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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