Want healthy hair and skin? See tips to beat the drys!
Margaret Boyles & Margaret Ross
January 3, 2023
For daily wit & wisdom, sign up for the Almanac newsletter.
Do you have dry hair, hands, scalp, 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.
Remedies for Dry Hair
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 1/2 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.
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.
Remedies for 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.
Remedies for 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 still a little damp. Do not scrub skin dry.
Choose a lotion brand that has petroleum jelly or lanolin high on the ingredients list.
For super-dry skin, use olive oil. Rub it in prior to a bath or shower. You may substitute peanut, sesame or sunflower oil.
Avoid steaming hot water or lengthy immersions, which will strip your skin of its natural oils. Dermatologists suggest taking shorter baths or showers in warm (not hot) water. If you have severe dry skin 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.
Wash gently. Vigorous scrubbing can further irritate sensitive skin. Gently 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.
Don’t go outside in any season without using SPF of at least 15 on your face and hands.
To soften dry skin, add 1 cup powdered milk to your bath. (It worked for Cleopatra, supposedly.)
Try adding lemon juice or vinegar to your bathwater. Soap, being highly alkaline, may make your skin feel itchy.
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 gently 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.
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 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.
Remedies for 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.
Remedies for 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 Beating Drys!
Forget the ideathat drinking plenty of water is the only thing necessary for keeping 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.
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.