With autumn upon us and winter around the corner, I start to consciously notice my skin craving moisture. I wash my hands only for them to itch a couple minutes later, or I notice the “cracks” in my freshly shaved legs. Cold weather brings out noticeable dryness, but skin needs moisture all year long to stay healthy. Moisturizing skin reduces wrinkles and irritations, especially in places that are frequently exposed to the elements or joint movement: face, neck, hands, feet, knees, and elbows.
As a chic vegan, you probably already know that what you put inside your body affects your outside glow and skin quality (Kimberly Snyder does a great job of synthesizing this experience). You might have even noticed your skin feeling softer or more moisturized upon going vegan, further emphasizing that a vegan lifestyle is not only compassionate to animals and the environment but also to your own body! Despite these components, skin will still be exposed to the beautiful elements of winter weather. I notice it every morning as I walk through the wind, next to traffic congested streets to get to my bus stop. While I love living in a city and the inexpensive convenience of public transportation, I can feel the weather (and pollution) on my skin and in my pores.
After diet, the most effective way to keep your skin healthy in these elements is to get the right moisturizer on it. Not all lotion is created equal, and neither is all skin. Your skin type, lifestyle, and climate affect which moisturizer you should choose. They come in three main categories: body lotion, body cream, and body butter.
We’ll start with body lotion. This is what most people are familiar with–a light, all-over moisturizer that dries quickly and doesn’t feel too greasy. Lotion often has a lower concentration of shea or cocoa butter and a bit more aloe. Water is always the main ingredient, being a higher percentage in lotion than the other two moisturizers. This keeps skin feeling light; usually moisturizing for 8 hours. For easily agitated or naturally hydrated skin, body lotion is the way to go.
My favorite is Hugo Naturals All Over Lotion – Shea Butter & Oatmeal. Hugo Naturals products are always 100% vegan, so no need to worry with reading labels! The lotion goes on very light without feeling watery. I like having the thicker lotion so that I can feel the moisture lasting in my skin without the weight of a body cream or butter. Plus, the Shea Butter & Oatmeal is a great, earthy fall fragrance!
Body Cream is the next step up in moisture. They might still have water as the primary ingredient but will increase the percentage of shea and cocoa butter. Body Creams also have a higher concentration of vegetable glycerin to add more weight to the product. Body cream is perfect for people that want a bit more moisture, lasting on skin for anywhere from 12-24 hours. I use body cream as my daily moisturizer, instead of a lotion. Body cream makes my “normal” skin noticeably softer. For people who prefer body lotion, body cream on shaved legs can act as a protective sheet over the exposed skin. I definitely recommend it.
My favorite is Desert Essence Natural Shea Butter Body Cream. Like Hugo Naturals, Desert Essence products are always 100% vegan. This body cream provides me with moisture from post-shower all the way through the next day. I keep other moisturizers around, but my skin feels healthy and hydrated with the one-time application of body cream.
Body Butter is the champion of moisture. People with very dry skin or cracks often think they need something medicated or unscented. I am not a dermatologist, but I believe the natural make-up of vegan body butters can sooth almost any dryness. The main ingredient of body butter is never water. Water is essential to the hydration of skin, but this must come from the inside. Just as sitting in a pool all day would not moisturize skin for long, neither will water based moisturizers provide the most intense hydration. Body butter is always butter based, normally coming from shea fruit or cocoa bean. These plant products are mashed into a paste and combined with other moisturizing components like aloe or mango extracts, water-heavy plants; so the final product is not greasy from the butters. Body butters are perfect for anyone to use on feet, elbows, or hands before bed. For those with consistently dry skin, body butter should be a daily, all-over moisturizer. It goes on heavy but provides noticeable moisture for at least 24 hours.
My favorite is Pacifica Perfume Body Butter in Tuscan Blood Orange and Andalou Naturals Kukui Cocoa Body Butter. Pacifica is nice because it is thicker than body cream but not as heavy as the traditional body butter (it comes in a tube rather than a tub like most). Also, Pacifica creates very sophisticated and unique fragrances for their moisturizers. The Andalou Naturals body butter is currently transforming the way my feet feel! It is such a treat to smooth into my heals after a long day of entrapment in boots.
Whatever the skin type, moisturizers heal and protect as we gear up for dry, winter weather. Almost every store will have testers of their moisturizers for you to try right on the shelf with the product. If they do not, it is completely appropriate to ask the associate to make a tester for you (I did it frequently for customers). The right vegan moisturizer will bring out the natural health and beauty that is already part of your skin!