Unbearably humid as the Philippines can sometimes be, our climate does lend our skin that natural, dewy glow even if we don’t moisturize as often as we should. (I know I certainly don’t.) And because we don’t have winter here, our skin looks that way the whole year round.
Once you move to Australia, however, you may notice that keeping your skin glowing takes a bit more effort. The country is literally as large as a continent (heck, it is one), so the climate can vary from semi-arid to fairly cool, but humidity can get so low during the summer months that bushfires are a common occurrence. If the weather can set plants on fire, just imagine what it can do to your skin. Yikes.
The weather does get cooler, but the winter season is no friend to your skin either. Being in front of a roaring fire or having the heater on might be comforting, but it could also make you feel dry, itchy, and scaly all over.
So, what’s a girl (or guy) to do to get rid of dry skin? Plenty, it seems, and some of the best remedies can already be found in your house:
Dry skin can be itchy and irritating, and sometimes, your regular lotion just won’t cut it. Before you go out and buy one of those insanely-overpriced moisturizers at the department store, pour about a quart of cold milk into a bowl instead. Dip a clean, soft washcloth or gauze into the milk and dab it onto your skin for five minutes. Gently wipe it off with another clean and slightly damp washcloth.
Milk is rich in lactic acid, which is great for soothing inflammation, so putting some onto your skin gets rid of that nasty itchy feeling. IMPORTANT: Use full cream or full-fat milk to get the most benefits. Do not use skim or 2% milk.
For an inexpensive, at-home spa treatment, combine 2 cups of milk with ¼ cup honey and a few drops of scented essential oil if you want, and then pour this mixture into a nice, lukewarm bath. Sit back and relax.
Strongly-scented cleansers or harsh antibacterial soap can strip the much-needed moisture from your skin. Fortunately, you don’t need to go without washing or bathing (hurrah for your officemates) since there’s a natural alternative.
Raw honey figured prominently in Cleopatra’s beauty arsenal, and with good reason. Not only is it a natural antibacterial, but it is also full of anti-aging antioxidants that nourish and moisturize skin. Used properly, it also relieves itchiness and lends your skin that radiant glow.
To make a nice honey facial/body cleanser, mix up some honey with a gentle oil like jojoba or coconut (the ratio is 1:2 in favor of the oil). Gently massage the cleanser onto your face and body (heat it up by rubbing it with your hands first if the weather is cold) and then rinse off with warm water. You can also make a hair rinse by mixing 1-½ tablespoons of honey with 5 cups of warm water. Rinse your hair with the mixture, leave on, and style as usual.]
3. Petroleum Jelly
The driest parts of your body are often the heels, knees, and elbows, but those watery, scented lotions that your US-based relatives often bring as pasalubong (I’m looking at you, Victoria’s Secret) do next to nothing for them. Go the unscented route and slather on some petroleum jelly (or Vaseline, as we Pinoys like to call it) on your dry, cracked heels and elbows instead. You can even rub a little bit of it on your lips to prevent them from chapping and to keep them all soft and kissable.
Because it’s rather messy to apply, use this remedy only when you’re about to go to sleep and when you’re using some old bed sheets that you don’t care much for. If you find it too thick, take a dab and warm it between your palms first to help it spread easier.
Pro-tip: Apply the petroleum jelly on your heels and slip on some thick socks prior to bedtime. You’ll wake up to instantly softer feet.
4. Olive Oil
If you have sensitive skin, olive oil could be your new best friend. Unlike many of the heavily-scented lotions being sold on the market that can irritate the skin, olive oil is gentle, hypoallergenic, and packed with vitamins A and E, which help repair sun damage and moisturize skin.
To make an olive oil lotion, combine a tablespoon of it with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Gently massage the mixture onto the affected areas, and let sit for 20 minutes. Gently wipe off with a clean, slightly damp wash cloth.
Like olive oil, oatmeal moisturizes the skin without setting off any allergies. There’s definitely more to it than being your typical breakfast food; you can actually bathe in it to soothe your dry skin.
Put 1 cup of dry oatmeal (good old Quaker oats will do) in a blender or food processor and blitz it until you get a nice, fine powder. Run a lukewarm bath, and scatter the powder under the running water, swirling your hands around to break up any lumps and to mix it thoroughly. Soak in the tub for up to twenty minutes, and then pat your skin gently afterwards.
Pro-tip: If your skin is really dry, you can soak in an oatmeal bath for up to two times a day.
6. Sugar and/or Salt
Removing dead skin cells paves the way for new skin, which absorbs moisturizers more effectively. There might be loads of trendy and expensive salt scrubs out there that promise to make you look like Miranda Kerr or some other supermodel after one use, but you can also make your own salt or sugar scrub at home.
If you’ve got an overripe banana lying around, you can mash it up with about three tablespoons of granulated white sugar and even a few drops of vanilla extract to make an instant face and body scrub. Apply this to slightly dampened skin, massage it around all over for a few minutes, and then rinse off gently under cool or lukewarm water. As a bonus, you can even eat the scrub if you get hungry in the midst of all that scrubbing.
But if you prefer a more savory mixture, you can combine a cup of sea salt with the grated zest of one lemon and two teaspoons of fresh rosemary leaves. Mix in half a cup of virgin coconut oil (time to put that VCO hoard from your last Manila trip to good use), and then scrub away in the shower.
Free-range, organic eggs are excellent for a one-ingredient, two-step beauty regimen for dry skin, especially on the face. You take one egg, crack it open, and separate the white from the yolk. Wash your face with some lukewarm water to open up your pores, and then apply the egg white. Leave it on for about 15-20 minutes before rinsing with some cold water; the egg white firms up and tightens your pores, squeezing out any dirt, gunk, or aspiring pimple out from under them (gross, I know, so do this during your down time).
After patting your skin dry, spread the remaining egg yolk all over your face. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes. Your face will look orange (ORANGE!) the whole time, so, again, do this in the privacy of your room lest you scare off some poor innocent children. Wash it off with some cold water, and revel in your now-soft, clear skin.
There’s no place like home and all you need for a healthier skin is within arms reach. Try these remedies and say goodbye to dry skin for good.