I have my maternal and paternal grandfathers to thank for my red curly hair. I also have them to thank for my fair, extremely dry and sensitive skin.
I lived in New York for 7 years, and for 7 years New York winters wrought havoc on my face. In that time I tried and tested every conceivable brand of moisturizer, saw dermatologists, tried prescription face wash, bought humidifiers for my office and my apartment, all in an attempt to rescue my complexion from the harsh, dry winter air.
Surprisingly, the only thing that seemed to work was Nivea Creme, which definitely helped, but occasionally I would still get dry patches and rough spots, despite moisturizing with a thick layer of the stuff night and day.
I bought a huge tub of the stuff before I moved to India, and when I blew through it I went in search of a more natural alternative. At a market in Mysore, I stopped at an essential oils stall and asked the merchant what the best oil was for dry skin. He recommended almond oil.
I was somewhat skeptical given the source of this advice, but was willing to try it anyway, since I didn't yet know where to find American branded products and I needed a moisturizer urgently. As soon as I got the bottle home, I poured some on my fingertips and massaged it onto my face. I immediately felt that my parched skin was getting a long overdue drink. The oil shimmered on my face for a few minutes until it was absorbed completely, leaving me with soft, glowing skin. I was hooked.
I began using it daily, morning and evening. I'd splash water on my face in the morning, then after gently drying with a towel, I'd rub the magic oil into my skin and leave it for a few minutes. When I was ready to put on makeup, if there was any residual oil on my skin, I'd dab my towel on my face until the high shine was gone, then proceed with makeup application. At night I'd rub it on my face after first cleansing with a gentle cleanser (right now I use Fresh soy face wash), and leave the oil on to soak in overnight. I noticed a visible difference in my ski:, less irritation, and more even color and tone.
I then realized I could use almond oil as a body moisturizer too. It's perfect for applying right after a shower. A little bit goes a long way, and leaves you with a soft glow from head to toe. Added bonus: many almond oils are packaged in glass bottles. My 100mL bottle has lasted me nearly 6 months.
Through my research, I've read a lot about how much water it takes to produce almonds, which left me concerned that I might have to find a more sustainable alternative to my beloved almond oil. However, I recently came across an article produced by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, which purported that though the almond's relative water consumption may be high, its carbon footprint is relatively low:
In a multi-year lifecycle assessment analyzing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions associated with typical almond orchard production systems in California, a team of researchers found that 1 kilogram of almonds produces less than 1 kilogram of carbon emissions. (For comparison, the Environmental Working Group estimated that beef causes more than 20 kilograms of CO2-eq emissions, cheese more than 10, and beans and vegetables around 2.)
Considering my Nivea Creme contains petroleum-derived ingredients, I feel good about my choice of almond oil as an alternative.
What other natural oils and moisturizers do you use?