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Better Choices - Natural Tips For Dry Itchy Skin
January 28, 2010
What's In This Issue:
Help For Itchy, Dry Winter Skin
Smack dab in the middle of winter and my skin feels dry, flaky and downright itchy. Dry heated air in my house and cold dry air outside is mostly to blame. It pulls the moisture from the skin a little bit every day.
For me, my back and shins are just an itchy pain in the .... Well, you get the idea. Past years I have dealt with this by slathering on lotion but this year it seems worse so I thought it was time for a more intensive plan. Plenty of research later I came up with a an all natural plan that is working.
Here's The Plan:
The goal is to prevent moisture from escaping from your skin and replenish it with extra moisture.
Don't overlook this most important step. Dead skin cells on the surface can prevent your moisturizer from doing it's job so make this a priority. I really like skin brushing. It feels good and it's healthy. Once you try it you'll see what I mean. I like to take my time so I do it before my shower. It can be done while showering but is more effective when dry. Check out dry skin brushing for more info.
Ayate cloth is also an excellent natural fiber to use when exfoliating. It is made from dried fibers of the Agave plant. It is a coarse material that can be found as a cloth or a small bag good for inserting your own soap into to use as a scrubber. Check these out at Mountain Rose Herbs.
Alternately, try a good body scrub. While you can find many wonderful scrubs to buy this is one of those beauty products that is very easy to make yourself. It can be as simple as combining a good quality oil like olive oil with salt or sugar. The salts or sugar provides exfoliation while the oils moisturize. For some ideas on which ingredients work best read more about homemade exfoliants. Some of these recipes can be used for face or body.
I really like oil based scrubs but find they are difficult to use when showering or bathing. They can make surfaces very slick. Also, make sure to wash excess scrub from your hands with soap to avoid transferring any oil to your hair. Had I been more careful I would not have had to go through a day trying to figure out why my hair was so flat and limp. All because I left some oil on my hands and touched my hair after my shower.
The natural oils in your skin work to keep it moist but hot water and harsh soaps remove these protective oils. Give your skin a fighting chance by choosing gentle cleansers. Soaps high in fats are good for your skin. Natural soaps made with shea butter or olive oil cleanse without drying as do castile soaps. Try Dr. Bronners liquid castile soaps which provide gentle skin care along reading material. Have you ever seen one of their bottles?
For those times when my skin is particularly dry I forgo my hot shower and stick with warm water. Same goes for those of you who prefer a bath. Not as satisfying but my skin really feels better for it. Don't overdo. Keep it short and cleanse only the parts of your body that need it - underarms, groin, feet.
Sometimes even the gentlest soaps can be a problem. Try using a small muslin cloth bag filled with skin softening ingredients for cleansing in place of soap for extra dry areas.
Try these ingredients:
3 tbs. ground oats
3 tbs other ground seeds or nuts (almonds, sunflower seeds)
1 tsp. powdered milk (whole milk, buttermilk, etc.)
Mix ingredients together and pour into bag. Wet the bag and wash as usual.
Twice a day and always after showering or bathing.
Applying moisturizer often makes a big difference but is especially effective after washing. The trick here is to try and capture some of the moisture on your skin. After washing gently pat excess moisture and quickly apply a good moisturizer while skin is still damp.
My favorite moisturizers include those made with shea butter, well known for it's moisturizing abilities. Body butters are particularly good. If I have the time or if showering before bed I like to use organic extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil(absorbs a little faster than olive oil). These are both oils that are very good for the skin but they need a little time to absorb. It is surprising that something so simple is probably my favorite way to treat my dry skin. There are also many other great skin oils you can buy. Try Restorative Skin Oil from Mountain Rose Herbs. Made with organic Calendula, rose hips, vitamin E and essential oils it provides extra moisture to winter skin.
Bedtime is a good time to use heavier products on your skin like oils and butters. For the most part the greasier a product the better it holds in moisture. So slick yourself up and slide on into bed. In the morning your skin will be feeling better.
4. Eat Well and Don't Forget To Drink Water
Beautiful skin really does start from the inside out. A bad diet shows up on your skin and deprives it of the nutrients it needs to stay soft and supple. Fruits and vegetables along with healthy oils like olive or sunflower oil. Research shows that omega 3's from fish oils which are the richest source are the best but flax seed oil is also good. Don't forget to drink water. Sometimes I forget to drink enough water during cold weather. New research shows that we do not need as much water as some are pushing. The 8 - 8 ounce glasses still seems to be the best recommendation.
5. Try Extra Humidity
One of the best things you can do for your skin is get a humidifier. Forced air furnaces and heaters are so drying. I have my thermostat set low so my house is cool which is fine when I move around but when I am sitting still I get cold so I have a small personal heater to keep warm. Boy, does that dry my skin. A good humidifer is a skin saver and actually makes it easier to set the thermostat lower since moist air feels warmer.
Having done some research on these I was surprised that I didn't find one humidifier that was generally rated the best. Surprisingly, some of the least expensive models seem to do a good job for the price and users seem to be happier with them. My preference is for a warm mist humidifier over a cool mist. Cool mist doesn't heat the water but sprays fine particles into the air. While the warm mist humidifiers heat the water and releases the steam into the air. Check out the wide variety of cool and warm mist humidifiers and read reviews from users at Amazon.
Anything that adds moisture to your indoor air helps. Water fountains are a fun, pretty and soothing way to add some beauty and moisture to the air. Amazon also has a nice selection of those.
Dry, itchy skin like mine is caused by the normal process of aging and dry air. This easy to follow routine has really helped me. I am no longer waking in the middle of the night wanting to scratch and that is welcome relief but not all itchy skin can so easily be handled. Some medical problems or other skin conditions can also cause itchy skin so be sure and check with your doctor.
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Thanks to all the readers and contributors to Natural Living for Women. I hope in some way this site has been helpful to you.
Please feel free to contact me at any time with comments or ideas you would like to see in the future.
Until next time.
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