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Help for Dry Winter Skin

Geralyn O’Brien, licensed and oncology-focused esthetician, Waterford Place Cancer Resource Center
Humidity levels drop and heat levels in our homes and offices rise. We cover our bodies and feet in additional socks, boots and clothing. All lead to dryer skin in the winter months.

Sugar ScrubAreas that tend to become dryer in the winter include feet, elbows, knees and hands. What can you do? The following tips can help address some of the changes you may be experiencing this winter. Consider trying some of the recipes for homemade skin products and be sure to read the safety precautions to follow when making them.

1. Humidifier – Keeping moisture in the air becomes harder at this time of the year. A humidifier helps to add moisture back into the air. Turning down the heat can also help.

2. Detergents – Use fragrance-free detergents such as Seventh Generation or Molly’s Suds. Using detergents with less harsh chemicals helps prevent clothing from irritating your skin. Chemotherapy and radiation cause your skin to become more fragile, sensitive and dry so using fragrance-free detergents is an important step to remember during your cancer treatment and beyond.

3. Temperature Changes – Sun protection is important in the winter months. Our skin is our protective barrier, and cold, harsh winds contribute to dry skin. A physical sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide will help protect you when outdoors or driving in your car. If you are already experiencing rough, dry skin, put on a pair of thin cotton gloves under your winter gloves for an extra layer of protection. This may also be helpful for cancer patients experiencing neuropathy or for those at risk for lymphedema to help avoid further irritation from wool gloves.

4. Showers and Baths – Avoid hot showers and baths; use lukewarm water instead. After showering or bathing and while skin is still damp, apply a hydrating moisturizer or body oil. Consider incorporating dry brushing into your daily routine before showering. If you are at risk for or already experiencing lymphedema, watch this YouTube video demonstration of how to dry brush for compromised areas. A warm bath using ingredients like organic ground oats, powdered milk and powdered honey can also help dry, itchy skin.

5. Hands – Skin on our hands tends to be thinner than skin on other parts of our bodies. Our hands have fewer oil glands and this can lead to cracking and itchiness. Frequent handwashing also contributes to dry skin. Make sure your cleansers are free of sulfates, synthetic fragrance, artificial dyes and other harsh chemicals. A gentle sugar scrub along with a heavier skin balm helps combat dry, rough skin.

6. Feet – Skin on the soles of our feet is thicker than skin on other parts of our body and lacks oil glands and hair. Lack of moisture on our feet can lead to dead skin buildup. Our feet are covered in socks, boots and heavier shoes in the winter which contributes to dryer skin. We tend to forget about moisturizing and taking care of our feet not only in the winter but throughout the year. Soak your feet once a week in Epsom salt or organic ground oats, honey powder and powdered buttermilk. Remove dead skin with a sugar scrub, pumice stone, brush, pedi-egg or Amope electronic dry foot file. Avoid any treatments on the feet if you are undergoing chemotherapy and your skin has become more fragile. Always be gentle and avoid harsh treatments on sore or open skin.

7. Face – Add a few drops of jojoba into your moisturizer in the winter, along with a hydrating mist and hyaluronic, stem cell or ceramide serum under your moisturizer for additional hydration. Once a week, add a hydrating sheet mask or Manuka honey and oatmeal mask into your routine. Use a jade or rose quartz roller over the sheet mask to infuse the mask into your skin.

8. Lips – Add a lip balm or skin balm with ingredients like shea butter, jojoba or squalene (olive oil based) to your lips to help protect from cracking. If going outdoors, use an SPF lip balm for extra sun protection.

9. Product Suggestions – The Glass Promenade Gift Ship at Rush Copley carries CV Skinlabs, Hale and Hush, Jojoba Company and NeoGenesis skin care products, and Waterford Place Cancer Resource Center participants receive a 20% discount. Here are some suggestions from each product line to help combat winter skin problems.

CV Skinlabs: Use Skin Balm for dry skin patches or cracked lips and CV Body Lotion to help combat dry skin on your whole body.

Jojoba Company: Add a few drops into your favorite facial or body moisturizer. It’s also great for dry, cracked cuticles, knees, elbows and lips.

Hale & Hush: Add Soothe Essence Serum under your moisturizer for an extra boost of hydration and Hush Hydrate for a lighter moisturizer.

NeoGenesis: Try Intensive Moisturizer, which is deeply hydrating for those who need extra moisture, and a Stem Cell Facial Mist for an extra dose of hydration before moisturizing.

Cleansers from Hale and Hush and NeoGenesis can be used not only on the face but for the whole body. Additional products from each line will help calm, sooth and hydrate your parched, winter skin.

10. Additional Products – Many of these items can be found at local stores or online.

Amazon: 100% natural bamboo washcloths (Lucylla is one brand on Amazon); Innerneed silicone facial brushes (pack of four antibacterial silicone skin-friendly brushes); Ieasky silicone body brush with long handle – silicone brushes are gentle, easy to clean, quick drying and more hygienic than brushes made from other materials; Love, Lori Shower foot cleaner and massager; Luter 3-pairs of lightweight white cotton gloves; Mulberry 100% silk pillowcase; SoulBee honey powder; Now brand powdered buttermilk; Now brand turbinado sugar (good to use for sugar scrubs).

Amope: Gentle electronic foot file.

Bel Mondo: Moisture renewal facial sheet mask.

BodyCeuticals: Skin line based on the calendula plant; lip balms, body oils and hydrating mists.

EcoTools: Body brushes for dry brushing; foot and pumice brushes.

ZAQ Company: Rose quartz and jade rollers; organic body oils and silicone facial brush.

11. Make Your Own homemade hydrating body butter, sugar scrub or organic oats (a gentle exfoliate) using these recipes and safety tips. Oils, sugar, powdered milk and empty ball jars to use for homemade products can be purchased at Fruitful Yield or suggestions listed above.