Once the skin of my hands start catching threads on my clothes I know winter has arrived. As a health professional I wash my hands eleventy times a day year round, but it’s not until the air withers and the temperatures drop that they become human Brillo pads.

It’s gross. If sandpaper and steel wool spawned a love child, that offspring’s texture is my skin. Not only is it displeasing to the eye, it hurts in a subtle, ever-present, burning kind of way. Like how I imagine venereal disease must feel.

So what’s the best mode of prevention? You guessed it: use protection. ID-100237228
Stay with me here, but for bad eczema, stubborn diaper rash, or emergency situations, my favorite option is Vaseline. The thick gloppyness is precisely what makes it so effective. You’re encasing yourself in slimy armor. Moisture sucking dry air is not getting in and the natural hydration of your skin is not getting out.

It has come to my attention however that not all folks feel comfortable slathering themselves in a petroleum derivative. I get it. Freak gasoline fights aren’t for everyone.

What I didn’t get is what other options existed. So I did some investigating. And now, I’ve found three, less fossil exploitative, alternatives to Vaseline to keep away VDs this winter (very dry skin).

1) Lanolin
For me, just saying the word conjures images of cozy, smiling lambs. That’s totally want I want my skin to feel like.


Lanolin is in fact derived from sheep. It’s a waxy, oily, substance their glands excrete to help waterproof their wool. While processing this for textiles and other worldly goods, lanolin is extracted from the wool fibers and is otherwise a waste product. Since it is naturally designed to protect the sheep’s coats from water, it’s absolutely able to provide a protective barrier between the greedy greedy winter air and human skin.

2) Shea Butter

In a past life, when I was the top seller of holiday gift packages in a single day at Bath & Body Works (and yes, that absolutely went on my med school applications), I could spout shea butter’s accolades blindfolded while gently steering you towards the line of spa products you’d shortly realize you never knew you needed all your life. Now a decade has passed and I can’t remember anything except shea butter is good for moisturizing. Like, really good. Like, so good you should buy an $18.95 tube of it for everyone on your gift list.


After a quick google search it all came screaming back to me in Cucumber Melon scented glory. Shea butter comes from the African Shea Tree. Specifically it is derived from the shea tree nut and is an organic plant fat that mimics the natural oils produced by our skin. Yes, the very oils that are sucked out by cold dry air, that you can now replace with topical shea butter!

Hooray for shea!

3) Waxelene 

I’m super curious about this one. I never heard of it until I was researching this column. It’s literally touted as the “petroleum jelly alternative,” and evidently has a foundation of beeswax. Clearly we’ll need to do some sort of product test/comparison/gauntlet with this guy.

I’ve already got a tub on order. You’re welcome.

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There are numerous other oily suggestions the internet has for skin moisturization (olive oil, coconut oil, mid-pubescent teens’ nasal oil), too numerous to include in this column.

I urge you to find an at home recipe or product that’s right for your skin. Don’t let VDs get the best of you this winter. I know you’re more responsible than that.