Keep your skin glowing through the dry winter days. Try our natural moisturizers, cleansers and exfoliants for winter skin care:
Moisturizing Basics for Winter Skin Care
When choosing a moisturizer, your first consideration should be your skin type. For oily skin, use a light moisturizer; for normal to oily skin, use a moisturizing lotion; and for dry skin, use a moisturizing cream. Hello To Natural provides products that accommodate all skin types which are especially effective for dry skin related issues in winter/colder months.
Next, analyze a product’s ingredient list: Nearly every moisturizer contains some combination of emollients, humectants, emulsifiers, “active ingredients” and penetration enhancers.
Emollients, such as phospholipids and lecithin, soften, heal and hydrate. Plant oils such as olive, castor, jojoba and coconut make great emollients because they mimic the soothing oils our own skin produces.
Humectants attract moisture to the skin. Look for moisturizers made with glycerin and sorbitol derived from natural sources. (To find out if the ingredients are from natural sources, consult the ingredients list or peruse the company’s website.)
Emulsifiers are used to keep the ingredients in a moisturizer from separating. Lanolin is an excellent natural emulsifier—read more about it under “What Is Lanolin?”.
A product’s “active ingredients” are usually responsible for providing its advertised effects, such as soothing, treating blemishes or preventing signs of aging. For example, zinc oxide is a natural active ingredient that protects against sun damage. Be careful when choosing skin products purported to remove wrinkles, blemishes or dark spots: These often contain harsh chemicals. To find out more about natural active ingredients, see “The Best Active Ingredients in Moisturizers” further in this article.
Penetration enhancers help a product’s active ingredients absorb into the skin. Look for moisturizers with natural penetration enhancers such as essential oils (menthol or chamomile are common), vegetable squalene, linoleic acid and oleic acid rather than synthetic penetration enhancers such as propylene glycol and tetrasodium EDTA.
Avoid poor-quality ingredients such as mineral oils, harsh chemicals, and artificial colors and fragrances. Harsh chemicals such as parabens, formaldehyde and propylene glycol are often used to give moisturizers a longer shelf life and help them absorb into the skin, but they can have side effects ranging from skin irritation to potential reproductive disorders. You can find effective, safe natural moisturizers (see our picks under “3 Natural Moisturizers”), or make your own simple, inexpensive moisturizer using this Homemade Moisturizer Recipe. For more information on ingredients in personal-care products to avoid and extensive listings of safer options, read Come Clean: Natural Alternatives to Chemical-Laden Personal-Care Products.
The 5 Best Active Ingredients in Moisturizers
All of Hello to Natural's products contain tea tree oil. Here is a list of many other beneficial ingredients you should look for in your skin care products:
• Anti-aging: Boswellia serrata, CoQ10
• Antibacterial and antifungal: Tea tree oil
• Anti-irritants: Comfrey leaf and root, Aloe vera, licorice root, marshmallow root, chamomile, white willow bark, vitamin C
• Soothing: Aloe vera, licorice root, green tea, chamomile extract
• Sun protection: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide
The 9 Best Oils to Make Winter Skin Glow
What it is: Argan oil is surrounded by more hype than U2's new album — and the consensus is that the hype is justified (for both). Extracted from the kernels found in the fruit of Moroccan argan trees, argan oil has high levels of vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. While it first claimed fame as a savior for dry, damaged hair, the oil also works wonders on the face and body. "The fatty acids help our skin cells make healthy membranes, reduce inflammation, and promote healthy collagen," says Joshua Zeichner, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center, in New York City.
What it is: "This oil is high in vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids, which helps proper cell function and decrease inflammation," says Jennifer Linder, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California at San Francisco. Because it's such a rich emollient, avocado oil is ideal for those with dry, itchy, or aging skin.
What it is: "When a client has super-sensitive skin, I recommend coconut oil, straight from the grocery store, as a body moisturizer," says Joanna Vargas, a celebrity facialist in New York City. "Its fatty acids make it helpful for anyone with eczema, too."
Additionally, research has shown that coconut oil restores dry hair. "Its 12-carbon fatty acid structure allows it to penetrate the hair cuticle and help provide flexibility and strength," says Perry Romanowski, a cosmetic chemist in Chicago. Rub a small amount on dry ends, smooth a bit on your fingers to tame flyaways, or use it as a deep-conditioning treatment in the shower.
What it is: Packed with heart-healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, flaxseed is important for a healthy heart and complexion. You can mix the seeds in foods, or use the oil as a topical moisturizer, says Howard Sobel, MD, an attending physician in dermatology and dermatologic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City. "It has anti-inflammatory properties, and studies have shown that if taken daily, it can improve skin conditions such as eczema in just three months."
What it is: While technically a wax, jojoba (pronounced ho-HO-ba) oil has a chemical structure that's very similar to our skin's natural oils, so it's easily absorbed. Dermatologists recommend it because it also contains such minerals as zinc and copper, and vitamins B and E, which help strengthen the skin.
What it is: Collected from the fresh flowering tops of lavender, lavender oil may be especially beneficial for those with acne and general skin irritation. "It helps control sebum production, soothes irritation, and is a natural antiseptic and disinfectant," says Linder. Lavender oil can also boost the performance of your other skin products. Says Linder, "It's thought to help aid in the absorption of active ingredients into the skin."
What it is: Olive oil — particularly extra-virgin olive oil — is a good all-around natural moisturizer and is recommended for dehydrated skin. "It's super rich in fatty acids and vitamin E," Dr. Sobel says. Like jojoba oil, olive oil is similar to the oils naturally produced by our skin and so is absorbed well into the skin. It typically does not cause allergies, but because it's a heavier oil, those with acne should avoid using it on their face. Studies also show that the antioxidant content in olive oil may help protect against skin cancer.
What it is: The oil of this thistle-like flower contains linoleic acid, or omega-6 fatty acid, which helps your skin make ceramides, a type of lipid that helps the skin hold onto water and prevent dehydration. "It's the best of all the oils for inflamed, dry skin — with the exception of argan oil, but safflower oil is much less expensive," says Leslie Baumann, MD, a dermatologist in Miami and author of Skin Type Solutions. You can also consume safflower oil to prevent dry skin, especially if your diet is low in fat. "Vegetarians and those on low-fat or low-cholesterol diets are more likely to have dry skin, but adding safflower oil to foods can help," Dr. Baumann says.
Tea Tree Oil
What it is: Tea tree oil is the essential oil taken from the leaves of the Australian tree Melaleuca alternifolia. Found in many natural acne remedies, it helps kill bacteria in the pores and hair follicles that lead to blemishes, and, luckily for those who can't find relief fast enough, it penetrates the skin quickly. "For best results, use it in conjunction with alpha- and beta-hydroxy-acid washes," says Dr. Zeichner. "Doing so will help slough off dead skin cells to prevent clogged pores." *Although it's a natural substance, tea tree oil may cause irritation, so make sure you test it on a small patch of skin before you use it generally.
5 Moisturizer Ingredients to Avoid
- Formaldehyde: A human carcinogen; watch for ingredients dimethyl-dimethyl (DMDM) hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, and 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1, 3-diol or bronopol
- Fragrance: Usually contains phthalates, linked to hormone disruption, possible birth defects, infertility and breast cancer
- Parabens: May cause reproductive disorders and has been detected in breast cancer tissue; watch for any ingredient ending in -paraben
- Propylene glycol: May cause hives, allergic reactions and other skin irritation in concentrations as low as 2 percent; synonyms include PPG, 1,2-dihydroxypropane, 2-hydroxypropanol, methylethyl glycol, 1,2-propanediol, and propane-1,2-diol
- •Retinyl palmitate and retinol (vitamin A): Rich in antioxidants and anti-aging properties; may also speed up the development of cancerous skin tumors when exposed to the sun; excessive amounts may be toxic to a developing fetus if pregnant women are exposed