Do cold temperatures and erratic office thermostats have your skin feeling dry, itchy, or raw this time of year? Good news: Getting the moisture your skin craves doesn't have to mean purchasing an expensive cream or braving the elements with a trip to the drugstore. Some of the natural ingredients you may already be enjoying for breakfast or pouring over salads perform just as well in the bathroom. While the following four items may not be able to keep snowflakes away, they can help keep skin flakiness at bay.
It's common to immediately point to moisturizing as a simple solution to dryness. But exfoliation is an important first step. Sloughing off dry skin creates a fresh, smooth canvas so your skin can better absorb a moisturizer's hydration properties.
Pumpkin contains naturally-occurring acids and enzymes that dissolve dead skin cells. Want to witness this magic from Mother Nature for yourself? First, select cans that read "organic" and "100 percent pumpkin." Organic pumpkin puree will also work well. Going organic ensures you won't be putting any harmful pesticides or chemicals on your body. Plus, the more ingredients in the can, the less pumpkin. Slather a thin layer of the orange stuff onto skin and wait 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing off in the bath or shower.
When milk ferments, you end up with yogurt. During the fermentation process, healthy bacteria produce lactic acid as a byproduct, which is a well-known natural exfoliant found in yogurt. If you want to give yogurt a go, be sure to use plain, unflavored yogurt without added sugars or artificial sweeteners.To reap the exfoliating benefits, apply the yogurt to your body the same way as described above with pumpkin.
The sweet stuff often added to coffee and tea can help your skin hit its sweet spot, too. Agave nectar is a natural humectant, which makes it an ideal natural moisturizer. Here's how this works: Humectants hold onto water in the air and bring it to your skin, keeping it hydrated. rejuvenate your skin when the air is dry during winter months. Bonus: Agave nectar has natural anti-inflammatory properties, so it's said to help calm redness and alleviate irritation, two common complaints when it gets chilly outside.
Keep an eye out for agave nectar labels that read "organic," "raw," "unfiltered," "unpasteurized," or "USDA Grade A." These terms mean the agave nectar was produced safely and hasn't been as processed. After applying agave nectar directly to your skin, leave it on for a few minutes to let it sink in. (We give you full permission to lick some off your fingers.) The short wait will be worth it: Once washed off, you won't be able to stop touching your baby-soft skin.
Get this: Olive oil contains squalene, an ingredient in human sebum (a science-y word for the oil your skin naturally produces). When you give your skin an extra dose of something that's already in it, you'll restore skin to its optimal state.
Olive oil is also a rich source of healthy fatty acids known as omega-3s, specifically DHA and EPA. While the former is responsible for keeping the cell membrane (a primary component of the skin) in tip-top shape, EPA helps regulate the skin's oil production and hydration. Lastly, olive oil has plenty of vitamin E, which works to create a moisture barrier between the skin and external surroundings, whether it's an itchy sweater or below-zero forecast.
Scan olive oil labels for varieties that read "organic" and "extra virgin." These types of oils are less processed, so you're getting the most natural product possible. Try adding a few tablespoons of olive oil to your next bath. Alternatively, after the bath or shower, massage olive oil into damp skin. Keep in mind, olive oil can be thick and heavy. Feel free to wipe off any excess with a towel.
Last step? Kiss scaly knees and elbows goodbye! Just because it's rough outside doesn't mean your skin has to follow suit. Go ahead and move those bottles of agave nectar and olive oil from the kitchen to the bathroom. Or, buy two of each so your counters don't have to compete.