an easy answer to combat those dry scaly hands, but local natural body care creator Kelly Dougherty warns that some store bought lotions and soaps can exacerbate the issue.
“You want to use something that’s not going to dry out skin even more,” Dougherty said. “Unfortunately a lot of the regular soaps you buy in the drug store don’t have naturally occurring glycerin in them.”
Dougherty went on to explain that glycerin is what gives soap its moisturizing properties.
“Use a good quality soap that has naturally occurring glycerin in it and that’s going to provide a big difference in the dry winter weather,” she said.
She also suggested following up with a good quality lotion or, “something that doesn’t have alcohol in it or preservatives because those things work against your skin when you’re trying to moisturize.”
“Cocoa butter and some of the thicker body butter-type oils are really good for creating a moisture barrier. They help moisturize but also help prevent further moisture loss,” Dougherty said.
Using essential oils is another way to heal and protect from dry skin. Caroline Bracey, who has been using essential oils for a variety of things for nearly a year, said that for very dry skin Myrrh essential oil mixed in a carrier oil such as Jojoba can be useful to help heal chapped or cracked skin. She said she often uses fractionated (liquid) coconut oil as a carrier oil in which to mix the more concentrated essential oils.
“There are different dilutions depending on the age/sensitivity of the person using the oils,” she said, as most essential oils should be diluted in a carrier oil before being used on the skin.
“For less intensive needs, Frankincense helps improve and protect skin cells and Geranium helps to smooth skin. Melaleuca and Lavender are also a great combination for any kind of skin irritation,” Bracey said.
Though still months away from summer’s heat, Dougherty also reminded of the importance of using sunscreen to protect from harmful UV rays. She said though typical store brands of sunscreen do protect against these harmful rays, they also can contain harmful chemicals.
“If you’re real particular about what you put in your body, be just as particular about what you put on your body, because the skin is the largest organ. If you shouldn’t eat it, then it shouldn’t go on your skin,” she said. “Unfortunately, sunblock is one of the most toxic things that people put on their skin, of course it helps protect against something else toxic such as sun damage and skin cancer.”
Dougherty said to check the ingredients on sunscreen and look for one that is primarily zinc oxide based with other natural oils.
“Natural sunblocks that are made with zinc oxide are usually a little bit thicker, not as nice as the spray cans where you don’t get your hands dirty, but they are much safer for your skin and for kids to put on,” she said. “It’s a little chalkier, but that’s what is really creating a protective barrier.
“It’s not nearly as sexy as a spray can of tanning oil, but skin cancer also isn’t very sexy,” Dougherty added.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.