Here are four DIY approaches to get you through these last few weeks of this sometimes magical, sometimes heinous season.
At this point, you’re probably sick of hearing and reading about the fact that it’s winter and it’s cold and likely snowing somewhere close to you. I get it. I’m over this whole season. The first time it snowed, it was magical. I put on my boots and went outside to twirl around in the flakes like a kid. The second time, I watched the drifts out a window with a smile on my face. The third time…I was almost immediately annoyed with the slushy puddles that formed on the sidewalk because of course I was wearing the wrong shoes. The fourth time I just rolled my eyes and said out loud, “I AM OVER THIS,” hoping Mother Nature would hear me. Then I promptly slipped on a patch of black ice.
Wet socks and the need for tiny steps aside, winter weather also wreaks havoc on our skin. The air is dry, which means our skin is dry. The artificial heat is pumping constantly, which means what little moisture our skin manages to retain gets sucked out the minute we step inside. The wind is freezing and strong, which means our faces and other exposed parts of our body are constantly being battered by the elements. Basically, our skin is a punching bag for the elements that make winter, well, winter.
If you’re feeling the burn (literally) of this season, there is hope…I promise. Hopefully you’ve switched up your skincare routine a bit to account for the temperature changes but beyond that, here are a few DIY approaches to get you through these last few weeks of this sometimes magical, sometimes heinous season.
Steam! That! FACE!
(Said in the Oprah voice, of course.) Searching for that glowing, dewy, hydrated skin that came so naturally over the summer? Get your facial steam on once a week to make sure your face is getting the moisture it so desperately needs. Hovering your face over a gentle stream of steam will not only soften your skin so it can better soak up any moisturizing ingredients you slather on after, but if you add hydrating ingredients like herbs, flowers and essential oils to the water, the steam will help carry their healing benefits deep into your pores.
How to do it: After cleansing your face completely, bring 3-4 cups of water to an almost-boil and pour it into a large glass bowl. Add your herbs/flowers/oils, then lean over the bowl so your face is 6-8 inches above the water and create a tent around your head and bowl with a large, clean towel to keep the steam diverted to your face. Stay like this for five minutes, breathe deep, and let the steam do its thing.
Take a bath, seriously.
Sure, this sounds simple — and it is — but a bath can truly work wonders on your dry, flaking skin if you add the right stuff to the water. (Just make sure the water isn’t too hot as that will dry your skin out even further.)
How to do it: Fill up your tub with warm water. If you’re feeling particularly itchy and dry, mix together a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and 1/2 cup of finely ground oats, and add them to the water. The olive oil will moisturize your skin while you soak and the oatmeal has anti-inflammatory properties that help remove dead skin cells. If your muscles are sore from all the tensing you’ve been doing while walking and navigating patches of ice and snow, add ½ a cup of Epsom salts and a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the water. The salt will help relax and soothe your muscles (and exfoliate your skin), while the essential oil relaxes and soothes your mind.
Get your scrub on.
A homemade body scrub is truly one of life’s greatest pleasures and there’s no better time to employ one than when you’re neck-deep in winter. Use it all over or on particularly rough patches (knees, elbows, etc.) to slough off the dead, itchy skin that’s so common when it’s cold out. Just be sure to load up on moisturizer after to keep that skin hydrated and comfortable.
How to do it: This one is so easy it hurts. Combine two parts granulated sugar (white or brown — it doesn’t matter) with one part oil (coconut or olive oil work wonders) and 10-20 drops of your favorite essential oil if the mood strikes. Store the mixture in a sealable glass jar and get to scrubbing!
When in doubt…mask.
For an added dose of hydration on top of your daily serums, oils and moisturizers, consider whipping up a dryness-combating mask once a week with stuff you likely already have in your kitchen and medicine cabinet. (Just be sure to actually apply this to your face…you may be tempted to eat it with a spoon or spread it on toast.)
How to do it: Combine 1 teaspoon of honey, ¼ of a ripe avocado and 1 teaspoon of your favorite hydrating oil (no blends here — stick to one, like vitamin E or jojoba). Spread it around your face and hang out for 15 minutes. The oil will serve as a hydrating antioxidant, the avocado and its fat will soothe dry patches and the honey will round things out by retaining all that good, good moisture.