5 Natural Ways to Keep Your Skin Moisturized in the Winter
There's no shortage of moisturizers available in stores that are advertised as panaceas for dry skin. Especially at this time of year, when winter makes your skin more susceptible to itching, flaking and cracking, it can be tempting to load up on those little (but expensive!) bottles and jars that promise special benefits for every part of the body from the feet to the delicate tissue around the eyes.
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The fact is that when you pay $40 for a half ounce of moisturizer, you're mostly paying for a lot of fancy packaging and marketing, including the cost of the supermodel spokeswoman in the Vogue Magazine ads. It gets worse when a cosmetics company is pushing different potions for day and night, for the face, eyes, lips, neck, body and feet. That really adds up—which is exactly what that company is counting on. In addition, many of those products are nothing more than concoctions of who-knows-what-they-are chemicals, including some linked to health problems such as allergies, fertility issues and even cancer. But you can get the same moisturizing action without the health risks by turning to some low-cost, natural solutions.
1. Natural oils. You'll find bottles of pure, natural oils such as grapeseed, almond and jojoba oil at many health food stores. Usually those bottles are plain and basic-looking, but they don't contain extra chemicals and they offer the same moisturizing benefits as those expensive, fabricated moisturizers. And you're getting a lot more product for that money. Some of them claim to have anti-oxidant and antibacterial properties that can repair your skin's collagen, the same assertion made by some of the high-priced name brands. Whether that's actually true or not is hard to say, but with a $10 or $15 bottle of natural oil, you're spending a lot less to find out. And there's no denying these oils soften your skin, provide a protective barrier against wind and cold weather, and smell nice without any of that mysterious artificial "fragrance" that pops up in so many beauty products.
2. Olive oil. If you really want to save money or just don't have time to get to the store, you can find a soothing oil right on your kitchen shelf. Olive oil is a great natural moisturizer that can be used to soften your skin or condition your fly-away, winter-ravaged hair. It also has anti-inflammatory properties which can soothe reddened skin and some types of outbreaks and rashes; there have been claims it can protect against skin cancer. We'd still advise using a sunblock or covering your face if you're going skiing or tobogganing.
3. Shea butter. You've probably heard a lot about shea butter in recent years. It's been cropping up in body washes, bath soaks, hand lotions, shampoos and other beauty products. Its use for beauty care goes back to ancient Egypt so despite its newfound popularity, it's nothing new at all. It's particularly popular in products for African-American women, which is no accident. Shea butter is a fat extracted from the nut of the shea tree found primarily in Africa where it's long been used to treat dry, sore skin, among other purposes. Shea butter melts at skin temperature so it's easily absorbed, and it contains vitamin A, which is beneficial in repairing parched, cracked skin. Be careful what you buy though. Since it's used as the basis for many beauty products which can also contain a variety of added chemical compounds, you'll want to get as pure a version as possible, or one that only has natural additives such as herbs, and no artificial fragrance or coloring.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
4. Edible remedies. Your kitchen rivals the department store counter in abounding with dry skin treatments—cheaper and more healthful ones too. Some of the things that boost your skin's health and appearance from the inside also do so when applied on the outside. A couple of the best are honey and milk-based products including yogurt and cream. When added to your tea, honey acts as an antibacterial and antioxidant to boost your immune system and fight off seasonal bugs. When slathered onto your body and face, left on for about ten minutes and showered off, it offers unparalleled softness and smoothness. Yogurt is also an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that can take the edge off itchiness and loosen the tightness you feel when your skin dries out. As with honey, rub it in, let it soak in and rinse it off. You can mix and match these edible ingredients along with others such as cream, avocado and oatmeal to create a personal solution to your skin's particular needs.
5. Water! Boost the effects of any of these natural skin treatments by making sure that your skin gets enough moisture inside and out. This isn't the time to slack off on drinking plenty of water even though you might not feel as thirsty as you do in the summer. And take care of the dry air in your house by placing pans of water in strategic locations such as heating/air vents and radiators.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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