I never really considered how lucky I was with my skin type until very recently. I have always taken for granted the fact that my facial skincare routine is often a babywipe and splash of water, that moisturizer is not often necessary (although I still apply it everyday for SPF protection) and that my limbs always feel reasonably soft without having to slather on creams and lotions after showering. Of course, I still did all of this, because I enjoyed it, but not because I needed to.
My once young, nubile skin has now let me down.
Where there was once smooth skin, there is now dry, parched old lady skin. The steroids I am taking for my Crohn's flare has not only gifted me the huge feet and legs, but now that that particularly unpleasant side effect has been dealt with, every last drop of moisture has been sucked out of my skin. I feel like a withered old cactus.
I noticed at first a little dry cough. I began having to clear my throat often to stop that hoarse, arid feeling. Next came dry, itchy eyes. I have to blink a few times to get some lubrication going, which makes me look like a maniac, but I'm down with that. Creates intrigue.
Then my hands started feeling outrageously dry, crepey and tight, and the end of my fingertips became dimpled. They suddenly aged about 30 years, with teeny tiny fine lines appearing where usually the skin would be plump and shiny.
After bathing, I noticed that the skin on the front of my shins was dry and scaly, and cracking in places.
I am massive fan of my Nivea Soft hand cream, which I usually apply a couple of times in the afternoon in the office -- but for the scent more than its purpose -- but suddenly it just wasn't enough. This called for the big guns.
A few creams have been my saviors in the last few days, when typing became uncomfortable due to that horrible feeling of leathery, dry skin bouncing against the keyboard. Here are the potions that have patched me up and got me on my way.
Firstly, my boyfriend's Mum is awesome at buying Christmas and birthday gifts and she really didn't let me down this year - one of my gifts was a beautiful little tin of Steam Cream, a fragrant, light but somehow reassuringly rich moisturizer handmade in Devon and Japan. They use quality natural ingredients including orange flower water, lavender essential oil, cocoa butter, oatmeal infusion and rose absolute, and it smells divine. They then whack some steam into the mix, because, why the hell not?! They're the magicians here, I'm not going to question it.
Each tin is little piece of art, with artists and graphic designers contributing new designs regularly. I've been slapping this on with gay abandon -- IT SMELLS SO GOOD, Y'ALL.
That's my hands taken care of -- although Steam Cream can also be used on the face and body. But me being me, I'm greedy so I like to be able to use as many things as possible.
My face, now a flaky mess around the nostrils and with some dubious dry patches on my forehead, needed something a little thicker and richer than my usual light moisturizer. I stepped it up a gear and got out my pot of Philosophy's Hope In A Jar, and haven't looked back.
The smell is questionable at first, and being a smells girl it almost put me off, but I got used to it in a couple of days. The texture is rich but sinks in really quickly, so you aren't hanging around looking like you've just been chucked out of a bukkake party.
As for my body, I've been bathing in my Laura Mercier Ambre Vanille Honey Bath, because it is the richest and most indulgent bubble bath I own and although my skin is parched, I will NEVER give up my nightly soak. My skin would literally have to be peeling off in chunks before I stopped running those taps.
If you have never smelled the Ambre Vanille range, get thee to a shop that sells it immediately and prepare to be thrown into a whole world of pain whereby you suddenly need to be able to justify dropping forty dollars on something that you just pour under a tap and ends up down the plughole. Honest to god though -- it is worth it. Put it on your birthday/Easter/Christmas list immediately.
After dragging myself out of the tub, I've been making sure I cover every freckle-covered centimeter of my body in Weleda's Wild Rose Pampering Body Lotion. I love a rose scent, and this one -- along with REN's Moroccan Rose Otto range -- actually smells convincingly like a bunch of fresh blooms. The lotion is thick without being greasy and sinks in fast so I don't have to hang out naked in my freezing cold bedroom for too long. I am really loving Weleda's products -- I wrote about their Lavender Bath Milk before and still absolutely love it.
So these are the products that have been keeping me sane while new side effects pop up daily to throw me off balance. Have you got any top tips for dry skin? As it's a whole new adventure for me! Does blinking 380 times a minute make a person look crazy? What lotions and potions have you been buying lately? Holler.
Chatting prescriptions over on Twitter: @Natalie_KateM.