This winter has had some bitter cold days, even in my beloved and typically mild Bay Area.  Sitting next to my portable heater while working/blogging on my laptop was really doing a number on my skin.  I started to incorporate some oils that are heavier than my usual argan, but still it wasn’t quite enough, even with plenty of hydrating on the inside.  Although I had previously rejected the oil cleansing method as not the right thing for me, I thought maybe it was time for a seasonal change in my regimen.  I took a short trip to the ultra-dry Lake Tahoe for my son’s hockey tournament, and between the outdoors and the cold/dry rink, the life was getting sucked right out of my face.  But I was prepared, and came home looking better than when I left.

So what’s making the difference?  Three things: coconut oil, a new balm, and a cream I’d forgotten about.

There’s been plenty of mention of the oil cleansing method (OCM) on this blog – where instead of using a regular cleanser, you rub in an oil and wipe it off using a warm washcloth*.  I started by trying coconut oil, and had some success.  It feels wonderfully soothing on my skin, and easily takes off the mineral makeup I wear on a typical day. But I still needed something more…

100% Pure Brightening Night Balm to the rescue.  It has some of the same brightening ingredients I use in my DIY (bearberry, licorice) plus kojic acid and vitamin C in a base of avocado and shea butters.  I use it as a cleansing balm (works great!) and also put on a little extra after cleansing.  Some days I put on a bit in the morning too, after a honey cleanse.  I’ve been able to skip my DIY brightener when I’m using it, with no noticeable return of my sun damaged brown patches.  It might even be making improvements – it’s hard to tell, I may need a few more weeks of use to know for sure.  It’s very thick as the balm designation suggests, and the scent is a light citrus, which is pleasant but does not stick around.

Zoe Organics Extreme Cream goes on over the balm when the weather is severely dry.  I’ve been able to ease up on this the past few days of warmer weather, but it makes a perfect extra layer of soothing protection for super dry times.  I tried it a while back, but kind of forgot about it with all my body butter experiments.  I remembered it recently when a reader was looking for an eczema solution – this is considered by some to be a skin miracle for the super dry and sensitive set.  It’s another shea-based product with jojoba, rosehip, and coconut oils, plus soothing calendula and marshmallow.  It has a light marshmallowy smell and a frosting consistency.

I know I’ll back off from these somewhat as the weather warms up, but they’ll still have their uses, and I’m ready for all the winters to come.  I highly recommend these products for hands too.  In spite of my devotion to hand care, my hands were like sandpaper as soon as I got to Tahoe.  Just one day of layering the products, plus wearing light wool liner gloves, got me back to smooth.  I haven’t had any pore clogging problems.  My standard monthly hormonal breakouts happen and heal, maybe a little faster than usual with the soothing ingredients.

Have you tried these products?  Are you an oil cleanser? What’s giving life back to your winter skin?

*I’ve actually been using mostly paper towels made from 100% recycled materials.  A washcloth is usually a little too rough on my sensitive skin, plus I’m using fewer laundry-related resources so I feel like it evens out.


Beautiful image via the University of Washington Library

13

Seven Ways to Better Care for Winter Skin

So, this is actually a repost of an article I wrote last year for GOOD. We’ve never done a repost before, but because several people have sent us emails about their winter skin woes I thought it could be helpful to those who had missed this one—and a reminder to the rest of us. Even to moi, the advice doller who woke up this morning with dryer-than-usual skin and serious lip crackage. Also? Awesome excuse to post a picture from Dr. Zhivago.

How do change you beauty routine, diet, and routine in the winter?

Cosmetics companies just love to sell you on the idea that each new season calls for an arsenal of new products. And why wouldn’t they? It means you’ll ditch your half-finished current bottle of snake oil in favor of one that comes with the same crap on the inside and different claims on the out. Cha-ching.

Of course, it’s true that cold weather and even clock changes can have serious side effects for skin. But if you’re the sensitive type, switching out your entire regimen—i.e. risking reactions to new products—right when the temperature is dropping, is likely to do more harm than good. In fact if your skin is at all finicky, we strongly advocate sticking to routine in this area.

So how to beat your winter skin woes? Click “Next” above to read the tips that will matter most for winter skin.

1. Moisturize. Yes, it’s the most boring advice in the world, but there’s a reason people say it so often. Moisturizing does exactly what it implies: It helps keep moisture in by replicating the skin’s natural barrier function. It’s simple science, and you don’t need to use a different one for every season. Find a good clean moisturizer that you love, or get with the oil program, and just do it consistently. If you’re out and about in the winter keep a to-go version in your bag for some extra application.

2.Wash less. We’ve covered this in the past, and the merits of this advice are doubly relevant for winter. Over-washing strips skin of its natural protective oils, robs it of healthy bacteria, increases exposure to harmful and/or irritating chemicals, and generally aggravates skin conditions like rosacea and eczema—the very same ones that are exacerbated by seasonal changes. So as the air gets cold and dry, and you’re less likely to be a sweaty mess, do yourself a favor and get with the dirty program.

3. Avoid the acids. You don’t have to agree with our no-acid rule, but even proponents of stripping and peeling should dial back over the winter. Whether you use AHAs or BHAs, go for chemical peels, get microderm abrasion, or just subscribe to a heavy scrubbing routine, we reallyreallyreally think you should slow down. While you may be less at risk to sun exposure over the winter, burning off that top layer of skin will make you all the more vulnerable to the chafing, drying and cracking effects of cold air and gusty winds. While you may think this is reducing fine lines, we think over the long haul it’s speeding up the aging process.

4. Get your fat on. Ever notice how you crave more fat in the winter? While the diet set will offer tips on how to counter that impulse, we think that the body has an innate intelligence when it comes to such things. Healthy fats, especially omegas 3s, are key to maintaining hydrated, glowy, happy skin. Winter’s a good time to up your intake on these and as an added bonus it will help satisfy that appetite for grease the healthy way. Foods like salmon, sardines, olive oil and walnuts are chock full of omegas, but we’re not opposed to taking a supplement on top of that. Just make sure it’s a good one.

5. Improve your digestion. Your tummy is talking to you, and what it’s saying can often be read on your skin. While we don’t think you need different products every season, we do think you need different food. In past posts about Ayurveda we’ve explained how important it is to eat with the season. Winter calls for warm, calming foods and the previously mentioned healthy fats. Sorry salad girls, but your skin needs something a little bit more substantial and heat-producing to face the winter months. Instead of eating your veggies raw, make a soup or stir fry with them instead.

6. Dose up on D. Vitamin D has emerged as something of a miracle worker in the last few years. While research is ongoing, there is promising evidence that it could help prevent cancer, raise immunity, and lower the risks associated with all kinds of diseases. It’s also a powerful antioxidant, and you know that that means. Because the sun is a primary source for vitamin D, and because most of us are deficient, we’re going to suggest that you look to increase your intake of this wonder vitamin during the winter.  It is available in certain foods, like fish and fortified milk, but it’s hard to get enough through those sources. As with fish oil, we think it’s a good idea to take supplements too.

7. Get a humidifier. One easy way to counter dry air is—ding, ding, ding—to add moisture to it. Some advice from the experts at the Mayo Clinic:Be sure to keep your humidifier clean, because a dirty one is an amazing place for bacteria to thrive. Also, try to have your humidifier where you spend the most time, since you’d need several to change the air quality of a house or large apartment. We suggest you put it by your bed when you’re asleep: That way you’ll wake up with happy, hydrated skin.

Image via

19

Product Review: Amal Organic Argan Oil

Here’s the thing: When we were writing the book, a certain amount of divide-and-conquer was required in order to properly test out products.

I quickly fell in love with coconut oil; Siobhan not so much. Instead she became the resident evangelist for argan oil, and once she discovered Kahina Giving Beauty, she was in love.

I am not a seasoned argan user (though when I visit Siobhan you can’t keep my mitts off her Kahina!), so I was pretty excited to receive a bottle of Amal Organic Argan Oil and put this Moroccan elixir to the test.

After a few months of use now, I can see what all the fuss is about. The Amal has a pleasant nutty smell, feels great, absorbs quickly, and seems to be keeping my skin nicely balanced and hydrated.

Another bonus? At $35 for a decent-sized bottle ($28 if you help do a little social networking for them) it’s the most affordable argan we’ve come across so far. When I asked the owner, Jalila Bouchareb (pictured above), how she was able to keep the price down she chalked it up to an efficient production system, and to the network she’s been able to establish in Morocco as a native herself. She also emphasized the philanthropic part of the business.

“The main goal of Amal Oils is to donate a portion of profits back to the women cooperatives to give them the income, healthcare and education that they need for themselves and their families and to help preserve the argan forest,” said Bouchareb.

So if you’ve been wanting to try argan but have been deterred by price, Amal is a great option. And in the winter, everyone needs the extra hydration, am I right?

Have you tried argan oil? What’s your experience been?

Images via Amal’s site

12

How to Care for Winter Skin

Here’s the latest from GOOD:

Cosmetics companies just love to sell you on the idea that each new season calls for an arsenal of new products. And why wouldn’t they? It means you’ll ditch your half-finished current bottle of snake oil in favor of one that comes with the same crap on the inside and different claims on the out. Cha-ching.

Of course, it’s true that cold weather and even clock changes can have serious side effects for skin. But if you’re the sensitive type, switching out your entire regimen—i.e. risking reactions to new products—right when the temperature is dropping, is likely to do more harm than good. In fact if your skin is at all finicky, we strongly advocate sticking to routine in this area.

So how to beat your winter skin woes? Click “Next” in the slideshow for tips that will matter most for winter skin.

Illustrations by Brianna Harden