The Importance of Moisturising Your Skin this Winter

Whether your skin is a rich expresso brown, a deep toffee caramel, or creamy like the sands of Cape Town’s Camps Bay, moisturising your skin is essential. If you haven’t noticed, it’s winter (no, we do not have autumn in southern Africa). If you don’t already know what winter means, it means: “Double-up, and Double-down on the moisture”. Moisturising is a fundamental part of skincare, especially melanated skin.

We have (poorly) attempted to draw some comparisons between the shades of melanated skin and nature, but the truth of the matter is that melanated skin comes in more shades than there are countries and languages in Africa. There are as many shades of melanated skin, and it has unique characteristics and needs. We cannot dispute that melanin will POP in any photo you take on a sunny winter afternoon, but not if you’ve skipped or cheated on your moisturising routine.

In this blog post, we will delve into why moisturising is crucial for melanated skin and explore a few household items found that might be in your home that you might not normally use on your skin, but are great for moisturising your skin this winter. 

Let’s get the basics right

Melanated skin contains varying levels of melanin, Melanin is the pigment responsible for skin colour. Melanated skin has several unique properties, such as better protection against UV radiation and a slower ageing process. However, it also has specific challenges, including a tendency to look grey when dry, dryness, hyperpigmentation, and other sensitivities to environmental factors. Although it may be echoed often that melanated skin is more enduring against the harmful effects of the environment, it does not mean that you do not have to care for and protect your skin.

Melanated or not, you still have to care for your skin. Giving your skin the care and protection that we recommend in this blog post can help your skin maintain its youthful properties. 

Here is why moisturising your skin is important – melanated or not

  1. Preventing Dryness and Ashiness: A little bit of melanin means that you don’t have the luxury of hiding dryness. Left to its own devices, melanated skin can appear ashy when it is dry, which is more noticeable on darker skin tones than it is on lighter skin tones. Regular moisturising helps maintain hydration and prevent a dull appearance. Avoid them ashy elbows at all costs Queen! Moisturised skin isn’t just for women though, you should also feel comfortable taking off your shoes or socks without worrying about how ashy your feet are, Qing.
  2. Maintaining Skin Barrier Function: Moistuirisng doesn’t just have aesthetic benefits, it also promotes a healthy skin barrier that protects your skin from inflammation and infection. A healthy skin barrier protects against irritants, allergens, and bad bacteria. Moisturisers help reinforce this barrier, keeping the skin resilient and reducing the risk of infections and irritations. Hydrated skin is more supple and less prone to developing fine lines and wrinkles. Regular use of moisturisers can slow down the ageing process, keeping the skin youthful and vibrant.

3. Soothing Sensitive Skin: Many people with melanated skin experience sensitivity to environmental factors and certain skincare products. moisturisers with soothing ingredients can help calm and protect sensitive skin.

4. Reducing Hyperpigmentation: Melanated skin is more prone to hyperpigmentation, where certain areas become darker than the surrounding skin. Keeping the skin well-moisturised can help even out the skin tone and reduce the appearance of dark spots.

Petroleum jelly (aka Vaseline) and its protective vs harmful properties

Petroleum jelly, often known by its brand name Vaseline (just like toothpaste often called Colgate and so many other examples). Petroleum jelly is a household staple that has been used for skincare for decades, especially as a protection mechanism against the harsh and dry winds of winter (and so-called autumn). Its versatility and effectiveness make it a go-to remedy for many skin concerns. Let’s dive into how petroleum jelly can benefit your skin, along with some of its potential drawbacks.

Some people (like us at Earthly Q and most of our customers) prefer to avoid petroleum-based products due to environmental concerns or personal preference. There are natural alternatives like shea butter or beeswax that provide similar benefits without the petroleum base, and we’ve got some alternative moisturising products for your skin that you might already have in your house in the last section.

Protection: Petroleum jelly is occlusive, which means it creates a barrier on the skin to lock in moisture.  Used with a water-based moisturizing cream, petroleum jelly can be especially beneficial for dry skin areas like elbows, knees, and heels.  If you suffer from dry or cracked skin, petroleum jelly can be a lifesaver. It can help prevent moisture from escaping your skin layer, as well as help to heal and soothe rough patches by creating a protective layer that prevents further moisture loss.

During winter or in windy conditions, applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly can shield your skin from the harsh elements, preventing chapping and irritation.

Not a Hydrator: While petroleum jelly locks in moisture, it doesn’t add any hydration to the skin. It’s best used in combination with a hydrating product underneath. For some people, particularly those with oily or acne-prone skin, petroleum jelly can clog pores and lead to breakouts. It’s considered non-comedogenic, but individual reactions vary. 

Petroleum jelly is great for protecting and soothing, but it doesn’t have the active ingredients needed to treat skin conditions and may have negative effects on your skin in the long run. While its barrier-forming ability is a benefit, it can also be a drawback. Because it creates such an effective barrier, petroleum jelly can make your skin feel suffocated if applied too thickly. It’s best used sparingly. If used excessively, it can trap dirt and bacteria against the skin, potentially leading to irritation or infection. Petroleum jelly can be more of a supportive player in your skincare routine. 

Moisturising items that might be in your house

Many households have access to natural and traditional ingredients that can be incredibly effective as moisturisers. These items are often used in the kitchen and not the bathroom or bedroom (depending on where and when you moisturise). Here are some items that might be in your kitchen that can double as skincare staples.

    1. Shea Butter: Widely available and used in many African households, shea butter is a powerful moisturiser rich in vitamins A and E. It provides deep hydration, soothes irritation, and promotes healing, making it perfect for dry and sensitive skin. Apply shea butter directly to your skin after bathing. Warm a small amount between your hands and massage it into your skin, focusing on particularly dry areas.
    1. Olive Oil: Another kitchen staple, olive oil, is rich in antioxidants and essential fatty acids. It helps lock in moisture, soothe irritated skin, and reduce the appearance of scars and hyperpigmentation. Create a simple moisturiser by mixing olive oil with a few drops of essential oil. Apply this mixture to your skin after a shower.
    1. Aloe Vera: Often found in gardens or as a household plant, aloe vera gel is known for its soothing and moisturising properties. It is excellent for calming irritated skin, reducing inflammation, and providing hydration. Apply fresh aloe vera gel directly from the plant to your skin. Leave it on for about 15 minutes before rinsing off, or let it absorb completely for lasting moisture.
    1. Honey: Frequently used in home remedies, honey is a natural humectant, meaning it draws moisture into the skin. It also has antibacterial properties, making it ideal for maintaining healthy, hydrated skin. Use honey as a face mask by spreading a thin layer over your face. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes before rinsing off with warm water.
    1. Avocado: Avocado pulp and oil are rich in healthy fats, vitamins, and antioxidants. Applying mashed avocado or avocado oil to the skin can provide deep hydration and nourishment, leaving the skin soft and smooth. Mash a ripe avocado and apply it to your face as a mask. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes before rinsing off with warm water.
    1. Castor Oil: Often used for hair care, castor oil is also beneficial for the skin. It has anti-inflammatory properties and helps retain moisture, making it great for dry and sensitive skin. Use castor oil as a night treatment. Apply a small amount to your face and neck before bed, allowing it to absorb overnight.

moisturising is vital for maintaining healthy, radiant melanated skin. By incorporating natural and readily available ingredients found in many of our homes, you can save yourself some money and effectively keep your skin hydrated and nourished throughout the cold and dry seasons of the year.

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