Every winter, the dry air wreaks havoc on my hands. I feel like I’ve tried everything, but haven’t found something that really works. Do you have any suggestions?
~Desperately Seeking Salve
Absolutely! Vermont’s harsh winters require a vast set of winter strategies to survive and thrive, especially how to deal with cracked skin from the cold winter air gusting at negative temperatures. We’ve had a particularly cold year so far with two weeks of temperatures down to as cold as -20, and that’s when my knuckles start to crack.
One of my favorite things to do when I come in to work at Vermont's Own is to use some of our samples depending on what my hands look and feel like on a particular day. Ahh, the perks of the job! These are what I would call my top three winter skincare solutions:
For the worst dried and cracked skin use Bag Balm which was originally created with lanolin and other simple ingredients in 1899 to protect and heal chapped cow udders (a.k.a. bags) in the wintertime. Dairy farmers found their own hands softening and protected from the cold temps, too, after using it on their cows. Vermonters know the wonder and power of Bag Balm and almost everyone I talk to about it mentions the large tin that was reliably in their family’s medicine cabinet growing up. It’s the go-to solution for minor scrapes, burns and chapped skin. The old-timey tin still has the directions for use on cows, and it’s also great for pet paws. Luckily, they make smaller tins and travel tubes for a little portability.
For dry hands that need a little healing, I like Beauchamp’s Hand Lotion. When my hands are visibly dry, but haven’t quite cracked yet, I like Beauchamps because it’s not your typical lotion. It’s actually a liquid, but it doesn’t make your hands oily or greasy. It soaks right in and helps replenish your natural oils. It was formulated 70 years ago for marble workers in the Rutland area whose hands would get super dried out from all the rock dust. It’s still made by the original pharmacy that formulated it four generations ago. It’s a nice soothing liquid with a eucalyptus aroma.
For everyday use check out Gramp Lyford’s Country Salve. I like to use this on an everyday basis, but it’s thicker than your standard lotion, and doesn’t have an intense aroma. It’s a newer product made for use on the farm, but this one’s meant for the farmer. If you’ve ever seen a farmer’s hands, you know how hard they work and what a toll it takes on their skin. Two pharmacists created this one, and named it after one of their grandfathers, George Lyford. It’s light, greaseless and works great on all intensities of dry skin. It’s thick and concentrated, so a little goes a long way!
May your hands be soft, smooth and moisturized, Abbey