When I think of winter, my thoughts turn to my favorite sweaters which make me smile, but then I get all kinds of itchy in anticipation of dry skin and hair.
As a woman of color, I also get “ashy” if I don’t keep the moisture situation under control, turning a lovely shade of dove gray -- at least that’s what I think Sherman-Williams and J.Crew call it -- where people seem to regard my dry skin and dull hair with a mix of mild repulsion and a compulsion to stand me next to the walls in their bedrooms, judging whether or not I’d make a soothing tone to which they should wake up every morning.
The best cures that I've found are oils. And I love good hair oils that can double as body oils. They are the wind beneath my happy little wings, with a small amount rubbed on my hair to keep it supple and hydrated and larger amounts slathered on wet skin right out of the bath to prevent dryness and keep my skin do-ably soft.
Here are my five favorite double duty dry skin and hair solutions (in no particular order) -- but three of them you might recognize from your very own kitchen:
Phyto Specific Baobab Oil - This oil from Phyto comes from the baobab tree in Africa, and has healing and hydration properties that are not to be believed. Able to hold moisture for extended lengths of time on the African plains, this extract works on stressed, dry hair and skin, repairing protein from the inside out. Run it through your hair, rub it on your body and revel in the softness. It’s super new but I’m already obsessed.
Moroccan Oil Gold Glimmer Spray - This goes beyond the healing powers of argan oil, strengthening hair and helping it stay protected and resilient. It's lightweight and leaves behind a gorgeous shine on your skin without making it look too slick. It’s genius, really.
Olive oil - The first time my boyfriend saw me purposefully apply olive oil onto my hair and my arms, he almost fell out off the couch. “Um, you COOK with that, right?” Yep, but I also use it to heal hangnails, keep my body from turning to dust and blowing away, and make my dry hair easier to work with. My great aunt used to cover her entire body in olive oil every night before cooking and would let the kitchen heat help it sink in. She had crazy soft skin until she passed away at 74. Like, almost no wrinkles. So, I'm keeping this tradition going.
Organic coconut oil - I had a run of video shoots and stressful hair experiences in early September where people insisted on applying heat and hair spray to my fragile hair almost daily. My way of sending flowers to my hair after treating it so horribly was to douse it in coconut oil and brush it through. Coconut oil and its healthy fats can SAVE overworked hair and skin. It sinks in instantly and the softness cannot be believed. Trader Joe’s knows me: I walk in, I buy four jars at a time along with groceries and I mysteriously come back for more in about a month. I use a LOT of it.
NARS Monoi Body Glow II - This is actually a massage oil for the skin that leaves a healthy glow that smells like a vacation to a tropical island without getting too fruity. But the happy surprise ending to this product is that it can also leave dry ends soft and manageable without weighing your hair down. Rub it in on yourself or someone you love -- play Body Glow Naked Twister if you want -- then rub some on your hair and go about your day. Everyone will be soft and happy.
But let’s discuss your own double-duty beauty solutions. Do you have beauty favorites that serve more than one purpose? How do you cope with dry winter skin and hair?