It’s easy to feel below par in winter: being cooped up inside results in decreased levels of vitamin D which can weaken your defences; cold, dark mornings crush your mood and harsh weather leads to skin that resembles sandpaper.
But there are several ways you can brighten up the dark months. Spending time outside in natural light, exercising, and stretching your body all help. As does accepting the natural slow-down at this time of year. While humans can’t hibernate, we can take cues from nature. It’s ok to take on less and keep things simple.
Plus, with a few bottles of essential oils in your armoury, you can build up your resistance to low moods, dry skin and other cold-weather complaints. Here are the best oils for winter well-being.
Best essential oils for skin during the frosty period
A drop in temperature and humidity, along with the effects of central heating, can cause dry, flaky, painful and itchy skin. For dry skin on your face and hands, you’ll need to hydrate from the inside and the outside. Drink plenty of water and use a richer moisturiser than usual. Carrier oils, which are usually made from nuts or seeds, are used to dilute essential oils (which can be too harsh to apply directly to skin). They’re also great to use on their own, because they have high vitamin and nutrient content, and are easily absorbed by rough skin.
Try rosehip oil, which is high in essential fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants. It’s a popular choice with skincare experts for good reason: it’s packed with vitamins A, C, D and E, which are known for their antioxidant properties, and rich in oleic and linoleic acids, which are known for their moisturising properties.
Sweet almond oil is protein-rich and high in vitamin D, and also works to soften and plump dry skin. It’s the perfect choice if you’re prone to eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea, all of which can flare up in winter, as it is gentle on sensitive skin. Known skin saviour vitamin E oil is another powerful antioxidant which can balance free radicals and help protect the body from pollution and weather damage.
Pick your carrier oil and gently massage a few drops onto the face, neck and hands twice a day during the colder weather, or put a couple of drops into your usual moisturiser or hand cream. Chapped lips? A natural carrier oil can ease dry lips just as well as a shop-bought lip balm. Just rub in a couple of drops of coconut oil, shea butter, jojoba oil, almond oil or avocado oil.
Best essential oils for hair during the chilly weather
It’s not just skin that suffers in chilly weather. Your hair can dry out too, becoming weak and brittle. And while it might be hiding under a woolly hat for the next few months, there are a handful of natural ingredients to boost its natural moisture and keep it feeling healthy whatever the weather.
You’ve probably seen argan oil on the ingredient lists of commercial shampoos and conditioners. It has an impressive array of health-giving qualities: it’s an antioxidant which is high in both fatty acids and vitamin E, so it can deeply hydrate the hair, help to avoid breakage, and seal in nutrients. Shea butter can reduce frizz, rosemary oil is said to help to prevent hair loss, while studies have shown that macadamia oil can be used to strengthen and tame unruly locks.
You can make a winter hair treatment using 10 drops of carrier oil (either argan oil, shea butter or macadamia oil) and two drops of rosemary oil. Massage your scalp for 10 minutes. Leave the oil for 20 minutes, then wash out.
Best essential oils for winter moods
As pre-Christmas pressure mounts, work ramps up, and daylight hours decrease, it’s no wonder that moods can be fractured at this time of year. The calendar may be filling up, but it’s important to carve out time to meet your own needs.
Essential oils cannot cure serious mental health issues, but they can positively affect the body and improve how you feel. Here are some quick and natural ways to give yourself a lift:
The scent of eucalyptus oil can have a calming effect and help to clear the mind. For an invigorating start to the day, put two drops of eucalyptus oil into your shower. Or, diffusing some eucalyptus oil in the room you spend most time in can lift your spirits, as well as helping to eliminate airborne bacteria.
Frankincense oil has de-stressing qualities, while light and bright sweet orange oil can also raise your mood. Meanwhile, studies have shown that clary sage oil can dull the effects of the stress hormone, cortisol. Try putting 6-8 drops into your bath, or mix it with a carrier oil like jojoba for a relaxing self-massage before you go to sleep.
Best essential oils for deep sleep
Being well-exercised, well-fed and well-rested is at the heart of winter well-being. And a bath before bed can aid some decent shut-eye. Certain essential oils are not suitable for use in the tub, so make sure you read the label. It’s also important to mix your oils with a carrier oil so that the oil doesn’t just sit on top of the water.
Sweet orange oil works well with fellow relaxant, lavender. To make a soothing bath oil, add 1 to 2 cups of bath salts along with 1 tablespoon of carrier oil (coconut, jojoba, or sweet almond are good choices), then add up to 6 drops of essential oils.
Winter well-being – Quick hacks
- Feeling a bit coldy? Use a couple of drops of pine needle, tea tree or cypress oil for a steam inhalation or in a diffuser. These can alleviate congestion and zap germs.
- Make a foot rub using a few drops of tea tree oil with some coconut oil. An overnight foot treatment is said to help relieve dry coughs.
- Stress headaches can be eased with peppermint oil, which also acts as a decongestant, so diffuse some in a room you spend a lot of time.
- Aches and pains? Add a couple of drops of either black pepper, cardamom or marjoram oil to a carrier oil. Massage these into your legs, back, neck or other tender points.
- Regular hand washing is essential to ward off bugs, but you can also keep germs at bay with a DIY hand sanitiser.