The patch of time between summer and the holidays can wreak havoc on hair, skin and nails. The days of sunscreen, swimming pools, salt air and getting a tan are far behind you, and the deep dehydrating cold of winter has set in in full force. If you’re anything like me, your hair and complexion do NOT like this transition, and protest loudly (or should I say visibly) with itchiness, dry spots, flakes, dullness and fly-aways as soon as the heat comes on and the coats come out. I found this twice as challenging immediately post-partum, because it felt like I was working with a different set of skin and hair than I had before Georgia came along! Now, two years out, I’ve accepted the “new reality” and have a system that works for me.
In my experience, it’s a combination of what you put INTO and ONTO your body that makes a real difference. And finding time to exercise — even for 15 minutes — makes a discernible impact on your overall health and ability to cope with changing seasons. Sometimes that just means walking home from the T or doing a quick yoga video in the morning before work.
walking the mile home from daycare: totally counts as exercise when pushing this lady uphill!
So, how do I stay somewhat energetic, organized, and (fingers crossed) professional-looking without breaking the bank up here in chilly old Boston? There are a few things I can’t do without. My tips:
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Don’t leave the bathroom post-shower without slathering on a rich, hydrating body cream. I always used to skip this step and then wondered why my entire body felt so itchy and uncomfortable! If your skin is really driving you nuts, try an in-shower body oil wash like this, too. I’ve become a big fan of Bath & Body Works lotion for scented body lotion, and the Body Shop’s body butters are my favorite natural-ingredient option. Their Vitamin E mist also does wonders to refresh dry, fatigued facial skin throughout the day.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
Allow me to introduce you to my new best friend: this flavor-infusing water bottle by UncommonGoods. I’m always tossing limes, lemons, basil, berries, you name it into my water at home, but until recently I hadn’t found a good way to take these healthy flavored waters on the go. I get bored really easily with plain old water, and yet I know how important it is to stay hydrated in the dry winter months, so I really want to find ways to overcome that hurdle. This week I tried adding apples to my water and it was delicious! I love that this bottle seals tight, won’t spill in my purse on the train, is easy to clean, and looks chic enough on my desk at work that three people asked me where I’d gotten it. It’s definitely on my gift-giving list for this year, and if you are looking for more gift ideas, they have great handcrafted presents for men and women, as well as lots of personalized gift options. You can feel good knowing they incorporate recycled and up-cycled materials into about a third of their products, and that most are made in the USA by artists and designers.
Taking a mental break from work for a little photo-book designing with Artifact Uprising. Bottle c/o Uncommon Goods.
Wanting to step up my water intake with meals, too, I’ve also started keeping a pitcher of tap water in our fridge, purified with charcoal, which reduces chlorine and balances PH while mineralizing your water for up to six months. In addition to prompting me to drink more water with meals at home, it’s helped me kick another bad habit: buying huge packages of bottled water out of pure laziness.
charcoal filter c/o Uncommon Goods.
Beyond just hydrating and moisturizing your system, it’s important to think of what you eat in winter as fortifying yourself from the inside out. Sure, there are lots of parties and holiday gatherings this time of year, and plenty of reasons to celebrate. But if you start overdoing it on wine, candy and dessert almost every day, you won’t be fueling yourself with the right energy to make it through the season. I’ve learned the hard way that too much wine every day after work actually disturbs your sleep and saps your energy, making you tired (and tired-looking!) in the morning. Same goes for sweets! When the clocks “fell back” and it started getting darker earlier, I noticed a more pronounced sugar craving around 3:30 or 4 every day. I indulged that sweet tooth until I realized it was making me crash (hard) during Georgia’s bedtime every evening, and as an added bonus (ha) it was making me break out, too. I stopped the sugar binges and put a halt to the breakouts and cycle of fatigue almost immediately. And once you empower your body to rest more deeply when you sleep, you can work on making sure you go to bed and wake up at a consistent time every day, which is easy to do if you don’t have kids, work, or a spouse that wants to chat right when you were hoping to go to bed :)
In all seriousness, I wouldn’t make it through the holidays each year if I didn’t get enough sleep, and the only way I can do that just happens to have the added benefit of helping your hair and skin recover from harsh winter winds and temps…and that is showering every other day.
How can you get away with showering every other day? Two words: dry shampoo. I’ve found that using a higher-quality shampoo and conditioner to begin with helps extend my blowouts to two days, and the dry shampoo gives me just the extra bit of freshness I need to feel polished enough for work. Since Georgia goes to daycare every other day, I make those days my “no shower/dry shampoo” mornings, unless I have a big meeting or presentation requiring a bit more effort. This routine, while not as doable in the summer, gives my skin’s natural oils time to replenish and heal my nails, hair and body head to toe. In the summer, I take the blow-drying break my hair really needs to stay healthy over the long term. Investing in a high-end hair dryer can also help, since it will reduce overall drying time. I also recommend spraying hair with a lightweight conditioning detangler for added moisture year- round, and my personal favorite (which I share with Georgia) is from the Honest Company.
When all else fails and the heat is cranking at home and at work, I bring out the big guns: my humidifier! We love the Crane drop shape model, but any brand is fine as long as you make sure to buy cool-mist only, especially if it’s for a baby or toddler’s room. This alone has helped us to soothe Georgia’s dry, raspy nighttime cough, which seems to resurface every winter.
Last but not least, I have a Friday night ritual that helps save my winter-ravaged skin: making a food-based facial mask! Here are three recipes using ingredients you probably already have hanging around the house:
- Option #1: mash 1/2 cup avocado with 1/2 a ripe banana until smooth. Spread the mask on your face for up to 15 minutes and rinse with warm water for a soft, creamy treatment! This mask is hydrating and soothing, and bananas in particular will help reduce breakouts and reduce past discolorations.
- Option #2: Combine 1/2 cup oats, 1 banana, 1 TBSP coconut oil, and 1 TBSP honey. Blend in a food processor and slather on your face for a rich, restorative mask in the dead of winter. See a how-to here! It’s inexpensive, unclogs pores and fights bacteria, and the coconut oil is especially good at de-gunking.
- Option #3: Plain old honey. Works great by itself! This you can even do twice a week if you like.
Turmeric also works to lighten and brighten skin, so you could add that to either of these masks as well. Refrigerating any of these masks is a great refreshing option, too! Follow them up with a nice hydrating moisturizer and go to bed for some skin-saving rest. I have two favorite nighttime winter moisturizers: one from Clinique and another from RoC with retinol for sensitive skin.
Georgia shows us how it’s done. Just don’t stay up all night watching Netflix!!
I hope this inspires you to care for your sensitive skin in winter. Thanks for Uncommon Goods for partnering with us to create this post! Have a safe, happy Thanksgiving.