Living in Wisconsin would probably blow if I were not allllllll about winter. Like, ever-present snow from November to March? Having to layer up with leggings under pants and thermals under sweaters under parkas if you’re planning to spend anything more than five minutes outside? Most find it a drag, but I eat that up.
When I was a wee Catholic schoolgirl, I used to PRAY TO JESUS FOR MORE SNOW during weekly mass. Starting in, like, September. Granted, my concept about what praying was for was a bit off (I also prayed to Santa), but almost nothing bums me out about winter weather--except the dry air.
With my already-dry skin, the air in winter turns me into a minor flakeball. The biggest victim is my hands; if I don’t take care of them properly, they can crack, peel, and even bleed.
Luckily, throughout the years, I’ve picked up some tricks that keep mis manos soft and smooth all season.
Switch up your handwash.
Keeping your hands clean is extra-important during winter cold and flu season, but hand soaps and hand sanitizers are some of the biggest offenders in drying skin out. I avoid alcohol-based hand sanitizers altogether and opt for good ol’ soap and water. But even with that approach, most hand soaps you’ll find in your local drugstore are loaded with harsh surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate that seriously strip the skin.
I switch out the soap in my bathroom for a creamy body wash like Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Body Wash that has much milder lathering agents, as well as shea butter and coconut oil to moisturize skin. It smells awesome and allows me to keep it clean without feeling like my skin is going to molt like a lizard.
Another essential step in my hand-care routine is exfoliating. I love a good sugar scrub, and you can easily create one by mixing some brown sugar and olive oil, but I can’t resist Soap & Glory’s Sugar Crush Body Scrub. Its scent is fresh lime, brown sugar, and probably some sort of illicit drug. I mean, every time I smell the stuff I make that foodgasm face like Emma Stone in Easy A.
It exfoliates beautifully--grainy, but not too harsh--and is full of almond oil to lock in moisture, but doesn’t leave a slimy residue. And can we talk about the smell again? I know I just did, but I had to stop before writing this sentence and go sniff it again.
If you buy one thing I have ever recommend to y’all, make it this. No wait, two things: mandelic acid, and this. *drools forever*
Keep hand cream handy.
So, duh, after you cleanse and exfoliate, you have to moisturize. Pretty much any old hand cream will do, but my favorite is Aveda Hand Relief. It is light and non-greasy, and I keep mini tubes of it in my bathroom, in my bag, and on my desk at work.
I like that it is light and non-greasy, and absorbs really quickly into my skin. It also has a subtle citrusy fragrance--I always take it on airplanes because the light lemony scent is an incredibly refreshing pick-me-up on long haul flights.
Anyway, pick up a couple containers of your favorite hand cream and stash them everywhere so you’ll always have one at hand (sorry).
Add in oils.
You already know that oils are magical so don’t forget to incorporate them into your hand care routine as well! I use a couple of drops of (say it with me) Tarte’s Pure Maracuja Oil (always and forever) mixed into my hand cream, and it definitely helps keep them moisturized longer than hand cream alone. Any oil you like will do.
I use oil on my hands in the morning and evening when I’m washing my face, and I find that I have to reapply hand lotion less often throughout the day because of it.
Don’t forget SPF.
Finally, just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you get to skip out on sun protection. Winter UVA rays (the kind that cause aging and cancer) can be just as strong, and can be amplified by the reflection by the snow. So unless you’re mittened up, make sure to keep a product with some SPF in your routine.
You’ll notice that I’m not about limiting myself to products marketed specifically for hands, so I often test out sunscreens I didn’t love on my face on the rest of my body. One of my favorites for hands is Yes To Carrots Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15. On my face it was too heavy, but it is brilliant for hand care. It's rich and creamy, with shea butter and vitamin E for mad hydration. Also, the bottle is conveniently small enough to toss in your purse to top up on moisture and sun protection throughout the day.
My hands are gonna be super-soft underneath my mittens all winter. What are your favorite winter skin products? And more importantly, anyone else as excited for snow as I am?