Warming Creams and Lotions; A beginners guide by Ryan Tattle — Posted on 24 Nov 11:49 , 0 comments

It has happened to all of us,

You get dressed and leave your house knowing it is cold outside, only to think to yourself as you slam the door closed,

“I am definitely going to freeze.”

In that moment, you could go back inside and reanalyze your clothing strategy… maybe you could tell yourself to go for a more technical layering approach, or the — as many layers as possible until I can’t move approach.

But… Instead, you have now thought about it too much, you are in your car and already on the road. Too late. 

Before recent times, we as humans, have not really thought about or had any other viable option during our getting dressed for cold weather routine, and even if we did, we would probably be pretty skeptical about it anyway.

That was before a newer emerging winter skin care niche broke the technology grounds of creating easy to use, effective and most importantly, safe, warming creams.




The 3 different warming lotion categories you should know about

The products can go under quite similar names like the ones below, and while they are similar in some ways, there are some key differences that you need to be aware of that I will discuss here.

Names you may see:

  • Warming Cream
  • Warming Lotion
  • Therapeutic balms
  • Cold Weather protection Lotion
  • Embrocation cream
  • Self-heating or Self-Warming moisturizers

The 3 categories that the products fall into and their definitions are:

  • Pain Relief / Anti Inflammatory
  • Embrocation
  • Cold Weather Warmth and Protection

    Lets briefly talk about the pain relief one first

    The main differentiator here is that it has 1 or more active ingredients that work by first cooling and warming the skin, and then, using a light analgesic take away the pain.

    These types of products like Bengay, for instance, are commonly used to treat minor aches and pains of muscles and joints. Sometimes associated with arthritis. Any pharmacist will be able to tell you what is right for your symptoms.

    Next up is Embrocation Creams

    The most common use case is within the cycling community, where riders apply it to their legs to help with cold and wet conditions. 

    It is effectively a wax-like substance that you apply to the skin to create a thick barrier which can repel some of the mud and water that sprays up. They will also have a heating agent, normally capsaicin (from the chilli family) in them to give a warming sensation.

     Embrocation creams are known to be application specific, and if you are a cyclist and thinking about giving it a try, here is some more info including a few Do’s and Dont’s for getting the best experience from them.

    Finally, there are Cold Weather Protection Warming Creams or Lotions (same thing)

    These cover the majority of what is on the market at the moment and cater to pretty much anyone who is looking for extra warmth while they are on the mountains or even taking the dog for a walk.

    They are by far, the most user-friendly, and normally have a high moisturizing benefit at the same time to help protect against the drier air that colder temperatures bring. 

    The main differences between different products are whether they have a barrier function, a physical/sensory warming function, or both.

    The barrier only products such as Warm Skin do not provide any physical warmth but are able to be used in both summer and winter and serve as a barrier to prevent water loss.

    An alternative product such as UThermic’s Coldscreen is able to give physical warmth on the application that lasts up to 4 hours, and also has a barrier function that serves to help retain some of your body’s naturally generated heat that is normally lost when you stop doing physical activity.



    The benefits of using a warming cream and when you should use it

    For this part of the article, I will concentrate on the warming body lotion category as it is the most relevant coming into the winter season, and can benefit the most amount of people.

    If you decide to use a pain relief cream or an embrocation cream, please just make sure you do your research beforehand and start with the links above.

    The main benefits of using a warming cream are that:

    • They are specially formulated winter moisturizers that protect and repair dry skin
    • Provide quick, noticeable warmth that lasts for a prolonged time
    • They allow you to be prepared at any time by having a small bottle in your bag, jacket or car
    • Are cost effective compared to buying other heated apparel options that give a similar feeling
    • They give you the option to wear less bulky layers once you become comfortable with the product of your choice
    • You are able to have more focus on what your task or activity is, rather than being sidetracked by the feeling of cold.

    When and where should you use one and when should you not?

    Perfect use of warming creams:

    • Use on your hands, arms, feet, and legs which are furthermost from your core and are most susceptible to becoming cold.
    • When you are doing anything to do with outdoor winter sports or activities. It is best to apply just before going outside, EXCEPT if you have a long drive to the place you are going if this is the case then put it on there instead.
      • A good example here is sleeping in a cold tent up on a snowy mountain peak. You would want to apply it just before you got into your sleeping bag so it would be nice and toasty for you to fall asleep.
    • If you work in a cold environment — anything from a ski instructor to a police officer. (I think that they are pretty close to polar opposites)
    • Long commutes that involve walking, cycling or segway’ing. (I am not sure that people still do that or if that is the correct way of saying that but could be a use)
    • Any outdoor events ranging from weddings to football games

    When you should not use them:

    • On any highly sensitive bodily areas. Yes, this does mean both lady and gentlemen parts, but can sometimes mean the chest and belly areas as well depending on the product’s level of heat.
    • If you have a short commute that will leave you in a heated or warm building — any external heat can accentuate the feeling and become too much
      • This is also true for jumping into a hot outdoor (or indoor) hot tub. It will get uncomfortable, I promise.
    • If you have been drinking alcohol — by the nature of alcohol thinning your blood and making it move towards the outer layer of your skin, it means that the barrier function of the warming cream will trap that extra heat in and again accentuate the feeling.
    • Other than that, common sense is the real winner and after a few tries in different scenarios, you will know what works for you.

    Top 5 things to look for when buying a warming cream


    Best warming creams and lotions

    There are a few key things to look for when you have decided to give one a go. Here are the top five considerations you should look for:

    • Safe, natural ingredients -- anything over 95% is pretty good. There will always be a few percentage points that are needed as preservatives to keep the 'unsticky' nature of the naturals together for the duration of the shelf life.
    • That is has been tested -- at the minimum by a dermatologist, but ideally by stricter clinical trials.
    • That it is 100% cruelty-free -- you might have your own opinion on this one but for these types of products, it is not needed.
    • No hassle return guarantee -- Check the company who develops the product has one and is clear about it.
    • A good, detailed explanation of how the specific product works and its functions -- if the company doesn't know then that is usually a pretty big red flag!

    Warming lotions; Summed up in 80 words

    Overall, warming creams are a revolutionary introduction to the incredibly vast landscape of the skincare industry. We are in a world where experts operate in their specialist niches for a reason, and this is no different.

    The products perfectly complement any piece of clothing, and although they take a little bit of time to get into the habit of using, are a critical winter accessory for you, your family and your friends to have on you throughout the chilly winter season.

    Make sure you check the above links out to see for yourself and most importantly — for everything you could ever need to become an expert on personal warmth, subscribe to our blog to receive relevant, educational and inspiring stories about how to live your best life no matter the temperature.