So, my father blessed me with his oily, cystic-acne prone facial skin and my mother blessed me with her dry, eczematous body skin. For me, winter is all about super intensive moisturization, but you can tone down my plan to fit your life and your skin needs.
Disclaimer: I am not a board certified dermatologist. This is not medical advice.
[ 1 ] The Crew
- Water: The first step to keeping skin cells plump and hydrated is to provide them with water - from the inside and outside. Dr. Lancer (Beyonce and Kim Kardashian's dermatologist) recommends drinking 2.5 L of water a day! I make a habit to have at least two glasses of water before my first cup of coffee. In the winter, non-caffeinated tea (such as peppermint) is one of my favorite ways to stay hydrated. Breaking news! I just learned that although they do have a mild diuretic effect, caffeinated drinks are still hydrating (mayo clinic article).
- Exfoliant: Exfoliation removes the top most layer of dead skin and allows hydrating products to penetrate the healthy skin underneath. Exfoliation is a key step to skin hydration and should not be skipped! I prefer a chemical exfoliant for my face (because I find them to be more effective and gentler) and a physical exfoliant for my body (because they're cheaper). For my body, I just use a soft wash cloth. Nothing fancy. Avoid exfoliating any actively inflamed areas of skin.
- Body cream or lotion: Body creams are thicker and more moisturizing than lotions, so they are my preference. I currently rotate between vanicream, CeraVe and Cetaphil without any preference (honestly whichever free sample I have lying around). There are higher end body creams, such as L'occitane Shea Butter Ultra Rich Body Cream and Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Body Butter. I've tried both at Sephora and my hands have never felt softer, but I'm not sure they're worth the steep price difference. If you've compared the higher and lower end creams, I'd love to hear your opinion! Moisturizing ingredients to look for include ceramides, linoleic acid, phytosterols, and shea butter.
- Ointment or oil: Without a question, Vaseline (name brand) is my favorite beauty product. I use it on my body, my lips before bed, my eyelids to remove eye makeup, and even under my eyes as an eye cream sometimes! If you can't stand the consistency of Vaseline, Aquaphor is a slightly less moisturizing ointment that many beauty people swear by. You can also use a number of different body oils instead of an ointment.
- Essential oil: I like to add peppermint to my routine if I'm getting ready for bed or a Netflix and home spa party for one.
[ 2 ] The Routine
This is the routine that my favorite pediatric dermatologist at Emory recommends to all of her eczema patients. Alex makes fun of me whenever I do it and calls me his "little eczema baby." haha. behind the scenes of two future dermatologists in love. but seriously - your skin will be so soft! This can be done anytime of the day, but my favorite times are before bed and on chill Saturday afternoons that I plan on staying in and cleaning (watching Netflix).
- Shower + exfoliate + shave. Take a short, luke warm shower. I use dove body wash and a wash cloth for exfoliation. I don't like body washes that have exfoliating beads in them because sometimes the beads are really harsh! You can get a nice, gentle exfoliation by using a soft wash cloth to lightly rub over the skin, covering each area a few times. Shaving also helps to exfoliate.
- Dab off excess water with a soft towel leaving some moisture on the skin
- If you use any prescription steroid therapy for you skin, apply to affected areas only.
- Apply body cream to entire body within 3 minutes of exiting shower- it will take longer than usual to rub in because your skin is moist. Be patient and be gentle (with yourself, always). Don't rub aggressively! Sometimes I'm lazy and only partially rub in before going to the next step.
- Apply desired thickness of ointment to lock in moisture. If I'm planning to put on real clothes, I'll do a light layer because it's impossible to get dressed when layered in Vaseline. If I'm going to bed or staying in the house, I lay in on thick. I like to add peppermint oil to the Vaseline if I'm going to bed because it's very soothing.
- Cover skin. I use long sleeve cotton pajamas + gloves. If you want to get really intense, you can use saran wrap)
Hand moisture: I apply lotion to my hands maybe ten times a day. Hand dermatitis is very common in the healthcare setting because of the frequent hand washing and harsh alcohol based cleansers. I also really like argan oil for cuticle health. I apply this one from Josie Maran to my hair and then rub the excess into my hands and cuticles.
Allergy testing: With anything that you put on your body, I recommend testing it in a smaller area first before applying it to your entire body to make sure you're not allergic. It is possible to develop an allergy to a product that you use regularly (I think I've tragically developed an allergy to black hair dye), so always keep an eye out for things that make you itch or rash!