Nearly everything about winter weather is tough on skin. Brutal, cold wind outside and dry heat indoors can result in itchy, chapped and even cracked skin. While the beauty industry has created countless products to help address these issues, some of the best skin care products might already be hiding in your kitchen. Sookyung Suh, owner and creator of SAVi skin care (available at Wild Rose Boutique in downtown Springfield), uses only natural, food-grade ingredients when creating her line of scrubs, salves and creams.
Suh, who holds a doctorate in instructional systems, works as an organizational change management and human performance expert and researcher with SIU School of Medicine by day. A busy mother of two, she began experimenting with homemade skin care nearly 10 years ago when her eldest daughter, then a toddler, was diagnosed with eczema.
"I'd always been interested in skin care, but never really thought that I could make my own until my kids started having issues. The more I looked into it, the more I learned how helpful oatmeal baths and certain calming creams can be," she said.
Suh, a trained researcher, put her skills to good use looking into the science of natural skin care. "I continued to play around with different formulas and found that these homemade products really worked for my girls," Suh said. "I grew up in South Korea where the holistic way of living, attention to what you eat and what you put on your skin, is much more emphasized than it is here in the U.S. When I was little, if I ever got burnt, my mom would make up a paste of different things and put it on the burn to pull the heat out. So, it wasn't foreign for me to play with food and put it on my face. When you go to Korean saunas, they have milk baths and yogurt facials... there are lots of food-type ingredients that are also great for your skin."
Combatting the effects of winter weather on your skin requires a multifaceted approach, advises Suh. "A mistake that a lot of people make is not moisturizing in layers. Think about your skin like a plant – if the plant is really dry when you water it, the water initially just runs off the surface. You have to let a little water seep in first before more can soak in. So, if you slather a thick layer on top of dry skin, it's just going to sit on top and not penetrate. Instead, start with something thinner, such as a water-based-type serum, followed by a light lotion and then a richer cream at the end," Suh explains.
Be sure to also hydrate from the inside out by drinking lots of water and using a humidifier. Suh shared her top pantry staples for glowing skin:
Honey and unrefined sugar are rich in vitamins, antioxidants and antimicrobial compounds, honey has been used for skin and wound care for centuries. A natural humectant and emollient, honey also has anti-wrinkle effects. Raw sugar is a gentle exfoliant and natural source of alpha hydroxy acid, which encourages skin turnover, resulting in a youthful glow.
Infused oils made from cold-soaking healing botanicals such as lavender, calendula, arnica and rose petals in safflower or sunflower oil for several weeks, or even months, for maximum potency.
Oats moisturize and calm your skin. Oats work great just mixed with water or yogurt and used as a cleanser every other day.
Yogurt and dry milk powder contain lactic acid, which gently exfoliates and moisturizes skin.
Brown Sugar Coconut Scrub
The basic formula is two parts sugar to one part oil, with the oil being half coconut and half lighter oil, such as safflower. From there, you can experiment with different essential oils and herbs.
1 cup granulated cane sugar (preferably unrefined)
1 cup dark brown sugar
cup coconut oil
¼ cup sunflower or almond oil
20-40 drops (depending on potency) essential oils of your choice
Other optional add-ins from your kitchen include lemon or lime zest, ground cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg or vanilla extract.
Combine the sugars and oils in a mixing bowl and mix well with a fork to combine. Add more sugar or sunflower oil as needed to achieve your desired consistency. Add essential oils, extract or spices as desired. Package in glass jars and store in a cool dark place.
Cleansing Oatmeal Scrub
2 tablespoons dried chamomile flowers (or use the contents of two chamomile tea bags)
2 tablespoons dry milk powder
½ cup oatmeal
Combine the chamomile, dry milk and oatmeal in a blender or food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse powder. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place. To use, combine a tablespoon of the oatmeal scrub with an equal amount of water in the palm of your hand. Use a circular motion to gently scrub your face or anywhere that needs extra care, then rinse with tepid water. Follow with a light moisturizer.