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Porter's Lotion for very dry skin- shared by Angela

Is a Solution for:
Dry Skin, Oily Skin
September 22, 2010 Reviewed by admin 16 Comments
See Angela's profile

With Copley’s and Julie Kay’s posts about their hand regimens, and the advance of cold, winter weather, I thought it was the perfect time to share my favorite dry skin lotion with the TIA community.  First a little bit of background.

I lived in New York City for most of my life, where winters can be brutally cold and dry (though mid-Westerners might scoff at what I consider “brutal”), while in buildings and on public transportation the heat is always turned up so they are intolerably hot and dry.  These extreme fluctuations in temperature plus the lack of moisture in the air caused my skin to become so dry that my hands and heels would crack and bleed, and my legs would itch unbearably and the skin would flake off in chunks. I tried everything I could find and while lotions and creams provided very temporary relief, nothing healed my skin.

One winter day in 2003 I was in my favorite natural pharmacy in Manhattan and I asked one of the staff what I could use for my extremely dry, winter skin. He suggested Porter’s Lotion and handed me the bottle.  Didn’t I see this stuff in a J. Peterman catalog in the 1980s?  I thought he was crazy; it was a liquid in a spray bottle.  How could a liquid provide any moisture or relief?  I thought only something heavy and greasy could help me.

He sprayed some in my hand and explained that the strong medicinal smell would quickly dissipate. Initially I smelled ammonia, and then a hint of rosemary. I’m something of a fan of medicinal smells, so I wasn’t bothered by it, in fact, I liked it. It wasn’t at all greasy and soaked right into my hands.  It stung slightly because my hands were badly cracked, but after that it felt nice. Really nice. I decided to buy it, as they never steered me wrong before and I’m so glad I did.

Within three days of using it my legs stopped itching and flaking. It took about a week for my hands to heal. Heal. Porter’s actually healed my skin.  Nothing -- no cream, no lotion -- ever healed my skin. Porter’s has been my constant companion since.  People have commented on how smooth and soft my hands are.  Even in the dead of winter.

I've recently relocated to the Bay Area, so I won't have to deal with brutal winters, but Porter's remains my go-to lotion.  I keep a bottle at the office, where handling paper all day robs my hands of what little natural oils they have - and because it’s not greasy, I can spray it on whenever I need to.  After each time I wash my hands, I spray on the Porter’s.  I keep a bottle in the car.  I have a travel size in my purse.  There’s a bottle in the kitchen and one in the bathroom.

This is the kind of product that even if Marta -- my skincare product guru -- gave a thumbs down to, I would be hard-pressed to give it up because it has helped me so much.

Porter’s Lotion Original Formula (8.45 fl. oz. - $12 at


Water, Witch Hazel Distilled, Glycerin, Alcohol (Denat.), Greensoap (U.S.P.), Ammonium Carbonate, Camphor, Rosemary Oil
  • November 5, 2012

    by Lauren Mercury

    Does this product work well on feet and elbows? I am a marathon runner and am looking for something special in the winter.

  • November 2, 2012

    by Michelle G

    I'm a great lover of Porter's too for super dry (cracked, bleeding, itchy) skin. Our entire family loves it in winter - smells a bit odd, but works to deliver relief very fast. It has also worked wonders on my son's eczema.

  • November 1, 2012

    by Julie Kay

    What I left out (above) is the remedies I use, many of them, I learned from my Grandmother (my dad's mom), or I learned from my Mother who would tell me how she learned from her Mother (this is a grandmother I never had the pleasure to know, my mom's mom). I cherish every tiny wee bit of knowledge I can pass to my family and hope they accept it as the gift it is... ~jk

  • November 1, 2012

    by Julie Kay

    Angela J! I dunno how I missed this commentary, but I'm happy to have found it now (thanks, Marta, for including Porter's in your Dry Skin Regimen 10-31-12). I agree w Junko and want to add my measure: I've come to believe there are many Auld World Remedies that are simply vanishing and not being handed down to younger generations now as was tradition in times past. I still use medicinal solutions for many things and look for holistic cures when I am desperate. Porter's is a good example of a simple old and basic recipe that works. Brilliant! ~jk

  • April 11, 2012

    by Ladybug

    I was clued into Porter's several years ago and have been extremely pleased with it ever since. I have never felt that creams or ointments did me any good whatsoever and I have never liked putting cream on my face because it always felt like I was putting on a mask. Porter's has been an answer to a prayer! It can be a trifle stingy if my face or hands are chapped but it soon feels fine. I love the scent, to me it is just a nice clean smell. I also like that it is made with simple ingredients. I would recommend it to anyone

  • September 16, 2011

    by Liz L

    The absolute best dry skin lotion ever. I discovered it many, many years ago in a Restoration Hardware store and fell in love. It takes a minute or two to get used to the liquid instead of cream formulation that most of us are so accustomed to using. It soaks in and dries quickly.

  • October 22, 2010

    by Angela J

    Jaysie, Welcome to the bandwagon! I'm so glad Porter's is working for you, too. It should work wonders on your feet as well.

    Let me know if you're ever in the Bay Area, and I'll take you up on your lunch offer!

  • October 22, 2010

    by Jaysie

    After using Porter's once a day for one week, I am impressed!! I have been putting this on my right hand and forearm and the snake-like, crepey skin has noticeably improved! This is a bandwagon I'm jumping on and will be using it all over. Anxious to try it on my feet. Anxious to see what longer-term use will do.

    The mentholated scent which I guess comes from the camphor is not unpleasant as it reminds me of strong peppermint. And it lasts for only a minute. To think such a simple, affordable lotion can make a difference where other pricier products failed is a big surprise to me. Thanks, again, Angela! I'd buy you lunch if I could!

  • October 4, 2010

    by Angela J

    Kari, I'm so glad you're beginning to see results already. I'm looking forward to your updates.

  • October 3, 2010

    by kari

    Have been using the Porter's for TWO days on my terribly dry heels and ALREADY they are softer and not dry feeling or flakey at all! Can't wait to see how this does over the winter and also just how "few" more days it takes to completely heal my cracked feet!

  • September 28, 2010

    by Kari

    I SOOOO need this! I have HORRID winter itch and scaling even though I live in SOUTH TEXAS! Doesn't matter if it's 50 or -10, winter and my skin just do NOT mesh. Thanks so much for the tip! I will be trying this out as well since it has JUST decided to "cold snap" down here two days ago and my legs have ALREADY started! ACK!

  • September 27, 2010

    by Angela J

    Jaysie, I hope it works as well for you as it does for me. I too look forward to reading about your results.

  • September 26, 2010

    by Junko

    I'm still intrigued Jaysie, so since you've ordered it and will be trying it, please, please, come back and post your results. Very interested in your second opinion!

  • September 25, 2010

    by Jaysie

    I will be ordering this for my dry hands which look like snakeskin. I'm encouraged by the witch hazel and the camphor, both of which my skin likes. Overall, it may seem an odd formula but it may be just the right combination to put the acid mantle of my skin back in balance. Thanks for the tip, Angela, because I've never heard of Porter's.

  • September 23, 2010

    by Angela

    I agree, it's fascinating how simple, somewhat-odd ingredients in the right combination work so well. It makes me want to take a leap into the world of crafting lotions and potions - add what I want and what I know works for me, while leaving out what doesn't.

  • September 22, 2010

    by Junko

    It amazes me when the simplest and or/oddest ingredients render such good results. I wasn't sure what Greensoap was, but it says on the web that generically it's pure vegetable oils and glycerine. The Ammonium Carbonate & Rosemary Oil seem odd to me, but apparently this odd mixture works!

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