1.) The only way to survive winter in the Midwest is to apply as much skin-penetrating oil as possible, as often as possible, to all parts of your body. I mean lip balm like you wouldn't believe (and I already have three splits in my lower lip), I mean sugar scrub everyday, I mean those tiny little cuts you get on your knuckles when the skin cracks open.
The best things I have found to combat this issue of winter:
-- Kiehl's lip balm. In terms of healing, it's better than Burt's. And it magically works on cold sores. I have no clue how.
-- sugar scrub. 1/2 c. oil (olive, vitamin E, sweet almond, whatever), 1 c. sugar, 5 drops essential oil if you want it. Use on damp skin, rinse lightly, blot dry. Be careful not to fall in the shower.
-- baths and showers that aren't too hot. This is hard for me: I am chronically cold, and hot water immersion is when I get warm. But too hot = dry skin forever. So I turn up the heat in my house, have a robe ready, so on.
-- Neutrogena's Norweigan Hand Cream. It is nearly straight petrolatum, yes, but dude, it goes on your hands and doesn't come off when you wash them, or work in a kitchen, or throw pots all winter because you thought having your hands immersed in watery clay would be a great thing to do -- in WINTER, when it is cold already.
I'm liking this Bath and Body Works anti-bacterial lotion. It's okay so far. Hasn't cured my sinusitis.
2.) Cold begets cold. This has many meanings.
-- If you get a cold, you will get another, sooner than you'd like.
-- If you ARE cold, you will not get warm quickly. Go into overdrive: think hats, blankets, down booties, fingerless mitts, scarves -- all on top of your sweater, underlayer, thick pants, legwarmers, and wool socks -- and all when you're inside. If all else fails, either get into a not too hot bath or into a down sleeping bag. I spent a winter in Iowa in my down sleeping bag. A whole winter. I mean until April.
3.) Humidifiers are not an option. They are a necessity. I think I'm getting a new one for the first time in my life soon. The old one is so covered in scale that I'm not sure it puts out steam, but more like calcified chlorine in a gas state. If that's possible.
4.) Notice IT'S NOT WINTER YET. You live in the Midwest. Winter starts by Halloween and can go until after Easter. Make a note to yourself not to move any farther north than you are already.
5.) Good boots. Not dress boots. Good hiking boots with tread and steel toes and ankle support.
6.) Some places in the Midwest don't use ice melting salt. Like Iowa. They only use sand. I thought my ruin was certain when I moved there and saw no salt, just sand. I thought, what good can this do? Then I saw six months of snow and ice melting a little, then refreezing at night, over and over, and understood -- traction is the goal; this ice will never melt.
7.) Cold is exhilarating? Your breath looks cool? It humbles us? I don't believe these things. I'm too busy conserving heat.