Dry skin

If you live in a dry climate, as I do, winter doesn’t just mean snowflakes, snow boots, and cartons of eggnog hitting the shelves, it also means the arrival of dry, itchy, scaly skin. Having survived several winters in an arid climate, I’ve devised these foolproof DIY ideas to prevent you from scratching off your dry skin. You’re welcome!

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1. Tackle Dry Skin From the Inside Out

Dry skin
Adding healthy oils to your diet can help dry, flaky skin. Image courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski (Flickr)

I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage about skin being the body’s largest organ? Well, it’s true, the average person’s skin would cover 21 feet if stretched out. That’s a lot of ground to cover! And because it’s an organ, your skin can be greatly affected by what you eat — or don’t eat. This means that a diet lacking in vitamins and minerals can leave your skin depleted, irritated, or dry. But it also means that you can have a huge impact on how moisture-rich your skin feels simply by changing what you put in your body, not just what you put on it.

Adjusting your diet to include more healthy oils like olive, avocado, and flaxseed will do a lot to increase the soft and itch-free feel of your skin. Olive oil, for example, contains antioxidants that work to reduce inflammation and disarm free radicals. If you’re worried that these powerhouse oils are lacking in your diet, consider taking a supplement like Udo’s Oil 3-6-9 Blend from Udo’s Choice. It’s an amazing blend of essential fatty acids sourced from flax, sesame, and sunflower oils. Your dry skin will start feeling richer in just a few days.

2. Drink More Water

Well, duh, right? I know this may seem like a no-brainer, but even if you drink water throughout the day, other beverages like soda and coffee act as diuretics, which contribute to dehydration. Studies have recently debunked the “eight glasses of water a day” rule that we all used to swear by, so there’s no need to be counting cups consumed. But an extra sip or two definitely couldn’t hurt!

And one more thing — don’t turn your nose up at tap water! Numerous studies have shown it to be just as pure (if not more so) than the bottled water allegedly right from the glacier’s mouth, and at 1/1,000th of the price. You can skip the plastic bottle — and the waste and expense, too. Simply use a cup or take a reusable water bottle with you in your purse or backpack.

3. Take Care of Skin Topically

Winter is the time to truly pamper your skin, but don’t go jumping in the shower and lathering up your loofah just yet. Showering too frequently and using harsh soaps or body washes can really dry out the skin. Most commercial soaps have a detergent base. This strips moisture-making lipids from our skin, leaving that uncomfortable, too-tight feeling after we towel off. To prevent this, limit showers to every other day (great for conserving water, too). And switch to a natural soap found at a farmers market or health food store. (You may notice that many natural soaps are made with a base of olive oil or coconut oil, those same oils you were encouraged to eat more of in step one!)

Slather your skin in coconut oil as soon as you get out of the shower. Coconut oil’s small molecular structure allows it to be easily absorbed by the skin. And its solid-at-room-temperature state allows for easy application. Just scoop out a grape-sized dollop and gently massage it into your skin. Repeat as necessary until you’ve covered all 21 square feet of your skin.

Follow up with a rich homemade lotion for any stubborn patches of dry skin about a half-hour later. Check out this fantastic recipe for a rich DIY body cream with only three ingredients! You’ll be nourishing your skin without any petroleum-based ingredients or harmful chemical fragrances.

4. Address Your Environment

Dry skin
Image courtesy of Sharyn Morrow (Flickr)

Chances are, if your skin is dry, the air in your home is, too. Try to restore as much moisture into your home as possible by having lots of real plants, using your stovetop rather than your oven for cooking, and opening your shower door wide after you shower. Using a drying rack is a fantastic one-two punch of saving energy by skipping the clothes dryer, while also allowing much-needed moisture to evaporate back into the air. It’s actually kind of alarming how quickly my clothes dry here, even indoors!

5. Get Your DIY On!

I love being creative and finding unique ways to tackle problems. Here are some amazing DIY ideas for making homemade humidifiers — you know, ones that won’t get all gunky and end up spewing germs all over your house!

Bowls of Water on Radiators

The most basic of the DIY solutions — sitting a few bowls or glasses of water on top of radiators — helps the sitting water evaporate into the air. I have forced air in my house, but I still put a few bowls in front of heat registers in the hopes that it’s helping a bit. It couldn’t hurt, anyway (and my toddler daughter enjoys finding these little “pools” for her toys to swim in, too!).

A Slightly More MacGyver’d Option

This is the same idea as hanging clothes to dry indoors, but with a longer humidifying life. Rig up a small hand towel so that one end sits in a medium-sized bowl of water. The water will wick up the towel where it then evaporates into the air, providing a constant source of humidity. Warning: You might get some strange looks from guests!

The Cadillac of DIY Humidifiers

This DIY sponge humidifier idea looks pretty slick, but it’s really simple to make and you may have the necessary supplies in your home already! Take a few large sponges (make sure they haven’t been used for cleaning, or you risk spreading germs into the air) and sit them in a large cookie sheet or pan, add some water, and then set a fan on one end of the pan. The air will skim the surface of the sponges and evaporate the water, adding humidity to the air and hopefully easing your dry skin just a little.

Get cracking on these five tips and you’ll have soft, happy, and nourished skin this winter — regardless of how long it lasts!

Feature image courtesy of Ryan Cadby (Flickr

Editor’s note: Originally published on February 12, 2016, this article was updated in February 2019.

By Madeleine Somerville

Madeleine Somerville is the author of All You Need Is Less: An Eco-Friendly Guide to Guilt-Free Green Living and Stress-Free Simplicity. She is a writer, wannabe hippie and lover of soft cheeses. She lives in Edmonton, Canada, with her daughter. You can also find Madeleine at her blog, Sweet Madeleine.