(Originally published on Mind Body Green)
For more than two decades, I used conventional treatments to address my dry skin, but everything from my environment to the products I sampled only aggravated my condition. In fact, many of the products I used to treat my dry skin made it much worse.
Petroleum jelly, brand-name pharmacy lotions, and dermatologist-prescribed treatments were what I relied on during my ongoing battle against painful, dry, and flaky patches that popped up daily on my cheeks, chin, and around my mouth. The skin beneath my nose was constantly dry, cracked, and peeling, and no matter what I used, it always seemed to make the situation much messier.
Even more frustrating? The products stung my skin — they burned and turned the delicate areas bright red. Psoriasis flared, staring from strangers ensued, and my social life was basically nonexistent due to my embarrassment.
It took a long time, but I decided to stop using the pharmaceuticals, chemical-laden prescriptions, and conventional products four years ago. Finally, I started to address the real source of my problem: non-natural products. When I said goodbye to the Proactive and Accutane, I discovered I had naturally glowing, supple skin.
Of course, my cure isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach; there are many possible causes for dry skin, so first and foremost, it’s important to educate yourself and figure out what’s causing your issues. The best way to treat dry skin is from the inside out, but conversely, it’s incredibly effective to treat dry skin from the outside in.
Anything from humidity to steamy showers to conventional soap can aggravate skin, and something as simple as drinking more water can treat it. Maybe it sounds simplified, but anytime I neglect my habits, dry skin, acne, and psoriasis flare up. So how do we treat dry, itchy skin naturally and for good? Here are some ways that have truly changed my skin for the best … forever!
Though you may be tempted to lather your body with lotion when dealing with dry skin, your best — and more natural — option is oil. Most conventional moisturizers contain humectants to lock in moisture, but they can also work in reverse and pull much-needed hydration out of your skin. Oil, on the other hand, will sink into your skin and stay there.
Organic almond, jojoba, olive, rosehip, neem, macadamia, marula, and coconut oils are my favorites and are incredible for the entire body as well as your face. They’re skin-firming oils that help to fight wrinkles and acne, all while creating a supple, beautiful complexion.
2. Fish oil and marine collagen
Fish oil and marine collagen are two very effective products to moisturize skin from the inside out. On their own, they work well, but when you combine them, they can lead to a near-perfect complexion.
High in omegas, fish oil will help your cells get and maintain their health, lead to supple cell membranes (which equals plump, hydrated skin), and keep moisture locked in to your skin. I find that it helps with everything from lightening dark circles to dry skin to acne. And since marine collagen is a fibrous protein extracted from the skin of a fish, when you add marine collagen to the mix it’ll help slow the effects of aging and reverse environmental damage (such as dry skin!).
3. Hydrating masks
Using these is a great, easy way to combat dry skin, especially if you’re going the DIY route and can control the ingredients. If you want to purchase a mask, look for ingredients like honey, sea kelp, oil, or berries, as they’re all natural ways to treat the condition. To make your own, mix equal partsmanuka honey, organic olive oil, raspberries, lemon, and turmeric. Whip them together in a bowl and then apply to face and dry areas for a potent anti-inflammatory, hydrating treatment.
If you do nothing else for your skin, at least make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. Almost 60 percent of our bodies are made of water, so it’s crucial to the health of not only our skin, but to every single cell we’re made up of. First and foremost, water helps to flush toxins from your body, so any nasties hiding inside that might be contributing to your dry skin are likely to get washed out with enough hydration. Water is also your skin’s best friend, so drink up!
In terms of the water you’re washing yourself with, it might be time to invest in a filtered shower head and faucet. Many cities have “hard” water, meaning it’s high in mineral content. These minerals have the ability to dry out your skin or even leave a film on your body that will suck moisture over time.
5. Moisturizing soap
Using the correct soap is essential to winning your dry skin battle. Many soaps can be dehydrating because they’re conventionally designed to be industrial and contain sodium, which is disruptive to skin. Repeated use of this kind of soap will dry the skin out since sodium interferes with the body’s natural protective layer that keeps moisture in. Look for moisturizing soap in which the first or second ingredient is a natural oil or butter, and that contains essential oils. If you can find some without water or sodium, even better!
If you’re doing all these things and still experiencing dry skin, you might want to try eliminating these things from your diet to see a difference:
I know life without your precious cup of joe seems daunting, but doesn’t a life with dull skin sound worse? If you’re doing all of the above and still experiencing dry, dull, or aging skin, look no further. Coffee is an appetite depressant as well as a diuretic, meaning it depletes the amount of water your body gets, needs, and holds on to.
Speaking of caffeine-free, this dehydrating little bugger is sneaking into your life in all kinds of ways … not just through your morning cup! Try replacing soda and energy drinks with ginseng, ginger, or lemon water for a natural boost of energy and a glowing complexion!
You wouldn’t put alcohol on your face when you’re battling dry skin, so why put it in your body? Alcohol is one of the biggest roadblocks we face when it comes to our skin. If you must drink, try drinking an alcohol that’s organic or comes from a plant (like organic wine or gluten-free beer) instead of hard alcohol. This will minimize the damage, but the only way to completely avoid the risk is to stop drinking completely. I know it’s a bit of a bummer, but at least eliminating some days (or some hours) of drinking in a week can truly show a drastic improvement! Your skin will thank you.