The Cure for Dry Skin

About this time every year, I get the same question: What can I do about my dry skin? Working exclusively with bodycare for the past several years, I know you need to do only two things to achieve healthy, supple skin.

Anytime you hear the words “hydrate” or “moisturize,” it really means add water. Maybe you’ve noticed that the number-one ingredient in any lotion or cream is usually water. In fact, you may be paying a lot of money for a product that is mostly water. Hydrate skin by soaking in warm water for a few minutes before applying your moisturizer.

Yes, it’s cold outside, but hot water does nothing but dry out skin. Stick to warm water and mild soap. A soap with a mild surfactant such as cocamidopropyl betaine will be gentler than one with sodium laurel or sodium laureth sulfate (SLS), and will be just as effective. Avoid shampoos with SLS if you tend toward dry hair.

NUMBER TWO: Hold in that moisture
Put on an emollient and/or humectant to hold and draw moisture to your skin. The skin needs oil to maintain its health and shielding powers. Oils that are most similar to the body’s own are most effective.

I’ve found the best product for this to be shea (pronounced shay) butter. It comes from the karite tree in Africa. Women harvest the nuts, whose crushed kernels make rich, emollient butter. It is the cocoa butter of the new century. Pure shea butter can be used on any part of the body, face, lips, or scalp, even cracked or bleeding skin. Because it contains no perfumes or dyes, it will not irritate or sting. Any lotion with 20 percent or more shea butter will do a good job. Argan oil is another great moisture-locker.

Lotions with natural nut and seed oils are another way to hold in moisture. One trick we use is to add a little super-rich avocado oil to our base lotions to create a rich, enduring after-bath balm.

I find natural, plant-derived oils to be the best thing for dry skin, as they are more like the skin’s own oil, and can be broken down by the body. Mineral oils do not break down, and stay on the skin’s surface. Our bodycare products contain natural, organically derived oils. That’s the secret to healthy winter skin!

Linda Kleinbaum is the CEO of Garden of Eden, a custom-scenting bath, beauty, and bodycare store in St. Paul. Locally owned and operated, it has been in business since 1972.

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