Beauty Booty: My Favorite Products for Soft Skin

by Rachel on November 22, 2011

So apparently, it’s that time of year again when your skin starts flaking off and you (OK, not most of you) try your best not to look ashy.

When I lived in Michigan, I had having soft skin despite winter weather/indoor heat down to a science. Then I moved to Texas, got spoiled by the humidity, and stopped caring. Even though it’s still really warm down here, the humidity is easing up, and my skin is looking a bit rough. And since I realized I better prepare for the cruel, harsh, 50-degree winds in Kansas that I’ll face this week, I’ve been stepping it up a notch in the skincare department.

For those of you who have to deal with this every day…well, first of all, I’m sorry. I get it. And second, here is how I keep my skin soft when the weather would have it dry!

First, I start taking a fish oil supplement. Not only is it good for your heart and body, but it’s great for your skin. During my last year in Michigan, I started taking fish oil, and that spring it occurred to me that I had gotten through the winter months without  a dry skin problem. I still moisturized, but it was the first year I could remember that I didn’t have any dry skin on my face. I no longer had to worry that my lips were cracked or that I needed to exfoliate the hell out of the skin around my nostrils. From my extensive but purely anecdotal research, I’ve learned that a lot of my other Michigan friends had the same experience. This is definitely worth adding to your daily routine!

Next, I don’t shower all the damn time. I used to shower like twice a day and was amazed when I discovered on study abroad that not everyone does that. And I didn’t learn it from Europeans; I learned it from my classmates who were confused by why I insisted upon showering when I could be getting a head start on drinking. From a scientific point of view, most of your dead skin and body oils are shed into your clothes, so changing clothes is actually going to get you pretty clean — I learned that from Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars. (Side note: I’m actually fascinated by our cultural obsession with being clean and wrote a paper for a history class my senior year of college on the “cleanliness movement” in Southern America in the early part of the 20th century. It’s amazing to me how that continues to shape our approach to hygiene in the United States. Also, the paper was titled “The Dirty South.”) Anyway, now I just shower when I actually need to shower, which isn’t every day, and — surprise! — I am not That Girl (unless you mean That Girl Who Doesn’t Have Dry Skin).

After I shower (or don’t shower), I love body oils. Coconut oil is the most natural and economic option and I love it for moisturizer. I apply it right out of the shower to damp skin and it doesn’t make my skin too greasy (though I do let it sink in for a minute before I get dressed); it just makes it feel amazing. Replacing my moisturizer with coconut oil has made my skin better than ever…it just looks healthier now. I’m also really excited to try Leah’s recipe for homemade coconut oil face wash; I’m a big fan of using oil to clean and this recipe sounds perfect. (Oh and I prefer extra-virgin coconut oil, but I didn’t feel like going to three stores for it, so I went with regular old virgin. If you can find EV, go with that and definitely avoid the refined stuff! Remember if it’s not virgin or extra virgin, it’s slutty and even though we like slutty, we don’t like our slutty coconut oil. Except when we’re using it in slutty ways, which we do, but that’s just a whole other post.)

If you have really dry skin, you can layer moisturizer over the coconut oil to really seal in moisture.

The Nuxe body oil was a recent addition to my soft skin routine. I got it from a Birchbox sample and fell in love so I bought the full-sized bottle. While it smells amazing and makes me feel so chic and pampered every time I use it, it’s just too pricey to use every day. So now I use replace my coconut oil, so I now save that for special occasions when I want to smell really great and feel fancy. Only using my pricey beauty products for special occasions is how I can get a few splurge beauty products, even on a budget.

When I lived in Michigan, I slept with a humidifier in my room, but I don’t really need that here in Texas. But I did replace it with a new item this year.

I’ve always seen body brushes like this one in stores, and this year, I decided to go that route rather than using some store-bought exfoliating potion. I’ve been using the brush (which came from Whole Foods and cost $7) on my dry skin and the process is as exactly as bizarre and wonderful as it sounds. There are a lot of instructional videos on the Web because it’s actually a fairly common technique for clearing your body of toxins, but I don’t think you need to get complicated. You just gently brush your dry skin (toward your heart, if you’re feeling like you want to detox…and really, if you’re going to do it, you might as well detox while you’re at it, right?) until it’s just a little red. Then I hop in the shower to rinse all the dead skin away. (I also don’t use soap in the shower I take after body-brushing, as that’s drying, and the opposite of what I want to do.) And then I get up close and personal with my coconut oil.

So that’s about it! I’ve really simplified my routine over the past couple years and my skin is way better off because of it. I’m also saving money on products and my routine is way more natural now. It’s pretty much been a win all around.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Eirinn November 22, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Really glad you posted this! I was seriously thinking about beauty booty posts earlier today and was craving some more of them!

Started taking fish oil a few days ago, can’t wait for some results!

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2 Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie November 22, 2011 at 9:50 pm

I love body brushes, great call on including them!

Another great choice for dry hands is bag balm (http://www.walgreens.com/store/c/bag-balm-protective-ointment/ID=prod10744-product) it’s to DIE for. A doctor recommended it to me years ago on a flight and I’ve sworn by it ever since!

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3 Deva @ Deva by Definition November 22, 2011 at 9:57 pm

I am happy you posted this – and now I have a silly question: I have refrained from buying coconut oil as a moisturizer because I have VERY acne-prone skin and I worry about it clogging pores. Have you had any issues like that, or is coconut oil naturally non-comedogenic?

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4 Rachel November 22, 2011 at 10:30 pm

I’ve not had any issues, but I also don’t have acne-prone skin. However, if you read the link to the oil-based face wash recipe, Leah writes more about how it’s been great for her skin which is naturally oily and I’ll ask her to come weigh in here too!

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5 Leah November 23, 2011 at 11:35 am

So I have fairly acne-prone skin and I haven’t noticed more acne since I started oil-cleansing. In fact, when I went back to my usual commercial facewash for a weekend, I did notice more pimples. I’ve only been using the oil-cleansing method for around two weeks, so I don’t think I’m qualified to say for sure if it contributes to acne. I did a quick Google and found that coconut oil is supposedly one of the “high clogging probability” oils, so if you’re worried about it, try one of the low probability ones, like almond oil or olive oil! http://www.soapnuts.com/noncomo.html

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6 Deva @ Deva by Definition November 23, 2011 at 9:01 pm

thank you! My skin is of the “putting on a clean sports bra causes a pimple” persuasion, so this is good info to have – thank you both!

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7 Jenn November 23, 2011 at 2:37 am

I love your Beauty Booty posts, and this one focused on natural stuff is the best! I’m a little leary of putting oil on my skin (although I have dry skin), but I’ve wanted to buy it to experiment with cooking anyway…maybe this is the excuse I need to invest in it. (It’s pricey!)

If that goes well, I’ll think about the oil cleanser. I’ve heard great stuff about it, it just seems so counter-intuitive.

And a body brush is on my list now, of something to keep an eye out for. You should have gone into sales!

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8 Stephanie November 23, 2011 at 7:29 am

I love using coconut oil as moisturizer! It feels and smells delicious. Sometimes I feel a bit self-conscious because it’s so strong-smelling, but whatever! At least it smells good and natural. My hair gets really dry, so I never wash it with shampoo. I just use conditioner, friction and water. And I’m clean, promise.

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9 Stina November 23, 2011 at 9:31 am

I get really terrible dry skin in the winter. I’ve been known to have chunks of elbow skin just fall off. (Gross, right?!) I think it’s time to give the coconut oil a try since no commercial lotion or moisturizer ever seems to make the cut. I just have one question, does the coconut oil have a strong coconut scent? I love the smell of coconut, but the boyfriend can’t stand it. I’m pretty sure smelling like a giant walking coconut would be a one way ticket to not gettin any.

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10 Lindsey @ Stink and Hincks November 23, 2011 at 10:09 am

Okay, I am sold on the coconut oil. I’ve been using coconut body butter for years, and never thought to use the oil!

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11 Caitie November 23, 2011 at 10:55 am

Rachel, I’m a new, avid reader and first time commenter (I can’t believe THIS is the post I’m commenting on, of all of your other ones that I’ve read and loved, but whatever). Anyways, LOVE your writing style and your skill at commenting (hilariously) on everyday situations! I just moved to a new city for school and the water in my apartment is like swimming pool water: my skin is scaly and itchy all the damn time AND I’ve developed this gross case of acne on my chest that I think is mostly because of dryness, so I’ve been thinking about taking fish oil to help combat that (plus it’s good for your hair and skin and all that jazz). My hesitation is that friends and family tell me it makes them burp fish all the time and I don’t know if I’m willing to tolerate that. Have you or anyone else found this?

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12 Rachel November 23, 2011 at 11:23 am

Oh hayyy! Glad you decided to come out and say hello!

Re: fish burps. I have never had that problem, even before I started buying the odorless ones! But you may want to try those to be on the safe side. Let us know how it goes!!

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13 Megan C. November 23, 2011 at 11:14 am

I have always had dry skin issues my husband jokes he could use my heels and my elbows to sand things. I love coconut oil too! I’m definitely going to add the fish oil. I don’t shower as often either I shower when I need and use a moisturizing cleanser when I do. The other thing that helps is to add a little bit of olive oil to your regular lotion. It makes it more moisturizing.

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14 Rachel November 23, 2011 at 6:07 pm

LOVE coconut oil. I often use it to remove my eye makeup – nice & gentle. I also take a fish oil supplement every day. Great post Rachel!

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15 Ella, RD November 23, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Isn’t is amazing how the region you live in affects your skin? I grew up in the northwest and never moisturized; in NYC I only did in the winter (HELLO humid disgusting summers); in Vegas I moisturized twice a day on my face, winter AND summer; and living a few blocks from the beach in LA I rarely need to moisturize my face at all. Also – I second the body brush. Why spend $$ on expensive exfoliating creams when you can just use a fool-proof, cheap brush? Works wonders.

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16 Phoebe November 23, 2011 at 9:47 pm

I just started doing coconut oil about a month ago (just putting it on my face at night) and LOVE it. I’m going to start washing my face with it too using Leah’s mixture and method – thanks for the link!

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17 Rachel November 24, 2011 at 1:21 pm

a) That coconut oil looks like a jar of mayonnaise and made me wonder if that would be good for the skin. I googled it, apparently it’s a real thing!

b) I was literally just thinking to myself about how we as a culture get shamed into showering more than is necessary. I for one am far too lazy to make it a daily priority!

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18 April November 26, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Thanks for this! I’ve been showering only every other day in the fall and winter for a couple of years, and it definitely helps. I’m going to pick up some coconut oil as soon as possible.
I also need to start using my body brush again.

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19 Elina (Healthy and Sane) November 27, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Loved this post. I’m lucky enough not to have to deal with dry skin most of the time but I’ll use this trick when I need it. PS – for those that have a Trader Joe’s near them, I recently saw coconut oil there. I bet it’s even cheaper than WF! :)

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20 Rachel November 28, 2011 at 5:18 pm

I heard that TJs has it now — unfortunately didn’t see it, because there is no Trader Joe’s near me! I’m so jealous of those who can get it there…it’s like $6!

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21 Lora November 28, 2011 at 9:55 am

This post has already changed my life. Overnight, a little bit turned my hands from itchy, scaly, flaky, beastly things to something almost human. And I don’t know if the fish oil could possibly work this quickly but my face finally doesn’t hurt from the harsh winds.

For anyone still looking, I found a giant tub of non-slutty (errr extra virgin) coconut oil in the supplements aisle at my local Walgreen’s for $8.99.

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22 Sarah December 1, 2011 at 11:49 am

Really informative post–I just bought a jar of coconut oil and can’t wait to try it. Just FYI–there’s actually no difference between extra virgin and regular old virgin coconut oil. They just stole the names from the olive oil industry (where there is a difference between levels) to use as a marketing gimmick.

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23 Michelle December 1, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Goddammit, now I have no excuse not to buy coconut oil. I’ve been avoiding it for awhile now, despite my curiosity, thinking it was just another one of those healthy living blogger “things” (I’m looking at you, chia seeds) that makes you feel inadequate if you’re not willing to cough up $14 for it.

But I need this. I have really gross dry AND acne-prone skin. And a gross case of bacne from too much sweating (I think? Could be from something else). I need help. Haha.

Glad to hear TJ’s has it for $6!

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