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  • Writer's pictureSarah

Healthy Skin Without Lotion

Did you know that many lotions contain unhealthy ingredients that can be absorbed by your skin? The known harmful effects from lotion ingredients include developmental and reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption, and organ system toxicity. Getting rid of your lotion can be an important step towards a healthy lifestyle.

Here in the desert southwest, our very low humidity and wide range of temperatures can lead to very dry skin.  I used to apply lotion to my whole body daily, but over time I've learned a few ways to reduce the overall need for lotion.

Sebum: The Body's Natural Moisturizer

Our bodies produce their own moisturizer in the form of sebum.  Tiny glands in the skin secrete sebum, everywhere except the palms of our hands and the soles of our feet.  More sebum is released on the face and scalp than on other parts of the body.  By conserving the sebum on our skin, we can greatly reduce the need for lotion.

Don't Use Soap on Your Whole Body

Soap removes the sebum from our skin. While this makes our skin squeaky clean, removing the sebum also dries out the skin. One method for retaining sebum on the skin is to skip lathering up your whole body every time you bathe or shower. Instead, try just using soap on the "dirty" parts.

Except for once a week when I like to do an overall wash, I find it works well to just lather up my face, armpits, bum, and feet.  The rest of my body just gets a nice rinse.  This really helps to keep my skin from getting very dry, because it leaves the sebum intact on the large surfaces of my arms, torso, and legs.    

Ditch the Daily Shower

Daily contact with soap and water can really contribute to dry skin. Instead of showering daily, try every other day or even just 1-2x per week.  Skipping the daily shower allows the sebum to remain on your skin, so that daily lotion isn't required. 

I ditched the daily shower over a decade ago, and I've never looked back! We have a Bidet attachment on our toilet, so my bum and privates are rinsed clean every time I use the restroom. On days when I don't shower, I still wash my face, armpits, and private areas. This keeps me feeling fresh and clean every day.

Eat Adequate Fats

Eating a low-fat diet can contribute to dry skin since there may not be enough essential fatty acids in the body.  One way to prevent dry skin is to increase your intake of healthy fats, such as butter, avocado oil, tallow, and coconut oil.  Eating plenty of fat is also great for overall health.

Coconut Oil as a Light and Natural Moisturizer

When I do need to use moisturizer, such as after washing my face or showering, I use unrefined coconut oil. It smells great and works wonderfully. When applied sparingly, coconut oil is readily absorbed by the skin, and will therefore not lead to an oily appearance.

Unrefined coconut oil is also very healthy for the skin. It contains lauric acid, which is antimicrobial and antiviral, so it is great for acne-prone skin. My complete How-To-Guide for using coconut oil as a moisturizer is here.

Tips for Your Hands

My biggest problem area for dry skin is my hands.  I can reduce the need for hand lotion by wearing gloves when washing dishes, cleaning bathrooms, and working in the garden.  It also really helps to not use soap every time I wash my hands; rather I only use soap when it is needed.

I do still need to use moisturizer on my hands every day, so I use 3-ingredient homemade hard lotion as a healthy alternative to lotion.

Tips for Babies and Children

Children, and especially babies, have sensitive skin.  No harsh soaps are needed; in fact, I don't think soap or shampoo are generally needed for young kids (barring sticky or greasy stuff on the skin or hair).  Young children also do not need daily baths; they don't get smelly the same way adolescents and adults do. 

Prior to adolescence, my kids only bathed about once a week. My kids have grown up using the Bidet attachment on our toilet, so they do spray their bums clean with water daily when they use the restroom. Infrequent baths and sparing use of soap have kept my kids' skin nice and soft, not at all dry, such that they rarely needed any moisturizer.

I hope these tips help you find your own healthy skincare routine. Do you have any tips for reducing the need for lotion?

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