Last week, we talked about how showers tend to dry out the skin, especially at this time of year. It is recommended that you slather on some moisturizer within three minutes of your shower to prevent the loss of your own natural oils and to protect the skin throughout the day. But what to use? You might be surprised.
There are generally four categories of moisturizers: balms/ointments, oils, creams and lotions. Lotions are the most popular of all the moisturizers. The reason is that they contain alcohol, which keeps them from being too greasy. They absorb easily into the skin and generally leave little to no residue. These lotions are not the best solution for dry skin, however – the alcohol (the ingredient that makes it so popular) counteracts the moisturizing ingredients! Further, many popular lotions today are rated a 5 or above at the EWG’s Skin Deep Database.
Take a hugely popular product, Lubriderm’s Daily Moisture Lotion. Check out this list of ingredients:
WATER, MINERAL OIL, PETROLATUM, SORBITOL SOLUTION, STEARIC ACID, LANOLIN, LANOLIN ALCOHOL, CETYL ALCOHOL, GLYCERYL STEARATE/PEG-100 STEARATE, TRIETHANOLAMINE, DIMETHICONE, PROPYLENE GLYCOL, MICROCRYSTALLINE WAX, TRI CITRATE PPG-3 MYRISTYL ETHER, DIMETHICONE EDTA, METHYLPARABEN, ETHYLPARABEN, PROPYLPARABEN, FRAGRANCE, XANTHAN GUM, BUTYLPARABEN, METHYLDIBROMO GLUTARONITRILE
Are there enough petroleum-based ingredients and parabens in here for ya? LOL! According to the EWG, this product is rated a whopping 7 (out of 10). They list the following as high level concerns: Endocrine disruption, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Contamination concerns.
Lubriderm is not alone in this. Go check out the Skin Deep Database and see where you lotion rates. You might be unpleasantly surprised!
The second most popular moisturizer is the cream. These are very much like lotions in that they absorb very easily and don’t leave a lot of residue. Why? You guessed it – most of these have some form of alcohol in them! These seem to have a lower rating on Skin Deep (lower is good!), but if you look at the ingredients in these products (Eucerin Cream, Neutrogena Hand Cream, etc.), they are, like lotions, made from petroleum-based products and are full of parabens. Not good!
The next category is oils. This is a great way to moisturize, but as you can imagine, many people don’t like to use oils because of the residue. However, this is a far more natural way to moisturize – assuming you are using a pure oil, that is! (Stay away from mineral oil and anything containing it!) My recommendation would be to use sweet almond oil, grape seed oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, etc. You don’t need a lot – a little goes a long way. Rub it into still-damp skin right after your shower.
And if you really need some help for super dry skin, the BEST thing you can use is an oil- and wax-based balm. I think many people cringe when they hear this because we’ve been taught that waxes and oils clog our pores. But these are natural products and they know how to interact with our skin – and vice versa. Oils enhance our skin’s natural moisture and wax seals that moisture in, protecting us for hours after application. In my personal line, I use Coconut Vanilla Bean Balm (or the Tonka Balm) as a body moisturizer and for my face, I use Flower Balm in the morning and Flower Elixir at night (to give my skin some “breathing room” while I sleep). I’ve been doing this for two years now and I believe it has truly healed my skin from years of treating it with benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.
If you want to make your own, I highly recommend using organic oils and combine them with a semi-solid butter – cocoa butter and shea butter are my favorites. I also recommend beeswax for the skin, though candelilla wax is another favorite of mine and is plant-based for all you vegans out there. If you prefer to buy them, make sure to look for a list of all-natural ingredients. Balms do not need preservatives or petroleum-based products or parabens or any other such nonsense!
Yes, oils and balms leave more of a residue, it’s true. This is why they are the least popular moisturizers despite their efficacy. There is a simple remedy for this, however. First of all, only apply a little at a time. You will find that you do not need nearly as much of these products as you would need of lotions or creams. Secondly, you can use a dry washcloth to blot off the excess. Make sure you give your skin a few minutes to truly absorb the oils/balms before you blot – this will help a lot, as well.
What kinds of moisturizers have you found to work the best on your skin?