While the arrival of Jack Frost symbolizes outdoor beauty and serenity, with blankets of white snow, crackling fires and lush evergreen, it's hardly as picturesque for the human condition.
Almost impossible to escape, cooler temperatures and drier conditions bring chapped lips, cracked fingers and itchy skin.
A good idea year-round, homemade, all-natural skin care is especially soothing and calming to skin during this most vulnerable season. Natural ingredients, such as oatmeal, pumpkin and milk, do a body good when they're eaten. But they do good things on the outside, too. And these wholesome ingredients are cheaper and purer than chemical-laden drugstore products.
Rogue Valley writer Janice Cox, author of "Natural Beauty at Home," has been a fan of natural products since childhood, when she made beauty remedies with her grandmother.
"I think natural is as popular as ever," Cox says. "With our mothers and grandmothers, it used to be out of necessity. Then it became kind of trendy. Now I think a lot of people are doing it to save money. So it's all three things: It's healthy, it's convenient and cost-effective."
Emily Desmond, owner of Ashland's Emz Blendz, says using natural products becomes a way of life when people start to notice changes in their skin.
"I think that people are becoming more and more aware that what they put on their skin is absorbed directly into their bodies, and they're becoming more conscious of everything," Desmond says.
"The whole organic movement has really influenced people. They realize that natural products do as good or better a job and are even a nice way to pamper themselves ... And they actually can make some of them from their own kitchen."
NATURAL SKIN-CARE TIPS
When it comes to winter skin care, experts Janice Cox and Emily Desmond recommend using a rich cream after washing your hands, keeping lip balm within reach and remembering to protect your skin from harsh UV rays, even on cold afternoons. While generations of women have known about simple beauty tricks such as mayonnaise for hair-conditioning, oatmeal in a bath for dry skin or cucumbers over the eyes, Cox and Desmond go a few steps farther in these recipes that rival fancy drugstore goodies.
Chocolate-Walnut Body Polish
From Janice Cox
Ingredients: 1/2 cup raw sugar, 1/4 cup walnut oil (or any light cooking oil), 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
Directions: Mix all ingredients together until well-combined and spoon into a clean jar.
To use: In the shower or tub, massage into damp skin. Rinse well afterward. Yield: 7 ounces
Energizing Bath Salts
From Janice Cox
Ingredients: 1 cup Epsom salts, 1/2 cup sea salt, 1/2 cup baking soda, 4 to 5 drops essential oil of peppermint (optional: natural food coloring to color salts for gift-giving)
Directions: Mix together all ingredients and stir well. Pour mixture into a clean, dry container.
To use: Add 1/2 cup of bath salts under running water while you draw your bath. Relax in the tub for 15 to 20 minutes.
Yield: 16 ounces
Lavender-Mint Lip Balm
From Emily Desmond
Ingredients: 1 ounce pure beeswax, 1 ounce extra-virgin olive oil, 1 ounce apricot-kernel or jojoba oil, 10 drops lavender essential oil, 10 drops spearmint essential oil, 1/2 teaspoon vitamin-E oil
Directions: Melt beeswax in a double boiler, add olive oil, apricot kernel or jojoba oil, essential oils and vitamin E. (If you can't find pure vitamin-E oil, you can puncture vitamin-E capsules and squeeze the oil out).
Mix and pour into a clean, recycled glass jar. Let cool.
Winter Dryness Remedy (healing skin salve)
From Emily Desmond
Ingredients: 1 ounce pure beeswax, 2 ounces cocoa butter, 2 ounces shea butter, 5 ounces extra-virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon vitamin-E oil, (optional) 1 teaspoon eucalyptus essential oil
Directions: Melt beeswax and butters over low heat in a double boiler, add olive oil and vitamin E. Pour into a clean glass jar, let cool.