The winter has been exceptionally cold here in Helsinki. Exceptionally cold weather also means exceptionally dry skin. Personally I always get really dry hands and lips, and especially my cuticles and the area around my nails dry up horribly.
The best way to keep the skin soft is in my opinion vegetable oils of all kinds. It is an easy, effective and definitely natural way of treating both skin and hair.
The best way to get started is really to browse through the kitchen cupboards at home. More or less any vegetable oil will work great for the skin. Depending on where in the world you live, you will find a variety of oils in the shops. For instance here in Finland there are quite a few really nice oils like
avocado oil – fatty and nutritious, for dry and dull skin
olive oil – good allround, semi-fatty oil for all skin types
rapeseed oil – semi-fatty oil that is quickly absorbed, for dry and sensitive skin
sesame seed oil - semi-dry, quite quickly absorbed, for all skin types
sunflower seed oil – dry oil that is quickly absorbed, for all skin types
You can read up on other oils for instance here – I’m sorry it’s in Swedish, but this is really the best site I’ve found for this kind of stuff. Make Google Translate your friend!
Cold pressed (extra virgin), ecological oils are of course to be preferred, since they contain higher amounts of vitamins and other yummy skin candy. A while back I bought a bottle of cold pressed ecological rapeseed oil, which is basically the most common oil in Finland, and I was surprised to notice that rapeseed oil actually should have smell, taste and color!
Basically, the oils can be separated into dry oils and fatty oils. Fatty oils take longer to absorb, but work great on really dry skin (feet, hands, lips, elbows…). Dry oils also moisten a lot, but are absorbed more quickly and so are great to use on face and body. The best thing to do is to mix one or more fatty oils with some dry oils to get a good mix for your own skin.
So how does this work, really?
I myself have two different oils that I use daily (or, well, whenever I can be bothered) on face and hands. One lighter, drier oil mixture for mornings, when I’m in more of a rush to get out, and one fattier oil for nights. If the face still looks greasy when going out the oil can easily be wiped off with some paper tissue, or even better, blotting paper (cigarette rolling paper works great for this!).
For the rest of the body, my best tip is to apply the oil before taking a shower. In that way the oil protects the skin somewhat from the hard water, which can dry out the skin a bit. Also the heat opens up the pores, which allows the oil to be absorbed better. Also straight after a shower, preferably when the skin is still damp, is good. I have found that the best way to apply the oil is to put the oil in a spray or pump bottle, pouring straight from the bottle can turn out a bit messy.