How I’m Surviving This Outrageously Dry Winter

Growing up in Ontario, I developed a thick skin. Not in terms of bullies or anything, I just literally grew skin that was somewhat winter resistant.

At least I think I did – I have memories of waiting for the school bus in knee deep snow in the 7 AM darkness, wearing my school uniform (which, on the lower half, consisted of a kilt and tights) and not dying in the cold. Incidentally, this is my version of “in my day I walked to school uphill, both ways, in three metres of snow!”

When I moved to Vancouver 12 and a half years ago, I lost my winter survival abilities. My hair was permanently frizzy due to the high moisture levels, but my skin was well moisturized all year round. Before long, I was fully acclimatized to the “Wet Coast”, as they say.

This year’s winter has been abnormally cold and dry. So very, very dry. I generally have dry skin to begin with, but this is a whole new level. Even my eyebrows are dry. Really.

I have developed a toolkit of sorts tide me over until the moisture returns. Here’s what it consists of:



If your hands are dry as heck, try donning a pair of gloves as often as you can while you’re outdoors. I happened to win a snazzy pair of orange North Face gloves a few months ago (shout out to the Whistler Half Marathon), which have been perfect for the little running I have been doing. The rest of the time I wear those cheap black gloves that you can get at the dollar store. I have multiple pairs tucked away in purses and coat pockets, so a pair is never far away.

Rocky Mountain Soap Co. Body Butter


I have written about my love of Rocky Mountain Soap Co. products before. In case you missed it the first time around, the story is that they used to have a store in Whistler. I became addicted to their products, but then the store closed. They have a location in the Bentall office towers in Vancouver, but it’s only opened on weekdays so I typically just place my order online.

All of their products are fantastic, but the body butter is essential this time of year. I just worked my way through my Vanilla Candy Cane one (a limited edition Christmas smell), but I have tried all of the scents and I like them all. Lavender and Vanilla Coconut are two of my favourites, but you can’t go wrong with regular old unscented.

Saje Super Cream


When you must pull out the big guns, look no further than the Sweet Dreams Intensive Moisturizer from Saje. This is the real McCoy, folks. A little goes a long way, but I wish it went longer – at $46.95 for a teeny pot, this is quite the investment. Luckily, these dry winters don’t come very often in Squamish, or else I would have to give up buying groceries in order to afford a stash of this super cream.

Use this sparingly before bed. If you have regular skin, you can get away with using it once or twice a week (and thus making it last way longer, lucky you). As a human raisin, I use it about 5 times a week – and sometimes as a hand cream, when I’m feeling fancy.

The closest Saje is in Vancouver, or you can order online. It smells like the yellow lotion from Clinique, kind of (in case you’re wondering).

L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil


On the one hand, soap tends to dry out your skin. On the other hand, if you don’t use soap all winter, you will smell terrible. Solution: L’Occitane’s Almond Shower Oil. It manages to do the near impossible: cleaning without stripping away what little moisture your skin is trying to hold on to. You only have to use a little bit, so it last awhile. I’m a fan year-round, but especially this winter.

Wild Bella’s Coffee Scrub


Dry skin requires exfoliation, and I have found the perfect scrub: Wild Bella’s coffee scrub. My friend makes this in Whistler and I am a true believer. I’ve used the Sugar Pie Vanilla body scrub, and it smells like a tasty frappuccino. Fair warning: it will make your shower temporarily look like it’s covered in dirt, but the super moisturizing coconut oil is very excellent.


Alright, time to count how many times I used the word “moist” (and its various iterations) in this post: 8.


5 thoughts on “How I’m Surviving This Outrageously Dry Winter

  1. Ah, dry skin. You get that from our side of the family I’m afraid, specifically, Grandad. Never seen anyone with dryer skin than him, he was always itching. Until he discovered Avon’s Skin So Soft bath oil. And then he smelled like a girl, but he didn’t care. (Guys didn’t go for moisturizers and such in those dark ages, so using a scented bath oil was quite daring!) Your aunt D and I both have the same problem, so I feel your pain. You didn’t mention shampoo. I use a different shampoo in winter than in summer. Burt Bees Baobab More Moisture Shampoo. Makes my hair greasy in summer, but perfect when the weather gets dry!

    Always fun to read your adventures in the wild west. Keep ’em coming.


  2. Do you find Squamish/ Whistler area to be particularily rough on the skin? I’m a native Vancouverite who normally only has skin problems when I’m in dry harsh climates such as Alberta in the winter or a desert environment. But I moved to Squamish 6 months ago and my skin has never been worse. Even now after it has warmed up.


    • DEFINITELY in the winter – I am soooo dry in the winter, but I seem to get back to normal in the spring/summer/fall. I feel like Vancouver has the perfect climate and moisture year-round – definitely prime conditions for excellent skin (for those of us with dry skin, at least). Any tips? I use Rocky Mountain Soap body butter in the winter and body oil in the summer.


      • I’ve become a huge fan of the entire L’Occitane almond line. Also for us excessive hand washers, Body Shop’s almond conditioning hand wash, which is soap-free, is just about the only hand cleanser that doesn’t dry out my hands. Vaseline is also a go-to, but must be put on in a thin layer and blotted with a cloth or paper towel to soak up the excess. Still trying to find the perfect products for my face though.


      • Ohhh Occitane is a must! I use the shower oil and their hand lotion is like no other. For face, I use the Rocky Mountain cleansing oil (I think that’s what it’s called) before bed. I think you’re supposed to rinse it off or something, but I don’t bother – I just put a bit on and let it do its thing. Good luck in your quest!


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