Dry Hair and Skin? Remedies and Recipes

Want healthy hair and skin? See tips to beat the drys!

By Margaret Boyles & Margaret Ross
March 20, 2020
Dry Skin

Do you have dry hair, hands, or skin? If there’s one thing that we love, it’s making our own natural remedies and treatments. Check out these fantastic recipes that will restore and liven up your hair, face, and skin—and not break the bank.

Dry Hair Remedies

Weekly Conditioner for Fly-Away Hair

Try a weekly deep-conditioning. For a rich conditioning treatment that you’d pay $30 to $100 for at a salon, mix a couple of tablespoons of olive, coconut, or castor oil with ½ cup of full-fat mayonnaise (alternatively: a ripe, mashed avocado), and massage into your hair and scalp. Then wrap your hair in a large plastic grocery bag and top it off with a warm, dry towel for about 30 minutes. Wash and rinse as usual (but sometimes twice is needed, to remove the oil).

Moisturizing Leave-in Conditioner

Mix two parts water, one part witch hazel, two parts vegetable glycerin (a natural moisturizer available online or in health/natural food stores), and a tablespoon of olive or other cooking oil per cup of liquid in a spray bottle. If you have aloe vera gel on hand, add one part of that to the mixture. A few drops of essential oil will give you a scented product. Spritz on wet or dry hair before styling

    Baby with frizzy hair. Photo by Martin Novak/Shutterstock
    Control frizzy (or static-y!) hair with the above tips! Photo by Martin Novak/Shutterstock.

    More Body and Bounce

    • Mayonnaise, straight from the jar, will make hair soft and shiny. The egg nourishes brittle hair with protein, while the vinegar gives it body and bounce.
    • Try this mixture to regain supple hair: Mix one teaspoon powdered brewers’ yeast with four ounces of apple cider vinegar to create an after wash rinse. Pour it over wet hair and let stand at least a minute before rinsing.

    Oily Hair and Skin

    • Add one teaspoon baking soda to two ounces of your shampoo. This works as an alkali to absorb excess oil.
    • Baking soda works the same way with skin, it will absorb oil and also neutralize excess acid in your skin. Make a paste with baking soda and water.
    • Try lemon juice as an astringent facial cleanser.

    Dry Hands and Nails

    Let’s start with some good tips and basics on keeping your hands from getting dry and cracked.

    • Add moisturizer right after you wash your hands. Apply when your skin is a little wet to help it hang on to some of the water.
    • Avoid any alcohol-based cleansers on your skin. Consider liquid soap that contains moisturizers.
    • Use the right moisturizer! Look for products which lists ceramides (oils), dimethicone (a type of silicone), and shea butter provide a good seal for your hands. The thicker the cream, the better.
    • If you polish your nails, find an acetone-free polish remover, as acetone is a serious drying agent.
    • It goes without saying that you need to wear gloves when using any harsh or chemical ingredient to clean the house.
    • Also make sure to wear gloves or mittens when you go outside to prevent the dry winter air from drawing moisture from your hands and nails.
    • If your hands get so dry that they crack, be careful of infection. Clean the area with hydrogen peroxide and apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment.
    • Some dermatologists suggest coating hands and nails with Vaseline or another strong barrier and wearing cotton gloves overnight to treat dry nails and cuticles.

    To prevent brittle nails and ragged cuticles, try this handmade cuticle massage:

    Cuticle Massage:
    5 red seedless grapes
    1 tablespoon sugar

    Wash the grapes, then slice them in half widthwise. Dip the cut side into the sugar. Using half a grape for each finger, massage the skin around each fingernail for about 30 seconds each. Wipe off the excess sugar with a soft towel, then rub hand cream onto hands and cuticles.

    Dry, Itchy Skin

    Again, let’s start out with some basic tips on caring for your skin so that it doesn’t become dry and itchy.

    • Apply moisturize every day or even twice a day if you are over 40. Apply immediately after showering or bathing when your skin is a little wet. Do not scrub skin dry. For superdry skin, use olive oil. Rub it in prior to a bath or shower. You may substitute peanut, sesame or sunflower oil.
    • Dermatologists also suggest taking shorter baths or showers in warm (not hot) water. If you have severe problems, keep your showers to no longer than 5 minutes and use lukewarm water.
    • Use a mild, glycerin-based soap. And stay away from hair or skin-care products that contain any forms of alcohol, which are drying agents.
    • Avoid oversrubbing. Gentle clean around the “fold” areas of your skin—underarms, neck, and groin—and feet. Use very little, if any soap, on your trunk and limbs.

    Oatmeal Bath for Itchy Skin

    If you have itchy skin, try a soothing oatmeal bath. 

    Blend one cup of oats in a food processor or blender Run a lukewarm bath (NOT hot). Pour the oat into the warm water and stir. Soak in bath for 15 to 20 minutes and very gentle rub into skin.
    Rinse with warm water and pat skin dry. While skin is still moist, apple a hypoallergenic moisturising cream.

    A quart of milk in a hot bath is a luxury as well as a skin toner. It’s a trick nearly as old as time.

    Homemade Oatmeal Scrub

    For a homemade scrub, mix ground oats and honey. Rub all over your face—especially your nose. The abrasive will remove dry, scaly skin while the honey seeps in as a moisturizer. Rinse completely off and pat dry, and your skin will be glowing and baby soft. Only use this remedy once a week.

    Oatmeal soap. Photo by Natalia Malnychuk/Shutterstock
    Oatmeal soap. Photo by Natalia Malnychuk/Shutterstock.

    Chickpea Facial

    • ¼ cup chickpea flour
    • ¼ cup tumeric.  (Note: use Kasturi tumeric because regular turmeric can temporarily stain the skin)
    • Yogurt, as needed

    In a small bowl, mix the chickpea flour and turmeric. Store the mixture in an airtight bottle. When ready to use, place a teaspoon of the mixture in a small bowl and add enough yogurt to make a paste. Apply the paste evenly to the face and leave on until it dries, about 10 to 15 minutes. Wash off with warm water.

    Coffee Scrub

    Coffee grounds work to help diminish cellulite and varicose veins, in addition to improving circulation and smoothing the skin’s texture.

    • 2 cups used coffee grounds
    • ½ cup sugar or sea salt
    • ⅔ tablespoon unscented massage oil

    Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Massage gently on the skin, then rinse with warm water.

    Dry, Tired Eyes

    • Used teabags make excellent eye cosmetics. After being dunked (and allowed to cool slightly), drain the tea bag and place it over your closed eye (one for each) and hold it there for a few minutes. Redness, soreness, swelling and irritation will disappear like magic.
    • If you suffer from dry, scratchy, itchy, eyes, try laying a warm, moist washcloth over your closed lids for a few minutes each day.
      • This simple, effective treatment helps to liquefy the lubricating oil in glands located along the eyelids. It may take a few days, but if you use the compresses faithfully, you should experience relief.

    Dry, Chapped Lips

    • To prevent cracked or chapped lips, use a lip balm and apply it often. See our post on how to make your own lip balm. If you make a big batch that’s a bit heavier on the olive oil, you can use your homemade balm for hands, fingernails, facial moisturizer, and (just a dab) hair conditioner, too.
    • Plain honey is an excellent remedy for chapped lips. Blend fully into lips. 

    General Advice for the Drys!

    • Forget the idea that drinking plenty of water will keep your skin (eyes, nasal passages, nails) moist and your hair well behaved. Dermatologists say that while drinking water is important for overall health, as far as moisturizing skin, hair, and nails are concerned, you need to add moisture from the outside and prevent it from escaping into the drier surrounding air.
    • Use a humidifier. Indoor heating removes moisture from the air and your body. Humidifying dry indoor air helps to provide that indoor moisture. Try to maintain indoor air at 30 to 50 percent humidity. It’s especially important if you suffer bloody noses and lots of respiratory infections. You could run an electric humidifier, but passive solutions may do the trick for you. We maintain a lot of well-watered houseplants that transpire water into the indoor air. We keep steamers going on each of our stoves that pump moisture into the air whenever the stove is running.
    • Hanging your laundry on bars indoors is another great strategy. It doesn’t take much longer to dry near the woodstove than it would in an electric dryer, and while it dries, your laundry humidifies the air around it.

    Humidifier. Photo by Michael Ahanov/Shutterstock
    Use a humidifier or an alternative method (see above) to keep air humid. Photo by Michael Ahanov/Shutterstock.

    When Dry Skin is Severe

    If your dry skin just gets to a point of inflammation, unbearable itchiness, or scabbing, you may need to see a doctor. They can prescribe thicker, richer emollients.

    You also need to ensure that you don’t have psoriasis, atopic dermatitis  and other skin conditions may also need prescription medication and treatment.

    Learn More

    See more natural home remedies and check out our Living Naturally blog!


    Parts adapted from The 1977 Old Farmer's Almanac.


    Reader Comments

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    Witch Hazel on a cotton swab,

    Witch Hazel on a cotton swab, for outer ear acne (gently apply). Dial soap on a facial sponge, facial brush or mild abrasive pad, rub in gentle circular motion 2x-3x daily, after night time facial care apply Johnson's baby power to face, brush on liberally prior to retiring. Note: Drink lots of H2o regularly, keep hands, fingers, and nails off of the face at all times! If there is an itch, use back of hand to rub. Reduce amount of oily food intake. Don't squeeze the Zits, find a great dermatologist for hard to care for Zits. Good Luck for great skin.

    this may sound crazy..but

    this may sound crazy..but it's really simple.
    tell her to try for one wk..and see if it works.
    here goes,
    run warm water in sink....or just let run. don't use a wash cloth...only use your fingertips to scrub your face with just plane water...no chemicals....WATER ONLY!
    you can feel your dirt in your pours with your fingertips, they are like a brillo pad built in...Let me know...really. to many things out there that just feed your pours..just use water and fingertips...tks..it works for me

    what about bad feet with hard

    what about bad feet with hard dead skin caked up on the heals?

    Soak them for an hour a day

    Soak them for an hour a day in vinegar (white or apple cider vinegar will do). Dry them and rub aloe vera gel into the hard skin and the healthy skin around it. Then rub in jojoba oil. Do this in the evening when you won't have to wear shoes again for a few hours, to let air get to your feet (fresh socks and open slippers are OK to keep feet warm).

    In the morning, rub raw coconut oil into your feet and then put on your socks and shoes.

    It will take time to undo what's taken years to develop, but only a few weeks. Consistency and persistence will bring fresh healthy soft feet.

    This I promise will work!!

    This I promise will work!! You will need listerine, apple cider vinegar, Sally's beauty supply Mr. Pumice Bar, two basins filled to your ankle level with hot water that you can stand. Measure out 1/2 cup into each basin the Listerine and apple cider vinegar. Soak your feet for about 10 to 15 minutes and then use the Mr. Pumice Bar to scrub the heels of your feet and work your way to the front of your feet. Scrub feet thoroughly then rinse and apply pure shea butter and cover your feet with socks. Try this twice a week on your feet and you will see the difference within two weeks. Hope this helps you.

    Try creating your own sugar

    Try creating your own sugar or salt scrub by combing 1 part oil (olive oil, coconut oil) with 2 parts sugar/salt. Also you'll need some shea butter.

    Before bed, soak feet for 10 minutes then scrub, rinse, dry. Follow with pure unrefined shea butter.

    You can also make a shea butter lotion bar to moisturizer throughout the day. Mix 1 part shea, 1 part oil, 1 part beeswax. Melt and pour into a mold to cool and harden. - Maia, Astrida Naturals