Aromatherapy oils for dry, chapped winter skin

Ok, so we might not want to admit it, acknowledge, or even think about it but winter is around the corner - bringing us a whole host of skincare problems such as dry, flaky, irritated, chapped and cracked skin.

These issues are primarily caused by exposure to a dry environment. The air outside is drier in winter as colder air has a lower moisture-carrying capacity, and the air inside is stripped of moisture by heating systems, log burners and open fires. This drier air means that the water in our skin evaporates more quickly – it is thought that our skin loses more than 25% of its ability to hold moisture in winter. 

When skin cells dry out, they don’t shed as quickly, which leads to a build-up of thicker, flakier skin. This skin doesn’t retain water as well as moist skin and so creates a vicious cycle of dryness. While dry skin is usually harmless, if not cared for properly, it can lead to irritation, sensitivity, and more serious problems such as atopic dermatitis (eczema) or infection if the skin becomes cracked and allows bacteria in.

So, rather than wait for those chapped lips, red noses, dry skin patches and cracks to occur we can start to prepare and protect our skin - using aromatherapy as a preventative method as well as a cure! 

There are a variety of aromatherapy oils that are particularly recommended for dry, sore, chapped or cracked skin. We look at some of the top choices below.

Carrier oils for dry winter skin

Carrier oils offer one of the best ways of moisturising your skin and protecting it from the elements. Oils rich in essential fatty acids - oleic acid (omega-9), linoleic acid (omega-6), gamma-linolenic (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) are particularly recommended for preventing moisture loss and soothing, healing and revitalising dry skin. Top choices include:

Hemp Seed Oil 

Hemp is one of the most nourishing carrier oils available. It is rich in vitamins and fatty acids (linoleic, alpha-linolenic and gamma-linolenic acid) and is thought to have the ideal ratio (3:1) of omega-6 to omega-3. It is excellent for nourishing, moisturising and regulating the skin’s own natural oil, while calming irritation and inflammation.

Avocado Oil

Unrefined Avocado oil is intensely rich and moisturising – containing high levels of oleic, linoleic and linolenic acid along with lecithin, minerals and vitamins A, C, D and E. It is an excellent for enriching dry, damaged or chapped skin.

Jojoba Oil

Jojoba is a skincare hero. It’s a lighter feeling oil, but deeply moisturising and rich in vitamin E, B complex and minerals that are important for healthy skin. It also contains precious oleic acid, which is naturally found in human sebum, and essential for maintaining optimum skin health. Being so structurally similar to the skin’s own oil, it is very easily absorbed and penetrates right down to the deepest layers of the skin, sealing in moisture while nourishing, soothing and healing the skin from within. 

Argan Oil

Argan oil is often referred to as liquid gold in the beauty world. It contains high levels of vitamin E and essential fatty acids (namely, oleic acid and linoleic acid), along with squalene, which is an excellent emollient and antioxidant. Squalene is a lipid produced naturally by our own skin cells, but unfortunately declines with age. Argan has traditionally been used in the treatment of skin infections and has been shown to improve skin elasticity and skin hydration by restoring the barrier function and maintaining the skin’s water-holding capacity.

Sea Buckthorn Oil

Sea Buckthorn is excellent for mature, dry and damaged skin. It is rich in omegas 3, 6 and 9, as well as omega 7 (palmitoleic acid) which is beneficial for collagen production and healthy skin. It is also one of the richest natural sources of beta-carotene (vitamin A) which helps to heal damaged skin and promote cellular growth.

Calendula Oil

Calendula oil has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that are ideal for supporting, restoring and protecting the skin. It is a perfect choice for soothing many different forms of sore, inflamed skin conditions including chapped skin, eczema and psoriasis.

Essential oils for dry winter skin

Essential oils that gently stimulate the sebaceous glands to function more efficiently, and oils that improve the general health of the skin and blood supply to its growing layer are the most beneficial.

Rose essential oil would be our top choice, along with other floral oils such as Chamomile, Jasmine or Neroli, all of which are gentle enough to use on dry skin that is often also sensitive and delicate.

Oils that are good for balancing/normalising sebum production include Geranium, Lavender and Sandalwood, with resinous oils such Benzoin, Elemi, Frankincense and Myrrh being the best choices for soothing and healing very dry, cracked skin.

Aromatherapy blends for dry winter skin

Rich moisturising cream 

Mix 150ml Organic Moisturising Cream, 5ml Sea Buckthorn Oil, 5ml tsp Jojoba Oil, 10 drops French Lavender, 8 drops Geranium and 4 drops each of Frankincense and Rose.

This recipe is especially good in the cold winter weather to nourish the skin and help maintain a smooth, youthful skin tone. 

Rich moisture mask 

Mix 2 tbsp Aloe Vera & Rose Gel, 5ml Sea Buckthorn Oil, 5ml Avocado Oil, 2 drops Neroli, 4 French Lavender and 2 Benzoin. 

Apply to face and neck and leave on to allow nutrients and oils to sink in. Wipe off any excess with tissues and splash face with cold water before moisturising.

Aloe Vera is a wonderful hydrator/humectant which means it draws moisture from the atmosphere into your skin and holds it in place.

Ultra-hydrating moisture cream for dry, cracked skin

Mix 100ml Organic Moisturising Cream, 5ml Calendula oil, 5ml Vitamin E oil, 20 drops Lavender, 6 drops Benzoin, 4 drops Frankincense, 4 drops Patchouli and 4 drops Myrrh.

Optional: you can also add 10 drops of Tea Tree oil if there is any sign of infection.

Nourishing body oil for dry skin

Mix 20ml Jojoba, 10ml Avocado oil, 6 drops Rose, 4 drops Patchouli and 2 drops Geranium and massage it liberally into your skin after a bath or shower.

Rich hand cream for dry, cracked skin

Mix 100ml Organic Moisturising Cream, 10ml Hemp Seed Oil, 10ml warmed Extra Virgin Coconut Butter, 20 drops Lavender essential oil, 10 drops each of Sandalwood, Geranium and Tea Tree, and 5 drops each of Lemon and Benzoin.

Smooth heel moisturiser

Blend 50ml Organic Moisturising Cream, 10ml Jojoba Oil, 5ml Vitamin E Oil, 10 drops Frankincense essential oil, 5 Benzoin, 5 Tea Tree and 2 Peppermint. File down the hard, rough skin on your heel, and then massage in the cream morning and night.

Intensive care healing balm for sore, cracked skin

Mix 5ml melted Beeswax and 10ml melted Extra Virgin Coconut Butter, 5ml Evening Primrose and 5ml Neem Oil. Add 4 drops of Benzoin essential oil, 4 drops Myrrh and 10 drops Lavender.

Protective lip balm 

Some areas of our body are more prone to dryness than others as they have a reduced ability to produce natural oils. The lips are particularly vulnerable as they don’t have any sebaceous glands at all to help keep them moisturised. If the lips become very dry and chapped, cracks can appear which can bleed and be extremely sore. Chapped lips will also be more prone to cold sores and other bacterial infections. 

Although many people use Vaseline (petroleum jelly) on their lips, this only protects against moisture loss and does not repair or actually penetrate the skin. For maximum protection and healing properties we recommend using an all-natural lip balm with therapeutic essential oils:

Slowly melt 37.5g Sweet Almond Oil, 12.5g Cocoa Butter and 15g Beeswax in a baine-marie to make approx. 50ml of lip balm base. Next, blend together 8 drops Geranium, 8 drops Tea Tree, 6 drops German Chamomile, 5 drops Lavender and 3 drops Lemon and add 7 drops of this blended oil to your lip balm base. Pour into small tins or jars or lip balm tubes. 

This blend is excellent if you are prone to cold sores! Or, for extremely dry/chapped lips try: 3 drops of German Chamomile and 4 drops of Geranium.

Other helpful tips

  • Avoid over heating your home as this dries out the air.
  • Try to protect your skin from the elements as much as possible when out and about.
  • Keep your skincare products and routine as simple as possible if your skin is showing signs of irritation or sensitivity.
  • Do not use harsh/synthetic toiletries that can further irritate the skin.
  • Do not have your bath or shower water too hot as this strips the skin of its natural protective oils.
  • Always apply a moisturiser straight after a bath or shower or washing your hands.
  • Remember that the issue needs to be looked at holistically, as your skin is often a reflection of what's going on internally.
  • Staying properly hydrated has a huge impact on the condition of your skin, so aim to drink 2 litres of water per day (this includes herbal teas/infusions).
  • Look at your diet. Good nutrition forms the foundation of the skin's structure and resilience. Dry/cracked skin is often an indication of nutritional deficiencies. In particular, try to include essential fatty acids, protein, Vitamins A, Bs, C, D and E and the minerals copper, selenium and zinc.

Sharon Lovett
Marketing Manager

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