Archive for December, 2006

Keeping Dragon Skin at Bay

One reason why our skin becomes so dry during the winter months, besides the cold and moisture-depleted air, is due to all the chemicals we put directly on our skin. Many of the products sold to supposedly eliminate dry skin actually cause the problem to become worse. And then there are other products that purport to be “natural” or chemical free, when in actuality, the label says otherwise. Becoming a careful label reader in the store will reveal just how many toxic ingredients are in most of the lotions, body creams, and other personal care products you buy to combat dry skin.

Most lotions and body cremes contain emulsifiers (mixing agent) to combine the oils and water that are contained within the product. They also contain preservatives (usually a paraben of some type), and other chemicals that cause more problems than they solve. All of these ingredients clog the pores in your skin and actually cause the top layer to dry out more, thus cauing the need for more lotion to be applied. There are a few reputable and fairly healthy brands on the market, but you should always take care and read the labels first. My recommendations for store-bought lotions are Logona and Aubrey Organics. But I firmly believe the best thing for dry skin is pure and natural oil.

One of the simplest solutions to dry skin is actually in your own cupboard. Olive oil works wonders on dry skin and doesn’t cost a thing extra other than replacing your bottle of olive oil when you run out. Some people don’t like the idea of smelling like olive oil, though. Never fear, there are other truly natural remedies you can use that are just as useful and have a variety of different scents. Besides being a very healthy, wonderful smelling and tasting oil for cooking, coconut oil is a luscious body oil and will cure dry skin almost on contact. Coconut oil has had an undeserved bad reputation for many years, but it is actually one of the most healthy oils you can use in cooking. It also has a higher temperature point at which it can be heated, thus it is safe for hotter cooking on the stove. According to Ray Peat, “Coconut oil is unusually rich in short and medium chain fatty acids. Shorter chain length allows fatty acids to be metabolized without use of the carnitine transport system. Mildronate protects cells against stress partly by opposing the action of carnitine, and comparative studies showed that added carnitine had the opposite effect, promoting the oxidation of unsaturated fats during stress, and increasing oxidative damage to cells”. Always look for the unrefined, white “virgin” variety. Most mainstream stores grocers don’t carry coconut oil, so you’ll have to make a trip to your local health food store.

Another amazing oil for the skin is apricot kernal oil. It is rich in body and flavor, and feels soothing and warm on the skin. I have a friend that mixes and creates natural body oil combinations, soaps, and body scrubs who added some rose and geranium oils to my apricot kernal oil and it has the most beautiful smell imaginable. After complaining about dry skin for days, my husband finally used some the other night with impressive results. The total cost for my bottle of apricot kernal oil with the added oils of my choice was $25. Not bad for an oil that has lasted me nine months and is only half-used – especially when you compare the cost of most store-bought lotions, and in particular the so-called “natural” variety which are much more expensive. The average cost of a “natural” lotion in the health food store is around $12 a bottle (at about 12 to 14 ounces) and you definitely won’t be able to make it last more than a few months in the cold winter weather.

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