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9 Eco-Friendly Remedies and Preventatives for Dry Skin

Health + Wellness
 Woman With Eyes Closed Applying Moisturizer While Standing Outdoors During Winter
Javier Sánchez Mingorance / EyeEm / Getty Images

As winter comes around, many people begin to suffer from the dreaded chapped lips and dry, flaky skin. The instinct is to slather on the first lip balm or moisturizer you can find, but all those little plastic tubes and tubs add up. While you shouldn't neglect these products to keep your skin from cracking and hurting from the harsh weather, there are some ways to soothe your skin that are natural and sustainable. From staying hydrated to limiting those steaming hot showers, here are some eco-friendly remedies and preventatives for dry skin.


1. Limit Hot Showers

It's tempting to stand under some scalding hot water, letting the steam dance around you. But that feeling is only good for the time you're in the shower. Hot showers can actually make dry skin worse, so stick to warm water instead. Plus, keep showers to 5 or 10 minutes to preserve water.

"Keep in mind that long, hot showers can cause skin dryness and irritation. Keep it short, and don't be afraid to take a cold shower," Dr. Alain Michon, Medical Director at the Ottawa Skin Clinic, told EcoWatch.

2. Drink Plenty of Water

It's easy to get enough water in the summertime, when all you want to do is drink glass after glass of ice-cold H20. But in the winter, you're probably looking for whatever hot beverage you can find, whether that's a sugary hot chocolate or some mulled wine. Don't forget to drink water, too. If you're feeling cold, warm up with hot water and lemon to get that hydration and stay warm.

3. Eat a Balanced Diet

While you shouldn't skip out on your favorite cookies or holiday pies, also enjoy your favorite fruits and veggies all season long, too. A balanced diet will help improve your health inside and out, and skin really benefits from nutrient-dense foods.

"Adding foods rich in antioxidants to your everyday diets, such as berries, kale, and pecans can also help skin health," Dr. Michon explained.

4. Bundle Up

Grabbing a shovel to clear the sidewalk or going to scrape the frost off your car's windshield? Even if you think it'll take a couple minutes, grab your gloves and other cold-weather gear. Winter air is cold and dry. If the wind is blowing, too, it can be extra harsh on your skin. Bundling up with gloves, scarves, coats, and hats will protect your skin from becoming chafed from the bitter air.

5. Wear Natural Fibers

Synthetic fabrics can irritate your skin and make dry skin even more aggravated. Stick to organic cotton and other soft, natural fibers. If you want to wear wool, which can be scratchy despite being a natural textile, layer a softer shirt beneath it.

6. Watch for Products With Fragrance

You may consider swapping out your personal care products in the cooler months. Fragrances can further irritate dry skin, so find moisturizers, lotions, soaps, and other products specifically labeled fragrance-free. Skip options labeled as unscented.

"Unscented doesn't necessarily mean that it doesn't have fragrance," said Dr. Dawn Davis, a dermatologist at Mayo Clinic. "Oftentimes unscented just means more chemicals."

Those chemicals, which may be used to mask the natural odors of ingredients in the product to make it unscented, can just dry skin out more.

7. Use Natural Moisturizers

Moisturizers help retain your skin's moisture levels, so it's best to apply them right after bathing or washing your hands. Choose a moisturizer that is cruelty-free and made with natural ingredients, like shea butter, coconut oil or jojoba oil. You get bonus points for finding skincare products packaged in reusable or recyclable glass jars.

8. Wear SPF

Yes, you still need SPF in the winter. Even when the weather outside is frightful, you should be applying protection against harmful UV rays for a number of reasons, including soothing your skin.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, you should use broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30.

For more sustainable sunscreen, choose a reef-safe option. To make sure your sunscreen is reef-safe, make sure the ingredients list doesn't include anything on the HEL List, including:

  • Any nanoparticles like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
  • Oxybenzone
  • Octinoxate
  • 4-methylbenzylidene camphor
  • Octocrylene
  • Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)
  • Methyl Paraben
  • Ethyl Paraben
  • Propyl Paraben
  • Butyl Paraben
  • Benzyl Paraben
  • Triclosan
  • Microbeads

9. Exfoliate

Exfoliation can help remove dry, dead skin cells to reduce itchiness and irritation. But it's important to exfoliate gently. Scrubbing too hard or using harsh exfoliators can damage skin, making you more uncomfortable.

"If you use a scrub or chemical exfoliator, apply the product gently using small, circular motions. Do this for about 30 seconds, and then rinse off with lukewarm — not hot — water," the American Academy of Dermatology Association advises. "If you use a brush or sponge, use short light strokes. Never exfoliate if you have open cuts or wounds or if your skin is sunburned."

Follow up with your moisturizer for soft, smooth, and hydrated skin.

Based in Los Angeles, Paige is a writer who is passionate about sustainability. Aside from writing for EcoWatch, Paige also writes for Insider, HomeAdvisor, Thrillist, EuroCheapo, Eat This, Not That!, and more. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Ohio University and holds a certificate in Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She also specialized in sustainable agriculture while pursuing her undergraduate degree. When she's not writing, Paige enjoys decorating her apartment, enjoying a cup of coffee and experimenting in the kitchen (with local, seasonal ingredients, of course!).

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