Winter weather, bad beauty habits and medical conditions like eczema can all contribute to dry, rough, itchy and flaking skin. During this time of the year we are either exposed to chilly winds outside or heated rooms indoors, and most people, myself included, start to experience the side effects. This is when I basically bathe in thick, luxurious, ultra nourishing body lotions and butters to keep my skin in tip top shape.
How to treat dry skin
If you suffer from dry skin it is important to protect your skin barrier – the top, protective layer – as best you can. Avoid harsh soaps that can strip your natural skin oils, don’t shower or bathe with very hot water, and don’t use scrubbing brushes, sponges or towels that can cause friction and damage. Be as gentle as possible.
You also want a moisturiser that will prevent water loss, boost hydration, and nourish your skin with the right ingredients. A good moisturiser will create a film over the skin’s surface that prevents water from escaping, rehydrate your stratum corneum, enforce your skin barrier, and alleviate tightness and irritation.
What to look for in your moisturiser
These create a film over your skin to prevent water from evaporating. You get various types of occlusive ingredients. Petrolatum or petrolium jelly is the most common occlusive ingredient (also found as mineral oil or paraffin liquidum), and a very effective one at that. Others include squalene, beeswax, cetyl alcohol, silicones (dimethicone), stearic acid, stearyl stearate and lanolin.
Humectants have the ability to attract water molecules from the environment and hold it, thereby creating a reservoir for your skin. Urea, hyaluronic acid, panthenol, glycerine (or glycerol) and Lactic Acid are all examples of humectants. You want the right balance of humectants. If your glycerine content is too high, for instance, the moisturiser can feel sticky or damp on your skin.
Lipids are essentially natural fats that help to protect your skin barrier, hold moisture and assist with repair. Keeping your skin barrier healthy is essential since a broken barrier will lose moisture faster and your skin will be more prone to irritation.
The main types of lipids are cholesterol, ceramides and fatty acids. Cholesterol helps to give skin a healthy appearance; essential fatty acids like omega-3s and 6s help to build healthy cell membranes and keep your skin plump; and ceramides help with water retention, while replenishing and restoring the skin.
Natural Moisturising Factors work with naturally-occurring lipids in the skin to keep the surface supple and smooth. NMFs include amino acids, lactic acid, sodium PCA, various sugars, minerals and peptides.
A few of my favourites to try:
Epimax Cream Emollient Moisturiser
R65 for 400g, epimax.co.za
This is still one of the best budget-friendly options. It has a rich texture and comforting, creamy consistency that leaves your skin feeling smooth and intensely nourished, but not overly greasy. It contains glycerine and urea which attracts and holds water. Urea also helps the skin to shed dead, scaly skin to leave it softened and smooth.
I also love the fact that it is fragrance free, making it suitable for sensitive skins. Oh, and did I mention they are a local brand?
Dove DermaSpa Cashmere Comfort Body Butter
R129,99 for 300ml
Dove has just introduced their new DermaSpa range of body products and so far I love everything I’ve tried. This Body Butter is particularly brilliant for the winter months. It has this soft, decadently creamy scent and a rich, silky consistency that spreads easily and absorbs quickly. While using it my skin felt comfortable and nourished throughout the day, without any heavy or greasy residue.
NIVEA Body Oil-in-Lotion Vanilla & Almond Oil
R47,99 for 400ml
I have a soft spot for Nivea body lotions. It was the first brand I fell in love with as a teen and I still enjoy slathering on their Rich Nourishing Body Moisturiser during the dry winter months. This month they’ve introduced their new Oil in Lotion range, offering rich care with almond and jojoba oil, and lovely fragrances.
I really enjoyed their Vanilla & Almond Oil variant. It has a soft, vanilla scent with a hint of rose and warm bergamot. The lotion itself spreads and absorbs easily, and it kept my skin comfortable and hydrated all day.
Eucerin UreaRepair Plus 5% Urea Lotion
R169,95 for 250ml, Clicks and Dis-Chem
This body lotion was specifically developed for people suffering from extremely dry, rough and tight skin. The lotion binds moisture to the skin with 5% Urea, and a Natural Moisturizing Factor complex that supports your skin barrier. They’ve also added Ceramide 3 to support your barrier and reduce moisture loss, and Gluco-Glycerol that helps to distribute moisture to the deeper skin layers.
While this lotion is intensely hydrating, it still has a lightweight, non-greasy feel and it absorbs quickly and easily into my skin. It is also completely fragrance free, making it suitable for sensitive skin types and people who suffer from conditions like atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and diabetes.
If you need even more intensive TLC, you can try the UreaRepair PLUS Lotion 10% Urea, which contains 10% Urea as well as ceramides and natural moisturising factors.
Optiphi Evergreen Body Lotion
R396 for 250ml, skinmiles.com
This body lotion works to replenish your skin’s natural moisture reservoir. It contains allantoin, a brilliant moisturising and skin calming ingredient. They’ve also added Imperata Cylindrica Extract that is said to moisturise and protect your skin barrier, and bamboo, which they say conditions and protects your skin.
I think this body lotion is totally delicious. It is has a light, silky consistency that absorbs quickly, leaving your skin feeling soft and smooth. It doesn’t feel sticky or greasy at all, and it kept my skin nourished and supple while using it.
What is your favourite moisturiser for the winter months? Pop your recommendations in the comments section below, I would love to hear from you.