Friday, April 19, 2013

Financial Friday: Skin Care

Spring is here! 

Temperatures are rising, and with that comes skirts, shorts, and tank tops.

If you have skin issues, it's the time of year you dread.

I have a skin condition called keratosis pilaris. Wikipedia defines keratosis pilaris as this:

Keratosis pilaris (KP, also follicular keratosislichen pilaris or chicken skin) is a common, autosomal dominantgenetic follicularcondition that is manifested by the appearance of rough, slightly red, bumps on the skin. It most often appears on the back and outer sides of the arm (though the forearm can also be affected), and can also occur on the thighshands, and tops of legs, sides, buttocks, or any body part except glabrous skin (like the palms or soles of feet).[1] Often the lesions will appear on the face, which may be mistaken for acne.[2]

So pretty much I have red bumps, similar to what acne looks like but feels like sandpaper, on the back of my arms and covering my legs. It's unsightly and embarrassing. I hate spring and summer because it's visible, and people tend to comment, not because they're mean, but because they think I have a rash or something is wrong.

Now you're probably thinking, so why don't you do something about it?

That's the problem: there is no cure. Some treatments are available, but they're costly and don't always work.

What's even worse is my kids have it (figures, the one thing that they got from me had to be this!). Doctors always comment that their skin is extremely dry and I should use lotion, the school nurse will call me, mistaking it for a rash, and Paige especially is self conscious. Nate even has it a bit on his cheeks, but he's still at the age he doesn't really care.

I've spent lots of money on various lotions and creams to try and fix this. I've only had one lotion that's ever made the bumps smoother, but it only lasted a few hours (even though it claimed to be a 24 hour lotion), and the redness was still there.

Then I happened to stumble upon another possible treatment on Pinterest: coconut oil.

At first I was skeptical for various reasons:

1) It was affordable (on Amazon I found it for less than $8, and was available for free shipping on orders over $25).
2) You can do various other things with it, from cook with it to use it as diaper rash ointment and as a hair mask.
3) Even though many testimonials were saying that it helped their skin, nothing else would work for me, so the chances that this would help were very slim in my eyes.

After waiting a few months, I finally bit the bullet and placed my order. If it didn't work on my skin, well, at least I could cook with it, right?

All I have to say is OH MY GOODNESS.

After one application on the kid's skin and mine, there was a huge difference. Ryan, who had the least amount of bumps, was fully clear. Paige, Nate, and I were less bumpy, softer, and the redness was slightly faded.

After one week's worth of applications (I only do it after baths/showers; it absorbs quicker that way and you feel less greasy), our skin has never looked better. Now, don't get me wrong, it's far from perfect, but we're smoother and less red.

Other perks have been:
- It lasts 24 hours AT LEAST!

- After 2 applications on my stomach, Pete noticed my lovely stretch marks (thank you for those, Nathan....) were fading.

- It's an awesome eye cream! Just a tiny tiny amount dabbed around the eyes before bed makes me look more awake in the morning and I'm less droopy/wrinkly. Amazing what hydration can do! If I put too much on, it starts to run around my eyes, so just dabbing it with a tissue gets rid of all the excess oil.

- Paige and I have tried it once each as a hair mask. Paige has very thick and coarse hair that is impossible to get a brush through unless it's wet, and even then it's very difficult. We massaged about a tablespoon of oil into the bottom six or so inches of her hair, let it soak for about 45 minutes, then we washed it out twice. Her hair was so shiny and easy to brush afterwards! We just haven't had time to do it again, but we definitely will! I did it on mine, and used waaaay too much. I ended up having to wash my hair three times over two days in order to get it to not look greasy. But once I got it out, my hair was much more well behaved (which it never is!).

- Paige has ridiculously dry ankles. This has helped immensely!

- You use so much less than you normally would with any other lotion I've found. I normally have to use a hand full of lotion for each leg, but I'm using about a tablespoon, and it covers BOTH legs fully!

- It's really fun for the kids to watch: coconut oil is a solid, but melts with your body heat. They love watching me scoop out a chunk of white oil, then watch it as it melts and slides all over my hands.

Some tips:
- It definitely works best after showering or bathing. It absorbs quickly this way, so you're less likely to slip and slide on things or get oil on your clothing. I shower before bed usually, so the heat from being under blankets helps it absorb even better!

- Use small amounts to start out with. Less is definitely more!

There are hundreds of other uses for the coconut oil. I can't wait to see what else we can do with it!

For those of you interested, this is the one we use. The price has gone up, but Amazon tends to fluctuate their prices often, so I'm sure you could find it for under $8 again soon, or maybe even a different brand for cheaper!

Have you ever used coconut oil? What is your favorite lotion?

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