“Winter Wonderland” it is not. It’s no secret that freezing temps and wicked winds are unkind to mind, body, and soul. For one thing, it’s ‘that time of year’ when plenty of people walk around sick, so keeping your immune system running top-notch is key! And, even though we typically associate summer as the season to monitor hydration, it’s just as important over the winter too. Blasting the heat may feel good to warm up, but such dry air does nothing but strip moisture from skin, hair, and nasal passages.
Here are some of my personal favorite ways to put Old Man Winter back in his place, the healthier way:
- Hydrate from the inside by drinking plenty of water proactively – once you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. If drinking cold water doesn’t tickle your fancy on a cold winter day, brew up some hot tea for hydration + added benefits! Just be sure to skip the sugar, otherwise you’re counteracting your efforts (sugar contributes to dehydration).
- Speaking of tea, brew up a pot of fresh ginger tea with lemon and honey for an immune system super boost. Ginger is a wonder of nature, and being an antibiotic is just one of its many properties. Honey is also a potent antibiotic and antifungal. Together, they’re a force to be reckoned with, especially when paired with the Vitamin C boost and cleansing properties of lemon. How-To: Cut a 1 or 2-inch section off a fresh ginger root, then remove its outer layer with a peeler. Grate (or chop) the ginger into small pieces. Pour boiling water over it and let steep for 10 minutes. Pour through a metal strainer into a mug, and add the juice of 1/2 a lemon + 1 TBSP honey. Sprinkle cinnamon to taste.
- Consider getting a humidifier to help replace some of the moisture in the air, which will in turn help reduce the air’s drying effects on your body.
- If winter itch has got you going mad, consider installing a shower head filter to reduce chlorine. Aside from the many beneficial health reasons, it’ll also help reduce itch. Chlorine is infamous for stripping moisture to cause dry, itchy skin, so showering in it all winter (when you’re already at a hydration deficit) will just make things worse. For $20, you simply can’t go wrong! See the one we use here.
- Bring on the bee power! As I mentioned, honey is an amazing antibiotic. It’s great taken in tea or even straight. If you feel a sore throat coming on, take a teaspoon of it. Remember, raw and local is best. Taking bee pollen daily is another great immune system builder. But that’s not all – I’m obsessed with honey face masks. If you have honey that’s started crystallizing, don’t toss it! It makes a super moisturizing and lightly exfoliating face mask. Slather it on after washing your face, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before rinsing off. Smooth, soft skin, here you come!
- Soup it up! No doubt, winter is the perfect time to warm up with hot, hearty soups and stews, but don’t forget to pack them with nutrition! Include as many veggies as you can, and get creative – customize with beans, herbs, rice, or quinoa! Here and here are two great recipes. And if you’re not feeling well, nothing beats good old homemade chicken noodle soup! Here’s my mom’s recipe:
- Hydrate the outside, the right way. Take care of your lips, skin, and hair safely with products that A) don’t contain dangerous ingredients (or alcohols that will only dry you further), and B) contain quality ingredients for proper moisturizing. I adore lip balm, so I have many favorites! Here are several (and be forewarned, once you toss your “Crapstick” and switch to the good stuff, you’ll never look back):
→ Alba Botanica Pineapple Quench Lip Balm: 82% certified organic ingredients. Moisturizes and protects with coconut, jojoba, sunflower, and apricot oils, plus beeswax, aloe, and pineapple extract.
→ Mama’s Milk Shopp Lip Balm: Homemade and available on Etsy in different flavors (Buttercream pictured). Smooth and silky, made from beeswax and coconut, sweet almond, and avocado oils.
→ Badger Balm Classic Lip Balm: USDA-certified organic lip balm, with EVOO, beeswax, peppermint essential oil, aloe extract, and no artificial flavors. Leaping Bunny certified. Available in many flavors (Peppermint pictured).
For healthy skincare, goat milk lotion from Mama’s Milk Shopp is a great option! Did you know that goat milk is super gentle, since the pH is very similar to our own skin? And that its nutrients, fats, and proteins help to soothe and deeply moisturize, plus the lactic acid helps slough off dead skin cells? I’m a user and a believer. A little lotion goes a long way, and it’s totally non-greasy. Plus, the soft, smoooooth results really last! Its healing effects are great for people with sensitive skin, even eczema. (Fun fact: I use the unscented lotion to heal new tattoos!)
Using a facial moisturizer daily is especially important during winter, as is exfoliating often to get rid of dead, dry skin (it can be simple – gently scrubbing circles with a warm, wet washcloth is just fine). Keep quality in mind with your moisturizer too! Avoid bad-for-your-body, chemical-laden products that risk aging your skin faster, and instead choose ones packed with beneficial ingredients. Since I’m mildly breakout prone and gravitate toward very lightweight products, I currently use Aubrey Organics EveryDay Basics Moisturizer for Normal/Oily Skin. I’m not exactly in love with it, to be honest, and am in search of a better fit, because I’ve noticed it gives me tiny blackheads. That might just be me though – don’t let me stop you! Overall, it’s a safe, clean product and a way better choice than “typical” moisturizers.
For your hair, it’s important to condition more frequently throughout the dry winter, and you may find it beneficial to reduce the amount of extra heat styling you do beyond blow-drying. I know I sound like a broken record, but remember to use a conditioner that’s not loaded with chemicals – see my post about finding better companies/products. An extra-special treat for stressed hair (winter dryness-related or otherwise) is always a deep conditioning coconut oil treatment (see item #1 in the link for instructions).
Well, folks, I think that’s all I’ve got in my bag of tricks for now! I hope my tips leave you feeling well-prepared to wage your battle against the couple months still left of winter! Stay warm, stay safe, and start the countdown to spring!
Wishing you healthier, happier days!