Depending on where you live, lotion can be an essential item for daily use. However, many lotions are downright unhealthy. 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 have figured out a few ways to reduce the 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.
Don't Use Soap on Your Whole Body
Instead of lathering up your whole body when you bathe or shower, try just using soap on the "dirty" parts. I find it works well to only 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 on the large surfaces of my arms, torso, and legs.
Ditch the Daily Shower
Instead of showering or bathing daily, try every other day. I know some people will think this is gross and others may have been doing so for ages. I started showering every other day about ten years ago, and I've never looked back! On days when I don't shower, I still wash my face, armpits, and private areas; I still feel fresh and clean every day. Skipping the daily shower allows the sebum to remain on your skin, so that daily lotion isn't required.
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 help dry skin is to increase your intake of healthy fats, such as butter, tallow, and coconut oil. Eating plenty of fat is also great for your health.
Tips for Your Hands
My biggest problem area for dry skin is my hands. I've found that I can reduce the need for 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. When I do need moisturizer on my hands, I use homemade hard 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 is 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.
I aim for once/week baths for my kids (sometimes more or less depending on what they've been up to), and I only use soap when needed. (I should mention that we have a wonderful bidet attachment for our toilets that cleans their bums whenever they poo, so they do get their privates sprayed clean with water daily). Such infrequent baths and use of soap keeps my kids' skin nice and soft, not at all dry, and I rarely apply any moisturizer to them.
Do you have any tips for reducing the need for lotion?
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