Hydrate Winter's Dry, Chapped Skin Naturally

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With precipitation next to nonexistent compared to last winter's double-digit rainfall, dry, chapped skin can be a problem for Rim Country residents.

Hydration from within is the first and best way to care for the largest organ of the human body, according to Gladys Moreno, who owns Garden of Eden Botanical Arts.

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Fragrances in the custom blended lotions at Garden of Eden are not chemically based; they are achieved through the use of essential oils and created by Laura Meidinger, LMT and Gladys Moreno, LMT and herbologist. Bergamot and clary sage were added to this particular mixture to relax the mind and make one feel good in the moment.

"Obviously the elements we have here, the wind and the fact that we haven't had any moisture, are making us very dry," she said. "Lotion won't do the whole job. Hydration must come from the inside."

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends the use of moisturizers to combat skin dryness and itchiness.

Skin soaks in the most lotion within three minutes of a shower or bath because it is already moist, and if the person used hot water the pores are more open.

"Anything you apply topically, within 20 minutes it will be in your blood stream," said Moreno, who recommends consumers read the labels, so they know what they are putting in their bodies.

Shea butter and hemp butter lotions are more beneficial to winter skin than the lighter grape seed or sunflower oils, she said.

"Hemp butter has one of the highest based concentrations of Omega 3 fatty acids in the plant world. It is wonderful for your skin. Anybody who suffers from very dry, scaly skin, that is the best thing they can use," Moreno said.

The lighter the skin, the more susceptible a body is to dryness and sunburn.

Both the AAD and the American Cancer Society recommend the application of a daily sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher to those areas exposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sun.

"Skiers and snowboarders may be unaware of the dangers they face from the sun while on the slopes," said Erin Mulvey of the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Ultraviolet exposure increases about eight to 10 percent for every 1,000 feet of elevation. Snow reflects about 80 percent of the ultraviolet light from the sun, which compounds the problem and increases the risk of skin cancer.

Tightly woven, dark fabric provides more sun protection than fabrics that are light in color and weight.

UV-blocking sunglasses with wraparound or large frames protect eyelids and the sensitive skin around the eyes from sun-induced aging. The eye area is a common site for skin cancer, the world's most common malignancy.

The ADD also recommends dabbing petroleum jelly on areas of problem skin to promote healing.

Moreno's approach to skin care stems from her own search for wellness and her subsequent years of training in herbology at the Southwest Institute for Healing Arts.

"I don't believe, per se, in sunscreen," Moreno said.

If you are constantly exposed to the sun outdoors, then she thinks a person needs some protection. People with primarily indoor jobs need vitamins A and D, mostly D, and the sun will create that in the body naturally.

Iron oxides (minerals) have natural sun blocks built into them. These can be obtained through green tea and Lipton sun tea.

Mineral cosmetics like Monave are naturally sun blocking and have the added benefit of not clogging the pores.

"My lotions are all natural. We use things like Shea butter, grape seed and jojoba oils. They are mixed with things like beeswax -- it makes them very emollient for the skin, but they do not clog your pores, so your pores will be able to breathe. We do not use anything that is petroleum based (like mineral oils)."

"Throughout the day, you are constantly touching objects and washing your hands, therefore, lotion is going to get away from you. Nighttime, when you go to bed, you aren't going to be touching anything, so lotion will stay on your skin longer. Really lather yourself with it."

Cotton or natural fiber gloves and or socks can also help seal in the moisture.

Dryness may cause the skin around nails or on the feet to crack and it can be painful for a couple of days while the crack heals.

According to Moreno, if comfrey salve or hemp butters don't cure the crack in the skin, infection can follow. Then it is time to seek the advice of a doctor or a dermatologist.

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