Make Your Body an Oasis in the Winter Desert

Organic Botanicals and Essential Oils Help Quench Winter Skin’s Thirst

If skin could scream this time of year it would be howling like the winter winds right here in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Cold temperatures, low humidity and wide temperature swings team up to parch skin during the heating months. Most people just lather up with lotions and hope for an early spring. Just in the nick of time here are some natural and easy ways to keep skin soft and healthy while keeping Jack Frost at bay.


Moisturize! Moisturize! Moisturize!

They call it moisturizing as if you’re adding water to your skin, but what we’re really talking about is adding oil. I don’t care if you use bacon grease (as long as it is organic and unsalted if such a thing exists). The secret to smooth young looking skin is to add oils topically, at least once a day and preferably at night. That way you have time to allow the oils to soak in and you’re not running around with a shiny face explaining yourself.


Respect Your Body’s Largest Organ

Healthy skin is very important for overall well-being. Skin is the body’s largest organ and the first line of defense against harmful substances, temperature, infection, and dehydration. Severely dry winter skin can split and bleed, and becomes less effective at providing a barrier against infection. Winter conditions rendering facial skin rough and dry can also lead to signs of premature aging, such as wrinkles and fine lines.


The Bathroom Is a Good Place to Improve Skin Protection

Avoid long, hot showers during the winter. The hot water may feel good, but every time you wash your skin you strip away critical natural oils that lock moisture in the skin. Natural handmade soaps help alleviate this effect by putting back rich absorbable vegetable oils that increase skin elasticity and help to keep your skin healthy and young looking. Try taking warm showers or baths that last less than 5 minutes. Gently pat skin dry with a towel and apply a natural vegetable-based moisturizer while the skin is still damp. Always use natural soaps, lotions, shampoos and shaving preparations – especially those that feature certified organic ingredients. Conventional personal care products usually contain detergents and other synthetic substances that can dry and damage your sensitive skin.


Handmade Natural Soap is Good for the Skin – But why?

Handmade bar soaps are the mildest soap products that can be made. Evidence abounds of the healing powers of natural handmade soap, particularly when essential oils, vegetable butters, aloe, oatmeal are added to a mild vegetable oil base. Winter skin sufferers, as well as people that have eczema, psoriasis, sensitive or dry skin, often find immediate relief by switching to Unscented handmade soap. With a few notable exceptions, there are no artificial colors, fragrances, or preservatives used in the manufacture of handmade-style natural soap. If you have sensitive skin stay away from Melt and Pour type “glycerin” soaps. Ask for cold process handmade soap which has been slow cured for a month before sale specifically.

At Vermont Soapworks in Middlebury, VT, real Master Soapmakers do things the old fashioned way. Natural plant-based ingredients are blended in small batches and poured into wooden block molds. The molds are then warmed for several days, which forces the soap to set up very slowly. Excess or” free” alkali rises to the top like cream and is skimmed off. When ready, the soap is wire cut into bars, placed on oak drying frames and aged in a special curing room for nearly a month. Only this 200 year-old process removes excess alkali from the soap, a major cause of dryness and irritation often found in conventional bar soaps.


What Makes Some Conventional Soaps Harsh and Harmful?

Many people complain about soap making their skin feel dry, itchy, or worse! In bar soap, free alkali is a common source of irritation and dryness. Soap is made from oils (an acid) mixed with water and alkali (a base). Acids and bases neutralize each other to form a salt – in this case soap – with glycerine as it’s by-product. Oils that didn’t find the alkali are ‘free oils’ or ‘superfatted’ which makes soap milder. Alkali that doesn’t find oils is ‘free alkali’, which makes soap harsh and drying. Excess Alkali makes your face feel dry and puckered up after using a cheap bar of soap. Other commonly used soap ingredients such as Isopropyl Alcohol, Propylene Glycol (anti-freeze) and Triclosan (anti-bacterial agent) have been proven harmful to human health and can cause severe skin irritation.


Selecting The Right Soap

To improve skin health, you should carefully review the ingredients in the soap you are using. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, reconsider your purchase! Instead, try using a natural handmade soap specific to the needs of your skin type. An example of the ‘ultimate dry skin soap’ is the Butter Bar. It’s made with a mild and moisturizing combination of organic vegetable and botanical sources including shea, cocoa and mango butters, aloe vera and calendula. Visit to learn more about how to determine skin types and which natural soap ingredients are recommended for different skin types. Don’t be surprised if your skin type changes with the seasons!



  • Drink plenty of water to keep skin moist from the inside out!
  • Use natural, vegetable oil handmade soap. Conventional extruded bars and so-called “glycerin soaps” can dry out your skin.
  • Maintain a reasonable humidity level in your home and office. Install a humidifier or boil water on a stove and leave open crocks of water in rooms. Aim for a household humidity of at least 30 percent, gauges are available at most electronics stores.
  • Limit external exposure to water as much as possible. For example, wear waterproof gloves when washing dishes and limit the duration of showers and baths.
  • Wear sunscreen protection containing natural moisturizers like aloe vera, vegetable butters and herbal oils.
  • Protect lips with vegetable-based lip balms
  • Eat a proper diet, healthy skin depends on proper nutrition. Vitamins C, E and B Complex and a diet that includes plenty of dark green, leafy vegetables will help prevent dry skin conditions. Consider supplementing essential fatty acids (hemp or flax seed oil, or EPA-enriched fish oil).
  • Avoid topical products containing alcohol, as it will dry out the skin.
  • Add moisturizing oils to baths.
  • Apply natural vegetable oil ointments and lotions after showering while the skin is still damp. This helps the moisturizers penetrate skin and traps water in the upper skin layers.
  • Layer on your skin care like you layer warm winter clothes, especially areas directly exposed.
  • While layering clothing, avoid having abrasive fabrics (like wool) directly on sensitive skin.
  • Gently exfoliate your skin. In colder weather your body processes slow down and your skin does not slough off dead skin cells as efficiently.
  • Remember, Handmade Soap is good for your skin!


Mic LeBel, 207-380-2702