When shopping for soap, many people buy the one that smells the best. But for those who suffer from dry skin - particularly in the winter - following your nose can have itchy consequences.
When shopping for soap, many people buy the one that smells the best.
''I know for myself, if it's something that the smell is fabulous, you'll look forward to a shower or bath with that product,'' said Marla Bosworth, owner of the Back Porch Soap Co. in Duxbury, Mass. ''It's definitely the No. 1 or 2 selling point.''
But for those who suffer from dry skin - particularly in the winter - following your nose can have itchy consequences.
Many mass-produced soaps, the kinds available at almost any supermarket, contain detergents and chemicals like sodium lauryl sulfate that dry out skin. Bosworth recommends that those who itch in the winter carefully read labels.
''And lean toward something more handmade,'' Bosworth said. ''Handmade soaps aren't going to have (those chemicals).''
People who get dry skin would also do well to select ''superfatted'' soaps - those infused with extra oils. Often these soaps include shea or cocoa butter, both of which help your skin retain moisture.
Bosworth said for those with sensitive skin, soaps made from olive oil are also a good bet.
Bosworth said buyers should beware of deceptive packaging. Just because the label says the soap has added moisture doesn't mean it won't dry out your skin.
''You've got to go back to the ingredients, knowing what goes into a product,'' Bosworth said. ''Even the word 'natural' is overused.''
Ryan Hebert, manager of Common Sense Wholesome Food Market, said many soaps use chemical-based fragrances. He said soaps scented with essential oils reduce the amount of chemicals your body has to absorb.
''In the grocery store, a lot of products are created to have a really high lather,'' Bosworth said. ''People think if it's a big lather it's a really good clean, but a big lather may just mean the body is being stripped of its oils.''
A.J. Bauer may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are several things you can do when bathing to keep your skin from drying out.
While showering or bathing, use warm water and limit the duration. The longer the shower and hotter the water, the more oils your skin loses. Try to keep it under 15 minutes.
When the shower's over, pat yourself dry instead of excessively wiping with the towel. Leave a little bit of moisture on the skin.
Use a moisturizer to provide a seal over your skin. This helps keep water from escaping. If your skin is really dry, try using a body oil. Also, apply moisturizer right when you get out of the shower.
When dressing, select clothing made of natural fibers, such as cotton and silk. These allow your skin to breathe. Wool can be an irritant, so wear a cotton undershirt under that sweater.