surviving the cold spell…

by bellab

eskimo children

It happens every year around this time, you’d think I’d be more prepared. Christmas is over and the cold snap kicks in in earnest in the January bleakness. This is when I have to loose all glamour, I’m afraid, and level with you about my dry skin issues. It’s not beauty product grade ‘dry’ as in a cursory swipe of body lotion post-shower sorts it out. I’m talking itchy, uncomfortable borderline eczema. On legs, arms, tummy, shoulders for chrissakes! Reptile skin. Transepidermal water loss. However you want to call it, my skin barrier (the natural layer that keep moisture in and infection out) is shot. A result of too much central heating as the temperatures plummet (as I type, 10cms of snow is settling on the roof outside my window) and not enough omegas I suspect, though I couldn’t physically consume any more skin-salving avocados, nuts and seeds.

So, how to solve this skin disaster. First up (and this really isn’t glam in the slightest readers, I warn you) I’ve packed away my aromatic shower gels in place of a giant tub of medicinal-looking aqueous cream. You don’t know how long I spent in Boots deliberating this purchase but so far, I haven’t found any natural product (even my Dr Bronner’s Pure Soap hasn’t safeguarded me this winter) I can use in place of shower gel that has the same effect. That is to create a film on the skin that stops moisture escaping. I hate that it contains liquid paraffin, it massively jars with my mission to detox my bathroom, but in fact Paula Begoun, aka the Cosmetics Cop, says it’s really not so bad after all. It’s a naturally derived mineral oil that has effective skin emollient properties, just what I need (read her full blurb here).

Next up, what to use after the shower? Oh and here I should add that over-cleansing is actually counter-productive in this entire process, making the skin even drier, especially if you shower in super hot water, something I’m guilty off when it’s too cold to even step out of the bathroom. Presently I’m switching between pure coconut oil and a zinc and castor oil cream I picked up in the Baby section at Boots. So basically, I’m covered in nappy cream. Again, attempting to stick with as few ingredients and keep them as natural as possible. If you flip any of the bottles in the supposed ‘dry skin’ section of your local chemist you’ll see that most of the formulas contain at least 15 ingredients AND perfume, which to me seems counter-intuitive for irritated skin. Plus they all cost in excess of £6. My nappy cream was £1.25. (My one concession here is Aveeno. They’re not 100% natural by any stretch, but I do like the addition of colloidal oatmeal in their dry skin range, though instead I’m going to try the old sock-of-oats-in-the-bathtub trick. Same skin soothing oat substance, less packaging and cost, it is January after all.)

Finally, I’m thinking more about what I put into my mouth. If that could be possible since food is pretty much what I’m thinking about at any given moment. I was lucky enough to be gifted recently with two bottles of tasty Udo’s oil, though I’ll admit I haven’t been as religious in my dosage as I could have been. It’s an omega oil blend made from cold pressed seeds of flax, sunflower and sesame plus coconut oil, rice and oat germ (note: no whiffy fish oils so it’s veggie/vegan friendly too). You add a few tablespoons to soups, juices, salads, porridge and so on to shoehorn more omega 3, 6 and 9 into your system. But it must be used raw, heating destroys the essential fatty acids that will hopefully return my scaling skin back to its former glory. That and buckets of water and rooibos masala tea and rehydration here I come.

*picture via Pinterest