Stay Connected

Monday, January 25, 2021

What Crisco Has to Do with Cold & Dry Winter Air

This season of cold outdoor air and heated indoor air does a number on my skin and nails. When the cuticles on one of my fingers began to split and peel the other day, I was reminded of a very frugal and effective tip that came from my dermatologist many years ago. 

I was in the midst of my first winter in a cold and dry climate and my lips were cracked and the cuticles around my fingernails were splitting. My dermatologist shared what she'd been using on her hands since her internship. Even before COVID, medical personnel were known for frequent hand washing. My dermatologists hands were so dry and irritated from all of the washing that one of the nurses told her about "Cream C," other wise known as Crisco shortening, to use as a barrier cream on dry skin.

This is how much shortening I use for both hands,
front and back, around fingernails, and up past my wrists

To this day, I follow that frugal advice from my dermatologist. After I wash my hands, I pat them dry, but don't dry them completely. I then put a tiny dab of store-brand vegetable shortening (and I mean tiny) on one finger and rub it all over my hands, fingers and tips, around the nails, and up my sleeve a few inches. The key is to do this right after washing/patting dry (so that there's some moisture to lock in) and use so little that your palms don't feel greasy. (If I do put too much on and find my palms have the slightest feeling of shortening, I wipe my palms on a towel.)

I also use shortening as a lip balm before bed and on cracked heels (covered with socks) a couple of times per month. Shortening has got to be the cheapest beauty product that I use. 

The other aspect of using shortening that I appreciate is that it's food-grade and fragrance-free. When I'm working in the kitchen, the last thing I want to do is handle food after using a fragranced hand cream. That just sounds like ick to me.

So, that's my frugal beauty tip for this mid-winter day -- a little Cream C for dry hands, cracked heels, and dry lips.


  1. Now that's a good idea although, its hard to imagine that that little amount could cover all of those areas. I guess I'd have to try it to see. I don't like extra smells in the kitchen either including perfumed dish soap.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      You'd be surprised how far such a small amount of Crisco goes. When I put it on my lips at night, I have to be very careful to use an even teensier, tiny amount. It does go far.

  2. That's a wonderful idea and one I've never heard of before. I suffer with very dry skin in the winter including the cracked skin on fingers and heels. I will be trying this one for sure! Thank you for sharing.


    1. Hi Alice,
      It's worth trying, if you have some in the kitchen. As Kris said with putting mittens over petroleum jelly, you can put shortening on your hands and feet then cover with mittens and socks and have a "spa" evening for several hours while relaxing some evening. Anyway, it's worth a try.

  3. I've heard of this before and it's a great idea. My mom has used petroleum jelly on her face every night ever since I can remember (a thin layer) and even at 90, people regularly make comments on her beautiful complexion. She has become something of an urban legend in our extended family--I recently learned that a cousin has adopted her skin care regimen! One of the things she taught me was to use petroleum jelly at night with mittens if my hands were extra dry--it works! I'm sure Crisco would do the same thing.

    Alice, for whatever it's worth, I have problems with cracked heels as well. A dermatologist told me that creams with urea are the best for that area of the body. Flexitol is a brand that I use that has been helpful (available at Meijer) but there are other brands out there.

    1. Hi Kris,
      I'm going to remember your mom's trick with the petroleum jelly on her face as I get older. It seems with each new decade my face gets drier and drier. I once read that in the Mediterranean women use olive oil on their faces. I've seen cotton gloves sold just for using as a covering when putting oils and creams on them. I may have to give gloves a try over the shortening.

      I think urea is a mild chemical for exfoliating and that might be what it does for cracked heels. I used to use a pumice on my heels in summers, which would do the same thing, only manually. Thanks for the tip on Flexitol.

  4. I used shortning for many years.i used to put it in a noxema certainly works is good for face ,hands ,feket and wherever needed on dry skin.i am going to fill a jar up tonight and start using it again.i am seventy years old now,could use some cheap does help


Thank you for joining the discussion today. Here at creative savv, we strive to maintain a respectful community centered around frugal living. Creative savv would like to continue to be a welcoming and safe place for discussion, and as such reserves the right to remove comments that are inappropriate for the conversation.


Be a voice that helps someone else on their frugal living journey

Are you interested in writing for creative savv?
What's your frugal story?

Do you have a favorite frugal recipe, special insight, DIY project, or tips that could make frugal living more do-able for someone else?

Creative savv is seeking new voices.


share this post