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