Q: I'm looking for an unscented moisturizer I can live with from an eco perspective - and it has to.
Q: I’m looking for an unscented moisturizer I can live with from an eco perspective – and it has to work.
A: Mix frigid, face-slapping winds with bone-dry interiors and suddenly your lips are bleeding and skin’s flaking like you’re in a bad reptilian sci-fi flick.
But don’t tackle your winter skin blues with the typical drugstore petrol pump. Most conventional lotions are loaded with petroleum-based ingredients like mineral oil and petrolatum, which can suffocate the skin (not to mention petrolatum’s potential contamination with carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons).
Your basic St. Ives/Lubriderm/Jergens/Curel/Keri Lotion/Vaseline Intensive Care is also chock full of other not so nice ingredients, like formaldehyde-tainted DMDM hydantoin and diazolidinyl urea, dodgy parabens and, often, synthetic fragrances dripping with hormone-disrupting phthalates.
Even naturally branded products like Avon Naturals have them. Plus, if they have any sunscreen properties, they’re likely using junky estrogenic or hormone-disrupting chems like octinoxate, oxybenzone and homosalate.
So what should you be slathering on your skin? Well, depends how thirsty your epidermis is and what body part needs help. A lot of lotions vanish on the skin, leaving you high and dry. If all you’re looking for is a light, all-over Lubriderm-style unscented lotion, Patrick Curelle’s BC-made hand and body lotion is a great basic, with simple, worry-free ingredients that leave your skin soft thanks to avocado oil and veggie glycerin.
For heavier nourishment, Finally Body Care makes a rich ‘n’ silky potion with healing calendula, chickweed and St. John’s wort. Wanna stop cold-weather itching? Pick up a bottle of Druide’s Karite Shea Butter Body Lotion. Eczema-sufferering Ecoholic readers and family members swear by the stuff.
Biodynamic/organic-heavy Weleda makes all kinds of beautifully hydrating creams and lotions rich in not so vegan but moisture-locking lanolin. Its Skin Food cream is particularly good at relieving dry spots with anti-inflammatory camomile and calendula and antiseptic pansy extracts.
By the way, popular moisturizer ingredients like shea butter are great for the skin, but their inclusion doesn’t guarantee an effective product. Montrealer Kariderm’s Body Milk made with 10 per cent certified-organic shea butter did nothing for me, though its straight 100 per cent shea butter is nourishing (though hard to spread) as a salve. Regardless of the brand, make sure your shea butter is certified fair trade, since the African women picking these nuts work long hours for, uh, peanuts.
Speaking of ingredient-scanning, more and more shoppers are avoiding palm-oil-derived products because of rainforest devastation caused by harvesting in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Toronto’s Ella Botanicals doesn’t touch the stuff. Neither do most healing balms (and body butters), which tend to be top performers for ridding you of more serious skin inflammations. If your company of choice does, call or email a request for a palm-oil-free version in the future.
Sigrid Natural Skin Care’s 100-Mile Healing Balm sources its guilt-free medicinal herbs and hemp oil base within 100 miles of Toronto. (Ingredients in her rich comfrey, clover and sunflower-based Flower Power cream are all from within 200 miles.) Not quite as local, Sigrid’s Comfrey Healing Salve has saved my raw hands from painful eczema for a few winters now.
Other miracle-working balms to look for? Check out Butterfly Weed’s antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and anti-itch Green Wisdom All-Heal Salve and Punk Medics’ Vegan Road Rash skin balm with the super-healer karanja oil.
You’ll fork out a little more to get celeb-endorsed Egyptian Magic, but the bee propolis and olive oil salve has a big following among psoriasis and eczema peeps, as does natural cortisone cream alternative, plant-based Florasone.
If wallet-friendliness is what you’re looking for, you’re probably tempted to reach for tubs of Kiss My Face/Jason/Alba/Nature’s Gate. Know that you’re slathering a lot more synthetics on your bod. You can get more for your money with Green Beaver’s Winter Body Lotion. Nature Clean’s 99.7 per cent natural Moisturizing Lotion is even more money smart.
Want maximum certified-organic purity? Badger’s balms and 100% Pure’s extra-silky body creams get my vote for top-performing (though gently naturally scented) nourishers. Honestly, putting a few drops of straight olive, grapeseed, almond or, my fave, coconut oil on your skin is probably the purest (if you buy organic), most nourishing, long-lasting and value-friendly moisturizer for basic dry skin woes.
Swallowing more oils, like primrose, borage and sustainable fish oils will keep your outer layer happier, too.
Add a good humidifier to your bedroom, dump that chemical laundry detergent, add a chlorine filter to your shower and switch to a gentler body wash like creamy Hugo soap and your skin will be thanking you in no time.
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