Southern winters may appear mild, but they can still brutally dry our skin. Every time we step from heated buildings into cold air, we literally take it on the chin. What's a body to do? Try some soothing techniques and products to help you save face.
Start With a Clean Base
Skin is forgiving--to a point. If you begin addressing problem areas early, you can make a difference in a short time. Even many chronic problems, such dry or scaly patches, improve with regular care.
To begin any treatment, first cleanse skin, and then slough off dead cells. Anna Stevenson, an aesthetician at Cortex Midtown Spa Salon in Atlanta, advises avoiding soap almost entirely. She tells clients to apply diluted essential oils on the skin at the end of a shower.
We like Tara Spa Therapy's Aromatherapy Stress Relieving Massage Oil ($23), made from apricot, sunflower, sesame, jojoba, and other oils. Neutrogena Body Oil with sesame oil is less expensive ($9.99) and works well. To soothe minor aches, steep in a salt bath such as Crabtree & Evelyn's La Source Revitalising Mineral Muscle Soak ($20).
Some soaps are ideal for showers. Choose one designed for gentleness such as Crabtree & Evelyn's La Source Exfoliating Soap ($7). It's made with marine extracts that exfoliate to give you radiant skin. If you tend to have very dry skin, wash with an oil-based product such as Burt's Bees Orange Essence Facial Cleanser with orange oil ($9) or Oil of Olay Age Defying Renewal Cleanser ($5.59).
To read about the therapeutic value of showers, see "Shower of Benefits," on page 62 in the January 2003 issue of Southern Living.
An Ounce of Prevention
Of course the best way to care for your skin is to prevent it from drying in the first place. When working or playing outside in the cold, give Kiehl's All-Sport "Non-Freeze" Face Protector a try ($15). This wax-based product sports a 30 SPF (yes, winter sun is just as damaging as summer) and a water-resistant layer to keep the wind from cracking your skin. Use it on any exposed areas, including your neck and hands. You'll show off a silky glow for the winter.
Fountain of Youth
To get a dewy, healthy sheen, finish with a moisturizer. Apply lotions or essential oils to skin while it's still damp to lock in water's healing power.
Not all excellent moisturizers are expensive. We really like Burt's Bees Baby Bee Apricot Baby Oil ($13), Burt's Bees Carrot Nutritive Day Creme ($12), and Palmer's Shea Butter Formula With Vitamin E ($5.99). They keep skin soft all day. We also love the restorative powers of Crabtree & Evelyn's La Source Hydrating Cream--even at $28 (a 7-ounce jar will last about six months).
For an extra-special treat, slather lotion or oil on your hands and feet at bedtime. Then slip on a pair of gloves and cotton socks overnight.