It’s winter about half of the year in Boston, and since I like being happy, I really try to enjoy the season that never seems to end. It takes a lot of effort, though. If you’re anything like me, the whipping winds outside and forced hot air inside inflict chapped lips, cracked hands and feet, electric hair, itchy skin, and a sore throat and nose.
This year, though, I’m trying to reframe winter as a time to take care of my body especially well, and I’ve been devoting special attention to fighting winter dryness. Keeping my air, skin, and body humidified, moisturized, and hydrated has had a positive impact on my sense of mental and physical well-being, and I hope these tips offer you the same!
1. Put your heat on as little as you can stand, as most heating systems make the air in your home painfully dry. It is by far better to bundle up in blankets, sweaters, hats, and socks during the day and use blankets and flannel sheets to keep you toasty at night.
2. Use a vaporizer to humidify your air, and add aromatherapeutic essential oils to get some spa vibes going. Make sure to change the water in your vaporizer frequently, and add baking powder to the water to accelerate steam production.
3. If you have a kitchen, keep a large metal pot of water at a rolling boil.
4. Leave a bowl of water out with flowers floating in it for decoration, and let the water evaporate. This is especially effective if you leave the bowl on top of a radiator.
5. Air dry your clothing using a clothes horse, or soak a bath towel and hang it to dry in your bathroom.
6. Keep a spray bottle of water on hand to spritz the air.
7. Maintain a jungle of houseplants, or visit a greenhouse such as that at Wellesley College.
1. Occasionally exfoliate your lips to get rid of dead skin by gently brushing your lips with a toothbrush or by using a homemade sugar scrub (one part sugar + one part olive oil).
1. Foaming facial soaps can make your skin very dry. Gentle Cetaphil facial cleanser is the perfect alternative.
2. Use moisturizer before applying make-up. I like Oil-Free Moisture by Neutrogena, which is non-comedogenic and comes in SPF 15 and SPF 35, protecting you from the winter sun. (Snow glare is real, people!)
1. Wear gloves whenever you go into the cold, and avoid putting on wet gloves or socks.
2. Moisturize every time you wash your hands, and keep a travel-size moisturizer to apply frequently. I carry Eucerin in my purse, and I keep some L’Occitane at home so I can stare at the packaging. I’m looking forward to trying out Working Hands as well.
1. Soak your feet, either in a warm pot of water, in your bath, or in your shower with the drain stopped, and scrub them with a pumice stone.
2. Before going to bed, put Aquaphor ointment and cotton socks on your feet.
1. Especially if you have curly hair, which is inherently drier than straight hair, try to wash your hair less frequently. When you do wash your hair, rumor has it that using sulfate-free shampoo or conditioner in place of your normal shampoo can help to cut frizz.
1. Resist the temptation to take long, hot showers, which damage the lipid layer on your skin that holds in moisture.
2. Use moisturizers with oatmeal or shea butter to alleviate itchy skin.
3. Lotions hold dead skin to your body, so gently exfoliate every four or five days with a loofah. When you get out of the shower, pat yourself dry, moisturize heavily, and let the moisturizer sink in before you get dressed.
1. Drink more water than you think you need, as you may not feel as thirsty in the winter as in summer, making it easier to get dehydrated. This set of six chic, glass water bottles is my all-time favorite.
2. Avoid sodium, caffeine, and alcohol to the extent that you can. Not saying it’s easy, just that it’s praiseworthy.
3. If you get bored by water and need some added excitement, try mixing water with coconut water (Zico and Vita Coco Pineapple are my favorites.), mixing seltzer with a splash of grapefruit juice, or infusing water with celery, cucumber, strawberries, or other produce.
4. Drink decaffeinated tea. Chamomile is marvelous, helping with headaches, stomach pain, insomnia, and stress. (Maybe the last one is just me?) This thermos should get you through the day, or, according to the top review, a bad marriage and a miserable job (I investigated, and the story was fiction, though the enthusiasm for the product was real. Threw me for quite a loop, though.)
Let me know what other tricks you have! I’ve got all winter.