Winter Skin
December 10, 2003 8:40 AM   Subscribe

It's indoor heating season for many of us. Has anyone conquered really dry skin? How? I'm dying here!
posted by Mayor Curley to Health & Fitness (32 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Lotion, my boy. Lots and lots of lotion.
posted by COBRA! at 8:40 AM on December 10, 2003

Response by poster: Obviously, I've dealt with this before, but never effectively. My doctor went to the Romanowski school of medicine and always prescribes some sort of steroid. I'd like to avoid it, so I don't want to ask him yet. Here are the (tasteful) specifics:

I generally shower twice a day. I can relucutantly change that if it might be a major cause. Right now I slather myself with Eucerin immediately after a shower and any other time that I think of it. I use unscented detergent and glycerin soap. I still itch like a mofo, especially on my back and arms. Anything else I should be doing?
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:41 AM on December 10, 2003

Nivea for men's Daily Protective Lotion. If you don't have a problem using regular Nivea, use that. Or have your SO get you a cocoa butter jar or bottle.
posted by riffola at 8:43 AM on December 10, 2003

We moved to Colorado a few months ago, and it is Damned Dry here. I mean really dry.

I tend to use a shea butter-based lotion for my hands, which get very dry and generally unsightly. For me, the simple lotions like Vaseline Intensive Care are like water - they feel good for 2 seconds and then peeter out. And some are the opposite: far too thick.

I say: shea butter.

(Hi, by the way. It's been a while.)
posted by hijinx at 8:45 AM on December 10, 2003

if dr. hauschka ever stops making their rose day cream, i'll have to kill myself. my skin is dry and super fussy and the rose day cream is fabulous!
posted by heather at 8:58 AM on December 10, 2003

Shower in the coolest water you can tolerate -- hot water will dry out your skin fast. Also, exfoliate in the shower if you don't already, with one of those scrubby deals. Lubriderm is my lotion of choice, I find Nivea products to be a bit on the greasy side, but that's just me.

Drinking more water ought to help too.
posted by contessa at 9:01 AM on December 10, 2003

I'm actually quite curious about this myself; after moving from a wet climate (in which I had lived most of my life) to a really dry climate, some of the dfferences don't actually seem quite fair. And now that I'm here, I have the same experience as hijinx: "simple lotions like Vaseline Intensive Care are like water ". And, for me, as far as the "far too thick" ones; some lotions seem horribly, nastily thick and uncomfortable when I try them, but nothing lasts more than a few hours. Basically, nothing really moisturizes. I'm dry! (so what is "shea butter" - and how would I ask for that in Greece?)
posted by taz at 9:08 AM on December 10, 2003

Stop showering and drink lots and lots of water. Is there any such thing as 'moisturizing'? I've always assumed lotion just creates a barrier on your skin so it doesn't lose more than it's already lost, and that you can only replace the water by imbibing. Vaseline would probably work better than anything else.
posted by sudama at 9:12 AM on December 10, 2003

Yes, drink lots of water.
I've had fairly good luck using a variety of Kiehl's products. There is a retail store on the pricey end of Newbury Street or you can order online. FYI, Kiehl's was sold to L'Oreal a few years ago but they still make decent products.
posted by anathema at 9:13 AM on December 10, 2003

Response by poster: These are all very good directions! Thanks!

As for water, getting enough is probably important, but LOTS doesn't seem to have any bearing-- I drink six liters a day during the week because I'm afraid of kidney stones. But then again, who knows had bad the skin would be if I didn't.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:24 AM on December 10, 2003

Those of us with forced-air heat insist on one of these, or similar.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:43 AM on December 10, 2003

as far as the itching goes ... we had this problem one winter where we had radiators we could not turn off. one temporary solution is to make oatmeal sachets to put in your bath with you [this does necessitate a bath but I think you can also scrub with them]. The oatmeal is a bit on the messy side but it really did seem to help some of the dry skin itching. Basically you take some oatmeal, grind it fine, stick it in a sock, use it as a scrubber in the bath. it can be a bit messy, be forewarned. here are some commercial products along the same lines and some other tips.
posted by jessamyn at 9:49 AM on December 10, 2003

Google defines "shea butter." Just for you, taz.
posted by hijinx at 9:51 AM on December 10, 2003

see, this is where having girls on MeFi comes in handy :)
posted by contessa at 9:53 AM on December 10, 2003

I also moved from semi-tropical to cold (plus being half-S Italian) and here's what I've learned:

Do you really need to shower twice a day? That will really dry out your skin - you're washing off your skin's natural oils. I skip a day if I can and it's made a world of difference. And like others said, don't use really hot water.

Liquid soaps seem to be less harsh on skin. Or use Dove or something like that if you need to use bars (if you're in the US).

When you use moisturizer, make sure you put it on right after your shower before you're completely dry (not wet or anything, but as soon as you towel off).

Good luck!
posted by evening at 10:05 AM on December 10, 2003

thanks, hijinx! I finally figured out that it's "boutero apo shea tree" - or "butter from shea tree". Hm. Gee, who'd have ever figured that one out? Now... finding an outlet might be interesting. We'll see.
posted by taz at 10:17 AM on December 10, 2003

One word: LancĂ´me
posted by the fire you left me at 10:19 AM on December 10, 2003

I too am in itchy agony, but am reluctant to use lotion because I can't stand the greasy feeling. (In fact, I'd much rather be itchy than greasy) No matter how much I rub it in, I always feel like there's a film over me. Over the years, plenty of people have said, "Here, try this lotion. It's not greasy at all," but it never works. Is there any better alternative, or am I doomed to be dry and itchy?
posted by emptybowl at 11:05 AM on December 10, 2003

emptybowl, take a bath in a tub filled with milk. I bet it helps ;)
posted by riffola at 11:08 AM on December 10, 2003

Bag balm.
posted by tr33hggr at 11:23 AM on December 10, 2003

Udderly Smooth Udder Cream is good too t33hggr. Burts Bees Carrot Nutritive lotion and Hand Salve are my favorites at the moment. The hand salve is a little greasy if you put too much on, but if you use it at night, it's great.
posted by greengrl at 11:28 AM on December 10, 2003

absolutely nothing worked for me and i tried everything. finally i went to a healthfood store and purchased a small bottle of straight vegetable glycerin (not soap, just glycerin). i took it home and mixed some of it with water (more water less glycerin) and put it into a little spray bottle i purchased at the grocery store. after i shower i spray a fine mist all over my body and rub it around. it only feels like extra water on my skin and it has no scent. i was skeptical, but it worked immediately. i am now using this instead of pricey prescription lotions the doctor recommended. you can add or subtract the amount of glycerin in the water depending on how dry your skin is.
this is the kind of glycerin i purchased: vegetable glycerin. it is nontoxic and safe. you can add a little fragrance too. this is what the manufacturers put into lotion to keep your skin hydrated anyway.
posted by alicila at 11:56 AM on December 10, 2003

Thanks Mayor for asking: Thanks alicila for your solution.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:18 PM on December 10, 2003

There are oil-less lotions, unfortunately, I can't remember any names, and I've got to go. You can try searching them, or go to an archival library, and ask the workers. Anyone who has to work with old paper will know of a few oil-less lotions, because the papers are dry and fragile, and the oil in a normal lotion would kill the paper. If not, I'll post some when I get back.
posted by stoneegg21 at 1:28 PM on December 10, 2003

greengrl - I luuuuv Burt's Bees Carrot lotion. Didn't even think about that one! Good call.
posted by tr33hggr at 1:56 PM on December 10, 2003

I wouldn't put anything on my skin that I couldn't eat, since skin absorbs anything you put on it. So I use organic virgin coconut oil...smells divine, and makes skin baby butt soft all over. I also make smoothies and salad dressing with it. Gotta love those multi-tasking food products.

"It's a dessert topping!"
"No, it's a floor wax!" *

* reference to very old SNL skit.
posted by iconomy at 2:04 PM on December 10, 2003

emptybowl: I find that if I put lotion on "dry" skin (skin that has dried out too much after the last washing) then the lotion feels oily. If I put it on before my skin has a chance to dry out then it feels great. If I wait too long I feel like a grease ball. My current theory is that my skin recognizes that it's dry and sends a message to the oil glands, and then I put the lotion over that. This traps the skin oil close to the skin, so really it's your own oil that makes the lotion feel oily.
Anyway, I could just be over analyzing this, but I only pat dry and then moisturize while still quite damp. This technique has taken care of my (minor) facial acne as well
posted by nprigoda at 4:04 PM on December 10, 2003

I use Avon's Silicone Glove Hand cream for my hands, and alternate between Avon's Vita Moist and Burt's Bees Milk & Honey Lotion for my body. I use a Clinique moisturizer on my face when necessary (my face tends to be a bit oily and breakout prone, so I am sparing with the moisturizer). If I had the money, I'd order a jar or two of Sympathy for the Skin from Lush--my girlfriend is super itchy dry skin girl, and swears by the stuff, and it smells great. When she runs out, she uses Cetaphil.

I find that taking a bath with bath oil helps my legs be a bit less dry, and I use a shower gel from Lush called Skinny Dip that has bits of cocoa butter in it. I don't know if that helps, but it smells yummy.

I tend to get colds in the winter, which means lots and lots of noseblowing, which means that the skin around my nostrils and under my nose gets all red and chapped. The absolute best stuff I have found to deal with that--and which would work on other dry skin issues, too--is Burt's Bees Baby Bee Skin Creme.
posted by eilatan at 5:51 PM on December 10, 2003

As one whose skin is very dry but will not take up oils well, I've found that some of the tips already given are helpful (cooler water, showering less often, using liquid rather than cake washing products). One brand of oil-less moisturizers that I've found satisfying is Kiss My Face (the site has a dealer search, too).

The most useful tip I ever got, though, was from a hospital pharmacist. He said that a product with urea in it will hold actual moisture, not oil, in your skin. His recommendation was the shower/dry-lightly/lotion-immediately practice, and it's made a considerable difference for me.

You'll find ureas under a variety of names (all containing the "urea" root) and rather down towards the end of the ingredient list since it doesn't take much.
posted by salt at 7:31 PM on December 10, 2003

A lot of good suggestions in this thread (don't shower so much, use cooler water, use a liquid soap) so I'll just kick in my products. I use Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream on my hands. They aren't kidding: a dab will heal the dry skin, and it will stay moisturized for hours (until the next time you wash your hands, and maybe after, depending on how vigorous a hand-washer you are).

Neutrogena makes good products; when it starts snowing here you can't find the product on the shelf. The foot cream is the same thing, more or less, only thicker. Good for dry, itchy feet.

I also wear Chapstick all the time. It will help protect your lips from the cold when you go outside, and will help them stay moisturized the rest of the time.
posted by somethingotherthan at 8:57 PM on December 10, 2003

Oh, yes: and if you hate the greasy feeling on your palms when applying lotion, then dab the lotion on the back of one hand and rub it in with the back of another. A quick and easy way to get the lotion on the side of the hand it needs to be.
posted by somethingotherthan at 8:58 PM on December 10, 2003

taz, two different girlfriends of mine have raved about Sisley's Beurre de Karite. Apparently expensive but I can vouch that it was good for their skin.
posted by fuzz at 10:10 PM on December 10, 2003

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