Winter weather does frightful things to skin, often causing it to dry out and become prone to cracking, flaking, itching, and more—but that’s actually not the reason why I have dry hands this season. Sure, dry heat and icy temps contribute to my mitt’s lack of moisture, however, they’re merely a supporting act in the hydration heist that occurs on a daily basis.
As a ceramicist, I spend a lot of my free time sinking my hands into clay, a material that is surprisingly dehydrating. Just like the oil-balancing and acne-clearing mud masks you have sitting on your vanity, pottery does a fantastic job of sucking away grease and moisture—only my already supremely dry skin doesn’t need it. This often results in super-dry, rough, and itchy skin. On the worst days, it can sometimes look like my hands actually have dandruff. Big yikes.
When winter rolls around, it is a full-on fight to keep moisture locked into my thirsty paws. And, sometimes, no matter what I do, it feels like an impossible feat. That is until I decided to pick up one of my all-time favorite skin creams—Weleda’s Skin Food Original Ultra-Rich Cream ($16)—and play around with a daily regimen that would actually revive my sad, raisin-like mitts.
The Weleda Skin Food Original Ultra-Rich Cream dates all the way back to 1926 (that’s nearly 100 years of hydration!) and is a staple in many skin-care arsenals, including my own. As a long-time fan of Weleda, I actually can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a tube of this thick, lotion-like skin salve in my medicine cabinet. Formulated with plant-based ingredients, including rosemary, chamomile, and pansy extracts and sunflower and sweet almond oils, it’s a lifesaver for parched paws.
I love it because it has the effects of a buttery salve but glides on and absorbs like lotion, so you don’t have an oil slick sitting on top of your skin (and getting all over everything.) The fast-action formula also works almost instantly to replenish my skin’s moisture barrier and ward off the itchy sensations I experience on my knuckles at their driest.
My dry-hands solution
While I’m a big fan of the Weleda Skin Food Original Ultra-Rich Cream as a solo act, there’s actually a trick to how I apply it to elevate the formula and make it even more effective. Every night before bed, I wash my hands with soap and water and apply either Pacifica’s Lavender Moon Body Scrub ($13) or Hand in Hand Sugar Scrub ($13). (If my hands are in extra dehydration-despair, I reach for Lush Ocean Salt Face and Body Scrub ($21) which works through severe dry skin build-up with ease.) Then, I reach for Skin Food and slather it all over, paying close attention to my knuckles and nail beds since those areas need the most TLC.
As everyday scrubs, Pacifica Lavender Moon Body Scrub and Hand in Hand Sugar Scrub both work wonders. Pacifica’s formula features teeny tiny walnut shell particles that gently and thoroughly slough away dead skin cells to reveal softer and more supple skin underneath. It also contains jojoba seed oil, which provides a base layer of nourishment before the Skin Food gets slathered on.
Hand in Hand is a sustainable scrub I keep in my shower at all times and love it for head-to-toe exfoliation, especially when it comes to my hands. The scrub has a sugar base with deeply nourishing sunflower oil—which has tons of vitamin E—and coconut oils, so it also makes for an excellent primer in addition to getting rid of dead skin build-up.
Since my skin gets so dry, it’s nearly impossible to get cream to penetrate deep enough for lasting hydration on its own. Exfoliating the skin is a necessary step in my dry hands solution, as it removes the layer of dead skin on top and allows for better product absorption and longer-lasting moisture. However, the skin on my hands can also feel super sensitive due to the lack of moisture and consistent irritation. Exfoliating it could technically result in further irritation, only it doesn’t, since the Pacifica and Hand in Hand body scrubs have such nourishing formulas.
Establishing this mini skin-care regimen for my hands has worked true wonders and helps me keep dry skin at bay, no matter how much time I spend getting my hands dirty in clay. By gently removing the barrier of dry skin on my hands’ surface and applying a thick and creamy salve (one people have sworn by for nearly a century, no less), I can create my art without the added discomfort of dehydration.
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