Written by Denise Deby.

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There’s an upside to the seemingly endless winter we’ve been having. It’s that I’ve had the chance to try several products that help ease dry skin—the kind that results from cold weather and dry indoor environments—and I’m sharing this with you.

Granted, I tried only a few of the many eco-friendly products available now in Ottawa, but here are three that worked well (depending on one’s skin and hair type, of course):

Purple Urchin Winter Hand Balm was very effective in calming my dry, cracked hands. It contains natural ingredients and has a piney-lavendery scent. (It includes almond oil–I mention that in case nut allergies/sensitivities are an issue–and you’re advised not to use it if you’re pregnant.) It isn’t billed as a hair product, but it gave my hair shape in the way a texturizing creme or styling wax would. I picked it up at Westboro Organics, but you can find it at other places around town including Ottawa-based Purple Urchin itself.

worldBuzz hair (and body) dressing, made by Toronto-based WORLD, contains just beeswax, jojoba oil, coco crème and olive wax. Just a small amount works like a pomade or wax—but without the parabens, phthalates, sulfates or fragrances that many conventional products contain. It’s great for dry skin, too. I found WORLD products at terra 20.

Coconut oil is a great all-round moisturizer for skin and hair. When not warmed up, it’s in solid form, but quickly melts in your hands. As with the other two products above, a little goes a long way. (I picked up some Now solutions “100% natural” vegan unscented coconut oil ages ago at Whole Foods, and still have half a jar left.) You can find organic, non-GMO coconut oil in many stores, from Kardish to Bulk Barn to Loblaws, too.

Bonus tip: olive oil and argan oil also work well for both skin and hair.

In general, look for products without harmful chemicals: take along a guide to the “toxic ten” or “dirty dozen” substances to avoid, and check ingredient lists when you shop. Often, the fewer ingredients the better.

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