Best Friend Handbook: Protect Your Skin Barrier; Boost Your Immune System

Best Friend Handbook: Protect Your Skin Barrier; Boost Your Immune System

My friend Katherine Stuart writes a wonderful blog,”Best Friend Handbook,” everything from fashion and beauty tips to nutrition and recipes – including recipes for success in life – which she feels are ramped up by practicing gratitude every single day.

This week, Katherine offers helpful hints (with sources) for staying healthy and safe.

It’s really easy to go down the rabbit hole of COVID-19 darkness, and feel like that invisible enemy is everywhere. For me, regaining a sense of control over my health calms me the f**k down. It really boils  down to two things: washing my hands and eating right. The former is easy, but trashes your skin so I’ve included a post on ways to protect your skin barrier. And for the latter, I’ve come up with a quick, vegetable ragout that’ll help boost your immune system into the stratosphere.


Almost overnight, we’ve turned into a society of crazy hand washers. While it’s definitely one of the best things that you can do to prevent COVID-19 (and one of the few that you can actually control), it also takes its toll on the health of your skin. This is especially true for those of us in our 40’s, 50’s and beyond as a decrease in estrogen means that the skin on our hands is already thinner and dryer. In fact, many of you may already be noticing patches of red, dry, flaky skin, and a higher propensity for hangnails, cuts and scrapes that seem to take forever to heal. Yes, these breaks in the skin barrier are unsightly, but more importantly, they’re dangerous.

Eczema or contact dermatitis, the official name for those red, flaky patches, is what happens when excessive hand washing and/or over-exposure to alcohol based hand sanitizers breaks down the outer layer of your skin. This protective barrier is what keeps moisture in and germs out. The more damaged your skin barrier, the more likely it is for germs (and viruses) to enter your body resulting in:

dry skin
cracked skin
hang nails
scaly skin

One of the simplest ways to keep your skin barrier doing its job is to wash your hands in lukewarm, not hot, water, and moisturize them every time that you wash them. I know it sounds like a pain, but it really does make a difference. Here are a few of my favorite clean hand creams for keeping your skin barrier safe.

Protect Your Skin Barrier with Ten over Ten Hand Cream & Serum

As one of the first companies to make beautiful, high functioning, yet clean nail polishes, Ten over Ten now has an entire line of fantastic products for your hands and nails. I’ve been using their Celery Oil on my cuticles for about 6 months with borderline miraculous results. But their new Hand Restorative Cream and Hand Repair Serum are true game changers. Not only do they feel amazing, but the moisturizing effects continue to protect your skin barrier through multiple hand washing sessions.

I typically use the serum once in the morning and once at night, but I apply the hand cream throughout the day. Well, that is when I’m not using one of my other go-to hand creams.

Sóley Organics Hand Cream & Healing Cream

If anyone knows a thing or two about subjecting their hands to harsh conditions, it’s someone who lives in Iceland. Made with Icelandic water and healing herbs, Sóley Organics Hand Cream…

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One of the hardest things for me about the COVID-19 outbreak is that someone else’s actions or inactions could possibly harm my health. It’s incredibly annoying. We can really only control two things: washing our hands like Lady Macbeth (read more here on how to protect your skin barrier), and eating foods that boost our immune system.

This is why I’m excited to share my current go-to favorite recipe for Immune Boosting Vegetable Ragout. Chock full of easy to find vegetables such as:

white mushrooms
shitake mushrooms
oyster mushrooms
swiss chard

These veggies have been scientifically proven to have any number of health benefits, but the most important one for now is that they all pump up your body’s immune system.

Immune Boosting Vegetable Ragout is Versatile

Delicious tasting, this Immune Boosting Vegetable Ragout is also versatile. Naturally vegan, I’ve kept this recipe on the bland side so that you can spruce it up by adding some:

sautéd pancetta
chicken or turkey sausage
ground chicken, turkey or beef
For a healthier bolognese or, if you like things spicier, throw in 1/4 t red pepper flakes or 1 t of chili oil. Fresh herbs such as Italian parsley, basil or oregano can deepen the flavor, and always finish with a healthy dose of grated parmesan and/or pecorino (I prefer a combo of the two).

Fresh or Frozen Vegetables
Though I prefer the taste of this Immune Boosting Vegetable Ragout with mostly fresh vegetables, I just made it the other night with a bag of frozen organic kale from Whole Foods, and it came out fine…

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