Winter Skin Woes: 3 Tips for Healing Dry Skin
For many of us, the holiday season means gathering with family and friends, finding gifts for our loved ones… and battling dry skin. Winter temperatures leave many of us with dry, flaky, itchy, unhappy skin on our face, hands, arms and worse.
Dry skin occurs when skin doesn’t have enough moisture. When winter comes and the humidity level drops, your skin’s moisture level drops along with it, leaving you extra susceptible to dry, itchy patches and redness.
If you’re secretly dreading the holidays for the winter skin issues (and just in time for the annual family photo!), take a step back. You don’t have to wait until spring to get your skin looking and feeling healthy again.
Here are a few simple things you can do to protect your skin against the cold and heal those dry spots.
3 Ways to Fix Dry Skin
1. Change the Way You Bathe
Taking a bath or a shower when you have dry skin can be tough. Those dry, itchy patches can flake, crack, or even bleed if they’re run under water that’s too hot or rubbed too hard with a towel. Here’s what we recommend:
- Close the windows and the bathroom door. This helps keep the steam in the room. Your skin will absorb that extra humidity.
- Use warm rather than hot water. It’s tempting in the winter to crank up the heat, but hot water will only further dry out your skin. The lower temperature will allow your skin to retain more of its moisture as you go through the day.
- Wash with a gentle cleanser. The wrong products—the ones with fragrances and chemicals in them—will only make the problem worse. A simple, fragrance-free cleanser will give your skin the nutrients it needs to heal the dry spots and stay healthy.
- Dry gently. Use your towel to dab those dry spots rather than rub them. It’s less painful and gives the skin more time to heal.
Pro tip: Be sure to read the labels on your products closely! There’s a difference between “fragrance-free” and “unscented.” “Unscented” can mean the product contains chemicals that hide the smells of other ingredients. Too often, those chemicals can be harmful to skin that’s already feeling vulnerable from the cold. It might seem like a small difference, but “fragrance-free” is definitely the way to go.
This one probably feels obvious. Heck, it’s got “moisture” right in the name. But choosing the right product for your needs—and applying it immediately after you wash—can go a long way towards hydrating and healing dry skin. Even if you think you suffer from oily skin, moisturizer can help.
Cold temperatures zap the moisture right from your skin, and the proper creams and lotions help stop that moisture from escaping. The right moisturizer will do that by giving your skin an extra dose of the nutrients it needs to stay soft. Check the label for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and lanolin—all natural substances that bind to water and prevent that moisture from leaving your skin.
You’ll also want to apply moisturizer immediately after you’ve bathed and dried, when your skin is at its cleanest. The longer you wait, the more time you give dirt and germs a chance to latch onto your skin, and your moisturizer will trap those things to you, as well.
3. Be Proactive
It goes without saying that the best way to protect your skin in the winter is not to let it dry out in the first place with a great skincare routine.
Like we talked about earlier, cold temperatures and low humidity drain the moisture from your skin. That’s why many people experience dryness on their face and hands—areas that are most exposed to the cold. The more we protect those areas, the more likely they are to stay moist, soft, and healthy. Here are some ways we can do that:
- Take a daily supplement that includes skin-friendly probiotics, vitamins, and minerals
- Wear gloves, hats, and scarves when you go outdoors
- Avoid washing your hands too often, or if you must, use non-deodorant soaps
- Use hypoallergenic detergents on your clothes
- Wear a cotton layer under clothing made of wool, or other rough materials
- Drink plenty of water and don’t overdo it with dehydrating substances like caffeine and alcohol
Use these tips to hydrate your dry skin
Keeping your skin hydrated in winter is all about retaining moisture, protecting skin that’s at risk of drying out, and healing those spots that are already dry and flaky.
If your skin doesn’t start clearing up even after putting these tips into practice, it might be worth a trip to the dermatologist. Most seasonal dry skin is nothing to worry about, but a doctor can help you make that call. In the meantime, try these simple strategies to help keep your skin happy and healthy this holiday season.