Skin Protection: A Closer Look
Winter is coming (and we’re not talking in a George R.R. Martin kind of way). We’re talking in a chapped lips, cracked hands, dry skin kind of way (although surely, if they weren’t fictional, his characters would encounter these unfortunate experiences on The Wall). It’s not the most pleasant feature of the season but it’s inevitable… or is it? This year, we’re thinking- and planning- ahead and seeking preventative measures against winter’s chill and wind. Here are some of our favorite winter-worthy products, all of which are featured prominently in lotions, salves, and balms. (And all of which you can find to custom-blend your very own DIY skin care products!)
Olive/Sweet Almond/Coconut/Rosehip Oils
Olive Oil: Used on skin since ancient times, olive oil has received a lot of press over the last decade for its skin-protecting abilities. It naturally includes three different antioxidants (vitamin E, polyphenols, and phytosterols) and a rather remarkable compound called hydroxytyrosol which sounds like a scary chemical but is actually a pure, inherent, unique part of olive oil which has been shown to prevent free radical damage to skin. It has anti-inflammatory properties, thanks in part to another natural compound called squalene (again: sounds scary, but isn’t), and it works to help rebuild skin’s moisture barrier to prevent loss of moisture. Try applying it straight to your lips instead of chapstick to keep ’em soft and supple.
Sweet Almond Oil: Commonly used in southeast Asia and the Mediterranean, sweet almond oil is really making a name for itself in the skin care world. It’s positively packed with vitamin E (antioxidant superhero), proteins, and monounsaturated fatty acids. Yes that’s right: monounsaturated fats. We all know it’s good to eat these kinds of fats, did you know they’re great for your skin, too? They are natural emollients so they lock moisture in your skin by forming a protective barrier. Like olive oil, it’s also an anti-inflammatory and can be applied straight to your lips for a smooth pucker.
Coconut Oil: In addition to being delicious (and yes, as you might have guessed by this point, it can be applied directly to lips just like olive or sweet almond oil and goodness does it smell amazing!) coconut oil is an incredible skin care option. It has a good amount of medium chain fatty acids which do a superb job of both moisturizing skin and retaining that moisture. It also contains vitamin E and proteins (including palmitic and stearic acids) for antioxidant and cellular health. Seriously, is there anything coconut oil can’t do?
Rosehip Oil: Harvested from the seeds of rose bushes, rosehip seed oil is full of vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids that are known to correct dark spots and hydrate dry, itchy skin, all while reducing scars and fine lines. It’s a kind of miracle worker and can be found in many, many lotions.
Shea Butter: This has been called ‘superfood for the skin’ and for good reason: it’s loaded with vitamins (A, E, and F) which act as antioxidants and acids that contribute multiple important characteristics, like anti-inflammation (cinnamic acids) and skin protection (oleic, stearic, palmitic and linoleic acids). If you don’t add anything else from this list to your winter skin prevention routine, just get this one!
Coconut Butter: Made from the meat or flesh of the coconut, coconut butter differs from coconut oil because it includes the oil (and all its health benefits) as well as all the rest of the meaty material, which means MORE protein and MORE vitamins. See above for all the great things coconut oil can do for your skin and then just multiply.
Beeswax: When you’re looking for a barrier between your delicate skin and the harsh winter weather, beeswax is the man for the job. Considering the word ‘wax’ is in there, that probably seems pretty obvious. But what might not be as obvious it how it acts as a surfactant, protecting the skin while still allowing it to breathe, while also providing anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial benefits. Beeswax is often added to skin care products for these characteristics as well to help thicken the lotion or lip balm.
Essential Oils: These babies run the gamut from promoting blood circulation (geranium) to encouraging new skin cell growth (frankincense) to anti-microbial and -inflammatory powers (rose) to regenerating skin cells (ylang ylang) and more. Each essential oil has its own unique set of skin protection benefits, and of course its own unique fragrance, and the oil(s) you might want to use will probably change over time depending on your changing skin.
Aloe Vera Juice: Aloe vera juice is all the rage right now for vitamin-loaded refreshment and if it’s fantastic on the inside of your body, its also excellent on the outside! Replete with vitamins B, C, and E to hydrate and protect skin with antioxidant powers, some say that aloe juice can penetrate further into the skin than other products, resulting in deeper cell protection.
Vitamin E Oil: Found in just about every product listed above, you can also find vitamin E on its own for straight up skin care. It’s pure skin hydration and antioxidant protection in a little bottle (or little capsules) and just a little bit of this awesome oil goes a long way.
We hope this helps you take a proactive stance against winter weather and may the cold days ahead find your skin ready for the challenge!