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Dry skin can be more than just a nuisance: this common condition can lead to intense itching, pain, scaling, and even accelerated skin aging. For many people, traditional moisturizers don’t even begin to offer relief. Skin researchers have determined that not all moisturizers have what it takes to treat dry skin—and some even make it worse. Plus, typical lotions and creams contain many potentially dangerous chemical ingredients. Successfully treating dry skin takes a two-pronged approach: using the right topical treatments and addressing the root cause of the condition. This article introduces some of the safest, most-effective natural dry skin remedies that will provide long-lasting relief.
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Treat the Source of the Problem
The first step to healing dry skin is to address the underlying causes. The following steps will start healing your skin from the inside out.
- Maintain adequate internal hydration by drinking eight to ten 8-oz. glasses of pure, filtered water daily.
- Eat a good balance of healthy fats, including essential fatty acids from nuts, seeds, and (if you’re a meat eater) oily fish. Taking an essential fatty acid supplement, such as fish oil, in addition to what you get in your diet can also be helpful.
- In addition to making sure you are eating a nutrient-dense diet and getting adequate protein, you can up your nutrient intake by taking a high-potency multivitamin/mineral supplement.
- Try to bathe every other day and use gentle soaps only on the face, armpits, and groin. Take shorter showers and lower the water temperature.
- Humidify indoor air with a vaporizer or humidifier if you are in a cold or air-conditioned climate.
Safer Natural Dry Skin Remedies
The next step is to apply topical treatments. Common ingredients in conventional dry skin treatments—phthalate plasticizers, paraben preservatives, synthetic musks (fragrance), and certain sunscreen ingredients—are also common pollutants in our bodies and may cause cancer or reproductive or developmental problems. Consider more natural alternatives, including some of these proven remedies for dry skin.
- Virgin coconut oil. Used as a tropical skin moisturizer for centuries, virgin coconut oil has been shown in studies to have emollient, moisturizing, and antibacterial properties. Emollients soften the skin and close cracks by filling spaces around attached skin flakes, sealing moisture into the skin. When applied topically, virgin coconut oil repairs the skin’s barrier function and heals both dry skin and allergic dermatitis. In one study, virgin coconut oil applied to the legs twice a day for two weeks was as effective as mineral oil. It was found to be a safe and effective moisturizer that significantly improved patients’ skin hydration and increased the lipid levels in their skin’s surface layers.
- Ceramide-containing moisturizers. Ceramides are waxy type fat molecules that make up one of the main components of the top layer of the skin. They are the most important component of the skin’s barrier function. The body makes its own ceramides from other fats, but this process can become derailed and lead to dry skin and other skin problems, such as eczema. Ceramide-containing skin care products, such as lotions, have been shown in clinical studies to help protect against and treat skin dryness and other skin conditions, including eczema. The ceramides in these products may be synthesized in the lab or derived from plants. They are now available in a variety of forms in either prescription or more natural over-the-counter formulations.
- Make your own organic lotion. For a truly organic, all-natural remedy for your dry skin, you can make a highly effective lotion for dry skin using ingredients purchased from health food stores or online.
Simple DIY Lotion
- 1/8 cup grated beeswax
- 1/3 cup organic coconut oil
- 1/4 cup organic sweet almond oil or avocado oil
- 1 cup organic, unrefined shea butter
- A few drops of lavender essential oil
Melt all the ingredients except the essential oil in a double boiler over medium heat. Heat the mixture until there are no solid particles remaining. Add the essential oil and mix completely. Let the mixture cool to room temperature, then chill for about 3 hours until hard. Whip the mixture in a blender for approximately 5 minutes (until it looks like runny whipped cream). Store in a mason jar for 3 to 4 hours at room temperature to solidify. Keep lotion stored in the fridge to remain spoilage-free. If your skin is already cracked, try the more advanced recipes available here.
Share Your Experience
What are your favorite natural dry skin remedies? Has your dry skin improved with specific topical products? Do you make your own? What have you noticed about your dry skin when you take action to identify and treat the underlying cause? Our readers want to know what’s helped you, so please share in the comment section below.