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Winter Skin and Hair Care: What to Buy vs. What to DIY

When it comes to caring for your skin and hair during the college hibernation months, some issues often arise with over-drying, mineral deficiencies, and the effect of cabin fever on your immune system. Solutions in the realms of health and beauty are ambiguous, with an overwhelming amount of products on the market and online forums that all claim to have your answer. Not to mention factoring in whether the source is even reliable, or has been provided an incentive for promoting whatever is attempting to lure your persuasion.
With this in mind, I have found myself resorting to classic methods of trial and error in order to separate fact from fiction to answer questions such as: Is it worth it to buy expensive makeup? What at-home remedies actually work? How does one best combat dryness? And what is the truth about cleansers? Such questions are essential to feminine health, particularly during the winter season. Our hair and skin can reveal so much about our wellness, and maintaining both will have a noticeably positive effect on your overall health. Here are my tried and true answers to a few of the most common questions about skin and hair health during the winter:

1. What cleanser should I use?
Cleansers are usually thought of as contingent on the individual. Therefore, it is not easy to make a general recommendation when everyone's skin is so unique. Most women experience dryness in the winter months, but some are oily or combination year-round. However, I do have a couple recommendations that are likely to work for a wide range of skin types.
If your skin is best describe as on the dry side, I would recommend using a bar of Dove. This simple cleanser is gentle and will moisturize while removing harmful dirt and oil to prevent breakouts. Dove offers multiple varieties including selections designed specifically for sensitive skin. Dr. Kaufman, a famed Washington D.C. dermatologist, recommends Dove to all of his patients because of its capacity to cleanse without stripping or irritating. It is the best and most healthy choice for normal to dryer skin.
For more oily, combination, or "problem" skin, I would recommend splurging on a Chanel facial cleanser. I have never been one to even entertain the notion of spending money on designer beauty products, but this is a trial-and-error that can't be ignored. After years of battling fussy combination skin and breakouts, I have finally settled on a cleanser that works: Chanel Precision's Mousse Douceur, a foaming cleanser designed to balance pH and remove pollutants. I would recommend visiting a Chanel counter and asking for a sample to try before committing. If you experience breakouts with simultaneous dryness or other issues under the umbrella of "problem skin" Chanel has other collections of cleansers, toners, and moisturizers which tailor to an array of ailments. Over winter break, I had some volunteers with different skin types test the Chanel products geared toward them and the feedback was unanimously. The subjects were pleased with their results, but some were turned off by the price of their products.

2. How can I cure chapped lips?
Chapped lips are almost always treated with the classic practice of slathering Chapstick over ones lips, plus the extra inch of skin around the mouth. This is both attractive and good for your skin. FALSE! Obviously no one is going to get all hot and bothered over the transparent glistening mustache you're rocking because you are trying desperately to halt the equally attractive cracking and flaking, but you probably actually do believe it's helping your situation. The truth of the matter is you're doing more hurt than help, especially for the skin around your lips. The more you use lip balm or like products, the less oil your body will produce to hydrate your lips. Essentially, your lips are forgetting how to keep themselves naturally hydrated and you will find yourself needing to use more and more chapstick.
The best solution in this case is taking the DIY route. An almond-sugar scrub is easy, cheap, and will actually cure your chapped lips rather than just treat them.

Almond-Sugar Lip Scrub Recipe:
1 part almond oil (1 tsp.)
1 part granulated sugar (1 tsp.)
Mix almond oil and sugar in a small container. Apply to lips with toothbrush everyday until chapped lips are cured.

3. What can I do about dry, dull hair?
Store-bought hair masks and conditioners can do wonders for dry winter hair, but homemade remedies often include the same active ingredients and win out with freshness. Oils found in fruits such as avocado do wonders for both your hair and skin if either ingested or topically applied. A rich hair mask made of avocado and olive oil can restore moisture and shine, smoothing dry winter hair. I used one whole avocado and eyeballed how much olive oil I would need to cover my hair. Scoop out the meat of the avocado into a container and mash, stirring in olive oil until you have enough to saturate your locks. Apply to your whole head of hair, twist into a loose bun, put on a shower cap, and wait at least twenty minutes. Then rise the mask off and shampoo and condition as usual. Another huge tip is to not comb or brush your hair when it is wet. Hair is at its most vulnerable right after you get out of the shower, when it's wet. Brushing wet hair can cause it to weaken, split, break, add to dullness. Using your fingers to comb through tangles while applying conditioner and an extra wide tooth comb after showering will keep your hair healthy and strong. 

Like any other part of us, the wellness of our skin and hair is largely dependent on the most essential health choices we make. A balanced and nutritious diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, regular exercise, plenty of water, good hygiene, and 7-8 hours of sleep each night will always make you look better.

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